There are so many things to address before getting down to a review of this movie - and why I liked it so much - but I’ve managed to whittle it down to a couple of topics. First, does it pay tribute to the late Stan Lee? You bet! The Marvel Studios logo has been redesigned to be a visual celebration of Lee. Also, Lee’s penultimate cameo - there’s reportedly one more in “Avengers: Endgame” - happens about 30 minutes in. He’s reading a magazine in a subway car. Second, this film is not, as many uninformed moviegoers have thought, an example of a male character being turned into a female character. No male actor has been replaced by a female actor to placate any socio-political movement. Let the record show that Captain Marvel always was a female character, and that, in the world portrayed here, men and women are equals, in every way. End of conversation.

Now, let the review begin!

Three worlds, three planets, are visited in “Captain Marvel.” Hala is the home of the valiant Kree civilization, who are in the midst of a war with the malevolent Skrull civilization, who are capable of shapeshifting and will stop at nothing to take over the universe. Then there’s Torfa, where members of the elite Kree Starforce, under the command of Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) head to rescue one of their own. Torfa is also where one of Starforce’s “noble warrior heroes,” Vers (Brie Larson), puts up a great fight, but suddenly vanishes, and finds herself transported to the relatively backward planet C-53.

It’s a place that the Kree like to call a sh**hole (yes, the scriptwriters managed to get in a President Donald Trump reference), maybe because of the way people there behave or where they shop. Look! There’s a Blockbuster Video! There’s a Radio Shack! Oh, right. The Kree put letters and numbers on distant planets. This is Earth, and the year is 1995.

Vers may be a fish out of water here, especially because of her futuristic wardrobe, but there’s also a familiarity about the place to her. Has she been here before? That’s hard to tell because she’s been having difficulty remembering her past, including where she’s from, how she got to Hala and, most important, how she ended up with a couple of photon blasters for hands.

Then she starts meeting people, and I think it’s both safe and a good idea to reveal that “Captain Marvel” is a prequel to all of the previous Avengers movies. That should make it easier for viewers to understand what’s going on with her first encounters, with a much younger Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who still has two good eyes, and maintains a desk job at Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division AKA S.H.I.E.L.D., and with Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), the “new guy” at S.H.I.E.L.D.

As with pretty much every other superhero movie, whether it’s from the Marvel universe or the DC universe, there’s a whole lot of storytelling going on, with plenty of characters, to boot. Most of the events here take place on C-53 ... sorry, on Earth. But they eventually involve Vers’ search for her past, her relationship with her Kree-based Supreme Intelligence figure (Annette Bening), realizing that the name she goes by is actually part of her real name: Carol Danvers, and how she got her astounding powers, which go up a notch in intensity when she starts glowing.

Amid the excellent visual effects, there’s also some enjoyable screen chemistry between Larson and Jackson, a terrific and wryly comic performance from Ben Mendelsohn as the Skrull leader Talos, and some purrfect acting by a cat named Goose (sorry, bad pun).

The film carries a big-time anti-war sentiment and a strong message about how different beings - whether they’re Kree or Skrull or human - should treat each other. And it has a couple of appearances by the legendary Infinity Stone known as the Tesseract. It features a good ending that screams out for a sequel, and a nicely tied-in second ending in the middle of the credits, followed by the best of the three endings after the credits go to black.

Ed Symkus writes about movies for More Content Now. He can be reached at esymkus@rcn.com

“Captain Marvel”
Written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
With Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Jude Law, Annette Bening
Rated PG-13