The Marvels | Review by: Tristan French
Ever since Avengers: Endgame tied up loose ends and provided a satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga, the MCU has been struggling to regain its footing. Marvel’s attempt to make the TV series mandatory viewing to understand the films and incorporate multiple timelines into the MCU, has turned the once beloved franchise into a convoluted mess. Almost every entry in phase four thus far has been a mere stepping stone to set up a future instalments, rather than a satisfying film on its own merits. There has been a significant decline in interest surrounding the MCU and superhero films in general. That is certainly reflected in the projected box office numbers for The Marvels, which is widely predicted to be the MCU’s first genuine financial flop.
However, I don’t believe this is necessarily fair. Despite its tumultuous production and having many of the glaring flaws that have been persistent within phase 4, The Marvels is the most fun and irreverent the franchise has been in quite some time. Boasting colourful imagery, a strong female cast of characters, and unexpectedly quirky humour, The Marvels is a moderate success for Marvel that does make me curious about the future of the franchise.
The Marvels reunites audiences with Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, who is stationed in space, investigating the movements of the Kree, who threaten to be a destructive force. When she discovers an ominous wormhole linked to the leader of the Kree, her powers get entangled with Jersey City’s Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel, and her estranged niece, Monica Rambeau. This makes them switch places whenever one of them uses their light based abilities. Despite the strange and inconvenient circumstances, the trio must learn to coordinate their powers and work as a team to save the universe.
While many have been mixed on the character of Captain Marvel and Brie Larson’s interpretation, The Marvels gives Larson room to explore a lighter and more comedic side of the character, which may win over some skeptics. This can be seen primarily through her interactions with Kamala Kahn, who is the standout of the film. Despite receiving lower viewership, many fans enjoyed the Ms. Marvel series and particularly Iman Vellani’s portrayal of the titular character. She brings that same energy and presence to the big screen, having great chemistry with both Larson and Teyonah Paris. While I don’t believe Monica’s role in the MCU was developed nearly enough to this point to be given this large of a time, Paris does her best with the material she was given, and provides the emotional undercurrent that the film desperately needed.
The Marvels is at its best when it’s leaning into comedic territory and when the three lead actresses are sharing the screen together. Unfortunately, like many MCU films as of recent, it suffers from an extremely convoluted story and a weak villain. The central conflict of the film can be solved very easily, but it is dragged out significantly in order to set up future storylines that will affect the trajectory of the MCU. However, director Nia DaCosta inserts enough style and visual flair to enhance the film, despite an extremely weak story.
Overall, The Marvels isn’t without its flaws. It’s a messy film that won’t win over those who have completely written off the MCU. However, fans who are still on board will likely be charmed by the film and specifically the relationship between its three central leads. It carries many of the same issues that phase 4 has been riddled with, but is far more fun, colourful and creative than many of its predecessors.