Women are at the heart of The Marvels, and it’s a great sequel as a result.
It takes a lot to be a Marvel fan nowadays. Some people critique that to watch a Marvel film, you have to basically do ‘homework’ of watching all the previous movies and the television series. But really: is it any different than getting into the comics without having come in from the beginning?
The Marvels relies heavily on the fact that you’ve seen not only Captain Marvel, but Ms. Marvel and at least some of WandaVision. While it does an okay job of summarizing them for those who may be coming in blind, it’s also treated very quickly. While it’s technically a sequel to all three, it really is primarily a sequel to Captain Marvel, with most of the focus on her and her character.
The Marvels stars Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Kahn, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. After an incident with a jump portal, the three are able to swap places any time they use their powers at the same time. The jump portal is due to Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), a Kree who is busy trying to save Hela by stealing elements from other worlds. They are helped along by Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury.
Director Nia DaCosta does a great job of balancing out the story with the beats we all know that a Marvel movie has. The fight sequences are amazing, and the ones after the three learn to work with the power swapping are lit. The jokes are great (best use of “Memory” in a movie ever), but it also has its serious moments. (Spoilers!)
The three have some great chemistry, although Vellani steals every scene she’s in as Ms. Marvel (and now that it’s canon she writes fanfic, can we get her AO3 username, please?).
It’s lightly comedic (it even has a song and dance number), but really – I’m ready for a change from the grimdark seriousness of the MCU, and it felt good to take a break from it. DaCosta does a great job making it a female-centric movie while not making it overly ‘hey, look – we’ve got a movie that is about women!’ that that one sequence in Endgame felt like.
It has its issues, but what Marvel movie doesn’t? The biggest problem is that it seems to focus on the big issue of saving the world (can we maybe have it to where the stakes are just a neighborhood for a change?) and as such, character development lacks for all three. There are some nods to Kamala putting Carol on a pedestal, and to the fact that Carol and Monica haven’t seen each other since the end of Captain Marvel, which – reminder – took place in the 1990s. But it’s smoothed over VERY quickly, and barely dealt with. The 105-minute runtime is shorter than your average Marvel movie, and for a change I think the movie could’ve been longer with more focus on giving the characters some growth. (But then again, character growth isn’t exactly a Marvel strong suit.)
The balance between being a superhero and being a regular person with a family is seen throughout the movie. As a result, family is a big theme, but it’s disjointedly used as a filler for plot holes. With that in mind, it would have been nice to have the story focus on stakes that are technically small but big for our characters, like a family situation.
Note: there’s only one tag scene, and it further hints at similar things that Multiverse of Madness had teased about the expanding universes. Also, if you show up expecting a bunch of cameos from previous Marvel stars, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m also still a little stumped at this point as to where Phase Five of the MCU is going, but I have to assume at this point it’s intentional.
In the end, I highly enjoyed the movie. It has a similar energy to the first Avengers film, getting multiple superheroes to work together with wit and not without its clashes. It’s easily one of the better Marvel sequels out there, filled with a joy of having these three work together. If you enjoyed Captain Marvel and/or Ms. Marvel, you’ll most likely enjoy The Marvels as well.
The Marvels opened November 10, 2023, and is playing at a screen near you.
Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton
Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.
She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.
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