“Captain Marvel,” the first Marvel film featuring a female lead, was released in theaters on March 8.

The latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) premiered on Friday, March 8, with “Captain Marvel,” the first female superhero lead in a Marvel film. The film first received backlash before its release as internet ‘trolls’ gave it bad reviews without seeing it in an effort to undermine the female lead in a Marvel movie, but the movie itself was a powerful tale of self-discovery and female empowerment.

Set in the 1990s, before Nick Fury had an eye patch and the Avengers Initiative was even a concept, a being known as Vers, played by Brie Larson, from the planet Kree landed on planet Earth after a failed battle against a species known as Skrulls. The film gave viewers insight on what the world was like after the “death” of Captain America during World War II and before the creation of Tony Stark’s first Iron Man suit. There’s also a taste of nostalgia for ’90s kids who miss grunge fashion and the musical stylings of Nirvana and No Doubt. We see how S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, and Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, interacted with the first aliens to have ever visited Earth and how these interactions shaped their actions in movies that take place in the future.

Vers, also known as Carol Danvers and, later on, Captain Marvel, goes through the biggest change in character as she questions her past memories and current allegiances while on Earth. While these challenges and plotline fall under a similar pattern of other MCU films, the fact that they were happening to a female lead adds to the struggle, especially as Danvers remembers how sexism affected her life and was being used against her throughout the film.

Larson gives a stellar performance as the title role, especially given the backlash she received before the film was released. In February, a month before the film’s release, users on review-aggregation sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango started posting bad reviews on the film’s plot and Larson’s performance, claiming she wasn’t strong enough to play a lead in the MCU, that her character was being sexist toward men and even making remarks about how she didn’t smile enough in the trailer. The criticism led to Rotten Tomatoes announcing in late February that it would change its user review feature in order to stop letting users post audience reviews prior to a movie’s release. Hours before the film’s release, however, Rotten Tomatoes also removed over 5,000 negative ratings for the movie, claiming it happened due to a “bug” in its system. In the end, Larson’s performance was far from what any of these negative reviews claimed. She gave her character all the strength she needed.

“Captain Marvel” has a little something for everyone, from lovers of comedy to lovers of action to lovers of cats (yes, a cat plays a major role in the film). Larson explored the depths of Captain Marvel’s character while Jackson’s play on Nick Fury provided unexpected comic relief at times. Watching this movie in a packed movie theater will provide the best sense of community as everyone laughs and gasps together, so try to check it out while it’s in theaters. Also — this is a given fact for any MCU movie — make sure you stay in your seats for the post-credit scene.

Rating: 4/5 stars