In Marvel Studios’ The Marvels, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity. Carol has taken it back from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as The Marvels.
Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani displayed excellent on-screen chemistry. You really get to see it on display when they have to deal with their entanglement challenges and when they each have to deal with more personal issues. Iman easily stole the show with her charm and infectious personality as Kamala. She had some of the best jokes and commentary that made her character feel more connected to audiences. Teyonah Parris gave a solid performance. It was nice to see her character grow more in special ways. (Comic fans should be happy).
As for the director, Nia DaCosta handled a number of things rather well. I loved how she included Kamala’s daydream art. It was a great way to maintain the vibe of Kamala that was set in the Ms. Marvel Disney+ series. DaCosta also made a prudent decision to include some of the much-needed flashbacks for viewers who haven’t seen the Disney+ Marvel shows. This really came in handy regarding the rift between Carol and Monica. With the additional context, the drama felt at least a bit more authentic. Besides that, DaCosta did a wonderful job with the power entanglements. I enjoyed the action scenes for what they were and the VFX looked crisp for the most part.
There were a few plot points that worked really well for The Marvels. One of them was actually finding a way to make Captain Marvel vulnerable. In past movies, the character had the “Superman Problem”. Meaning, she was so powerful that nothing was much of an actual challenge for her. (Outside of personal and internal issues) However, The Marvels found an interesting way to balance out Captain Marvel still being powerful while also giving her certain challenges to overcome. In addition to physical challenges, it also added a bit more depth to Captain Marvel’s character with additional backstory. It’s a shame that audiences didn’t get more of this before or during the movie but either way, it did give the character more depth.
The biggest issue with the Marvels was the editing. It made the storytelling overall seem odd. At times it was helpful to see certain flashbacks or different scenes to gain context. However, there seemed to be other aspects of the characters and/or their backstories that could’ve used a bit more time to flesh out. One case to look at would be with Captain Marvel. There are certain actions that she emotionally deals with, but as a viewer it was hard for me to connect with her because of how the story seemed force feed the background information. Even as someone who’s watched every piece of MCU content (including the streaming shows) the storytelling and emotional connections I was supposed to feel for Captain Marvel felt hollow.
Another victim of the poor editing was the villain Dar-Benn played by Zawe Ashton. Zawe did a good performance as her character but her character feels forgettable. The character’s motivations were clear, but she barely seemed like a viable threat to the heroes. Plus, the choppy edit really hurt her character’s backstory. The film wanted us to draw some level of empathy or understanding for the villain, but because of the disjointed overarching storytelling in the MCU that was a lost effort. At no point in the MCU journey could I care about the plight of the Kree.
Lastly, I was not a fan of the overt silliness of the movie. That does not mean that The Marvels had to adopt a polar opposite, super serious tone. Adding levity and humor to the film is fine. I thought it worked best with Kamala Khan’s scenes. The problem in The Marvels is that the movie seemed to go out of its way to be silly. This was a similar issue with Thor Love and Thunder or Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania. Speaking of which, the same way the screaming goats were a miss in Thor 4, so were the cats in this movie.
I was also completely turned off when the characters visited the world of Aladana (the water planet) because at that moment The Marvels felt like it morphed into a Disney movie. Furthermore, the wacky tone made the characters feel out of character. Nick Fury, for instance, seemed like a completely different person. Many of the characters’ lines felt like bloopers that were left in the film for fun. Never mind the PTSD trauma and serious events of Secret Invasion, or just his overall no-nonsense demeanor since Iron Man (2008). We traded screaming goats for cats.
The Marvels offers a mix of cosmic events and superficial fun but falls short due to editing issues. The editing issues prevented what could have been a more impactful story and it created a weird feeling that audiences missed crucial elements to other stories. Thankfully, the movie’s ending does help by adding some connective tissue to a larger issue in the MCU continuity. At the very least, The Marvels does build on the characters, but it doesn’t make the strongest case to see more sequels for them either.
The film targets a younger, female audience, and while it may not appeal to everyone, it’s an improvement over Captain Marvel (2019). (Low bar, I know.) Sadly, this movie seems to be a by-product of the decision-making that was made during the pandemic. This was a time when Marvel had not realized that silly and wacky simply do not work to make a long-lasting MCU film. The moment musicals and silly animals were included, this film immediately started to feel more like a Disney movie rather than a Marvel movie.
The mid-credit scene is probably going to get the most buzz given its implications for the future of the MCU. There is one more thing that happens at the very end of the credits, but it is not worth staying to see. Outside of the cool mid-credit scene, The Marvels doesn’t feel like a must-watch event. The best approach would probably be not to expect a serious movie by any measure. You can either wait to see it on streaming or check it out at your local theaters.
Director: Nia DaCosta
Writer(s): Nia DaCosta and Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik
Stars: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Seo-Jun Park, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, and Samuel L. Jackson
The Marvels comes to theaters November 10, 2023. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 7/107/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 6/106/10
- Setting/Theme - 7/107/10
- Watchability - 6/106/10
- Rewatchability - 6/106/10