MARVEL finally puts a female superhero front and centre in its first blockbuster to be co-directed by a woman.

While Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch have sometimes felt sidelined by the comic book giant in the decade since the success of Iron Man changed the landscape of modern cinema, Captain Marvel is finally given a chance to shine.

And the wait was worth it. Brie Larson, who won an Oscar for 2015’s Room, takes on the titular role of Captain Marvel, an origin story directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.

Set in 1995, with a toe-tapping soundtrack to match, the film follows US Air Force pilot Carol Danvers on her journey to become one of the most powerful heroes in the history of the Marvel comics.

It pre-dates any of the films about the Avengers and unites her with a younger Nick Fury (a de-aged Samuel L Jackson), when he still has both eyes and is pushing paper as a low-ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D, and a truly scene-stealing cat.

When we meet her, Larson’s character is far from earth and a member of Kree’s Starforce, on the side of Yon Rogg (Jude Law), Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) and the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening) as the Krees wage war on the Skrulls, including Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). If you’re a fan of the comics you will know this war is a legendary part of Marvel folklore but don’t worry if you’re coming in blind.

The film’s deft script, penned by Boden, Fleck and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, rattles along at a crackling pace and carries you along with it with enough references for the die-hard fans and pleasing gags for the newly initiated.

It also takes seriously the fact this is Marvel’s first film about a woman and does not shy away from addressing the misogyny Danvers faces (a male pilot tells her there is a reason it’s called a ‘cockpit’), regardless of which planet she is on.

But it is also a celebration of friendship and endurance. The relationship between her and Air Force pal Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) is touching and there is a montage about perseverance that has reduced grown women to tears.

While the film sets up the events that will unfold in Avengers: Endgame (due out in April), it is Captain Marvel who is pitched to be the future of the film series, and she is the hero we need right now.

RATING: 8/10