Warning: This article contains spoilers.
Honestly, “The Marvels” seemed doomed to fail from the get-go. The unfortunate timing of the Hollywood strikes meant there was no real media promotion, and it’s yet another Marvel movie — which, lately, people see as a negative.
The idea of another Marvel movie that tries to pull in different characters from their own stories or movies into the same film has not sat well with viewers for some time now. Everyone goes into these movies with the expectation that it’s just another setup for a grander event film down the line where all these storylines converge.
To the surprise of many, “The Marvels” was decent. Now, is it an amazing piece of cinema? Is it the best Marvel movie to date? No, not by a long shot. But amidst the more serious themes and plots that seem to be the standard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), “The Marvels” was fun. Through a super critical lens, I’d say most of the MCU falls short, and this movie would be no different. But the more fun and exciting side of things that seems to be missing in a lot of the MCU as of late absolutely shines in “The Marvels.”
The biggest negative is the villain. Dar-Ben (Zawe Ashton) is a generic Marvel antagonist, whose motivation seems lost behind everything else happening in the film. Her vengeful feelings towards Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), only really come through when they are on screen together and actively discussing them.
This was another big issue I had with the movie: it felt like there was a movie we missed. We’re given jumpy, vague flashbacks with no explanation of something Captain Marvel did in the past, but these moments are so integral to the plot it felt like we were expected to already know what happened. These events took place sometime in between “Captain Marvel” and this film, but as far as I’m aware, they were never covered anywhere in previous MCU entries.
And then there’s Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Marvel has been dropping the ball when it comes to Nick Fury for some time now. With the critical failure of “Secret Invasion,” it seems that the understanding of this character is being put on the backburner in favor of a recognizable face to spout comedic one-liners here and there.
The plot also falls a little flat overall since it’s rooted in the conflict between Dar-Ben and Captain Marvel. The concept of the three Marvels having their powers intertwined felt more like a gimmick to pull the three characters together, rather than a well-thought-out and explained plot point. However, at the end of it all, all of this was overshadowed by the good.
There is a semblance of a good story littered throughout. This is Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau’s (Teyonah Parris) first meeting since the end of “Captain Marvel.” This distance has grown a rift between the two, and their struggle to connect and reconcile these issues does provide a bit of heartwarming storytelling. All the while, this team is being supported by Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani).
Kamala is the strongest character in this movie. As seen in her titular show, “Ms Marvel,” Vellani has a grasp on the character. She is known to be an avid lover of Marvel and it shows in her portrayal in “The Marvels,” as well. Kamala, at times, feels like the joke of the group, but her presence is essential to the cooperation of the trio — both in helping on their mission and with their personal issues. There’s also her family in the mix lending their support for Kamala, which was a highlight of the “Ms. Marvel” series.
The movie hops to many locales, i.e. different planets, which is one of the silver linings of the plot. One location returns us to the familiar faces of the Skrull and a quick appearance by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson). I feel these scenes are the right way to tie into other MCU entries. They fit with the plot of this movie, as opposed to being there for the sake of synergy.
One other planet, Aladna, seems to be polarizing. Many have criticized how ridiculous it is and I think, at face value, that makes sense. However, I thought it fit well. This planet, inhabited by a people whose language is music, wouldn’t fit anywhere outside its own musical production, but that moment felt like an appropriately fun and comedic way to break up the beats of the movie. It even provided a light bit of backstory to Captain Marvel that fit the character we’ve seen only in passing since her title film.
Quite possibly the best detail of the film was its fight choreography. The weakest fight is probably the most grand one. This could be due to the overuse of CGI, or the more fantastical nature of Captain Marvel and Monica flying around, but even then it was interesting.
The real gems were the more close-quarters fights. They were not only choreographed well and exciting to watch, but they offered the complication of having three characters constantly switching places the entire fight. It was genuinely riveting to watch the characters and their actors/stunt actors dance all over the scenes in, honestly, one of the best fight sequences in the entire MCU.
The fighting even lends itself to the plot, as one of the obstacles the trio needs to overcome is their uncontrollable switching, leading to a light-hearted training montage that bonds these characters together.
This movie was fun. If you go in expecting a cinematic masterpiece, you’re going to be disappointed. The movie isn’t particularly thought-provoking or any other attempt at grandeur. It is just a good movie that was enjoyable to experience.
I mean, what’s not to enjoy when the movie boasts one of the most iconic scenes in MCU history: Barbara Streisand’s rendition of “Memory” from “Cats” plays while the entire crew of a space station is consumed by tentacles pulling them into the pocket dimension inside the overwhelming number of “kittens” recently born on the station.
I give this movie 8 terrified screams while being consumed by adorable Flerkens out of 10.
“The Marvels” is rated PG-13. Watch the final trailer below:
At the parks, you can currently encounter all three of “The Marvels” in Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure. You can check out our report here.
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