At some point, everyone began to take Marvel films way too seriously and lost sight of the most important thing – fun. Too many fans spend too much time overanalyzing the health of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and picking apart every detail. And while fan passion is what makes franchises like Marvel great, they can also distract from actual enjoyment of the films and shows.
The Marvels comes at a time when there is more criticism of the the MCU than ever before, and much discussion as to whether Marvel’s time as the dominant box office force has passed. Every new Marvel project carries with it the weight of either proving critics right, or staving off rumors of its demise. Thankfully, director Nia DaCosta and stars, Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani, seem far less interested in saving Marvel, and instead, are focused on telling a delightful adventure with great characters. The result is a crowd pleasing intergalactic romp for all to enjoy.
The Marvels premieres November 10th in theaters and tickets are on sale now.
In Marvel Studios’ “The Marvels,” Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity 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.”
The film stars Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Seo-Jun Park, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, and Samuel L. Jackson. Nia DaCosta directs, and Kevin Feige is the producer. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Mary Livanos and Matthew Jenkins serve as executive producers. The screenplay is by Nia DaCosta and Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik.
Marvel Studios’ “The Marvels” hits U.S. theaters on November 10
The strength of The Marvels lies in its focus on developing the three main characters, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), individually and together as a team. The character journey that the heroes go through also happens to be full of hilarious and delightful moments that set the tone of the film early on.
Director Nia DaCosta deftly juggles each of the three characters, their personalities, powers and dynamics, to tell the kind of team-up story that many fans have been clamoring for with Phases Four and Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The action sequences are dynamic and fast-paced, and reflect the way the trio grow together as a team throughout the story. Unlike many films, where team fights look more like tag-team matches where each character fights one at a time, The Marvels shows the heroes making full of use each other and their powers, reminiscent of comic book action scenes.
The Marvels reminds audiences that superhero films are supposed to be fun, with a variety of amusing and uplifting character moments between the three leads, and also including Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Kamala Khan’s family. The humor in The Marvels is a core element throughout the story, and the viewer’s experience with this film will hinge on whether the comedy resonates with them.
While all three heroes have their moments, and the film really is focused on the trio as a team, Vellani’s Kamala Khan is not only particularly enjoyable, but she might just be the single most important character in the MCU going forward. In comics, Ms. Marvel touches so many vital elements of the Marvel universe as an Inhuman, a mutant, a former member of the Avengers and the Champions, and a current member of the X-Men. After this film, it’s easy to see Kamala playing a similarly vital and interconnecting role in the MCU.
Comedy is a fine line, and often, a joke or a gag that makes one group laugh uproariously can make another group roll their eyes. The line is difficult to toe for any film, and at times, The Marvels certainly trips over to the cringeworthy side. As endearing as Vellani’s Kamala is in her effusive love for Captain Marvel and the Avengers, there are a few too many fangirl squealing scenes that eventually become distracting.
Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau, as the adults on the team, don’t have as many of those comedic moments, but they are charged with carrying the emotional load. There’s a history between the two that goes back to the first film, and the two coming together calls for an emotional resolution that unfortunately lacks weight. While Carol, Monica and Kamala have delightful chemistry as a trio, there’s a surprising absence of spark when the scenes focus on just Carol and Monica, and considering their reconciliation should have formed the emotional backbone of the story, the lack of emotional impact is one of the film’s biggest weaknesses. The best stories can make you laugh and cry, but this one only succeeded in half of the assignment.
The Marvels has massive implications for the future of the MCU, and will likely be referenced heavily in future films. However, the specific plot of the film is largely unimportant, with yet another villain who will soon be forgotten. Marvel’s villain problem rears its head once again, as Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) is another one-note antagonist who exists only to allow the heroes to show off their powers and abilities. Dar-Benn’s motivations are clear, but her overall story is uninteresting and underdeveloped. Even worse, I don’t care to learn more.
While the character development in The Marvels is critical, if there is a MCU film that feels like it exists to set-up future films, it’s this one.
The Marvels is an exciting step forward in terms of diversity in cinema. It is the first Marvel Studios film written and directed by a Black woman in Nia DaCosta, and it’s the first MCU film starring three women superheroes; including a Black hero and an Asian hero. Considering the MCU started with a cadre of white male heroes named Chris, The Marvels is an impressive step forward. Even the film’s supporting characters, Nicky Fury and Kamala’s family, are diverse characters. Also noticeable is that throughout the intergalactic journey of the film, which sees the heroes visiting multiple different planets, each scene is packed full of countless diverse background characters. It’s truly a beautifully diverse film that should set the standard for every blockbuster going forward.
THE RATING – 3.5/5 Pocky
Ron is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of POC Culture. He is a big believer in the power and impact of pop culture and the importance of representation in media.