In the ever-expanding cosmos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Marvels arrives in what is easily the darkest period of MCU fandom. Major news outlets are writing hit pieces with obscured information, superhero fatigue is a trending buzzword, and hating on Marvel is the current thing to do amongst journalists/influencers. The Marvels seem to have everything against them.
But under the astute direction of Nia DaCosta, the movie unfurls a new and exceptionally fun chapter in the MCU, that serves as the first film of the Multiverse Saga that crosses over among the numerous dangling threads that have been added to the once universally loved cinematic universe. DaCosta infuses the narrative with an inventive and quirky tone that brings an immense amount of joy that recent Marvel Studios projects are devoid of, creating an experience that feels both fresh and familiar.
The Marvelous Marvels
Brie Larson reprises her role as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel with a far more fleshed-out character that provides more opportunity to utilize her Oscar-caliber talent. Larson brings depth to Danvers, capturing the complexity of a character who balances her celestial duties with personal vulnerabilities. The film delves into the implications of heroism, offering a nuanced look at how recognition and fame impact Danvers’ psyche and her interactions and relationships with others.
Teyonah Parris portrays Monica Rambeau, bringing a logical and grounding presence to the trio. Her character’s development is layered, offering a narrative of healing and reconciliation. Her presence also adds a lot of dimension to what would otherwise be very matte scenes. Parris presents Rambeau as a figure who must navigate the weight of legacy and expectation, all while stepping into her own as a superhero.
Iman Vellani, as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, is a beacon of joy and youthful optimism in The Marvels. Vellani’s portrayal is a delightful journey of a fan becoming a hero in her own right. Her character’s wide-eyed wonder at the world of superheroes is infectious, and her transition from admirer to peer is handled with sincerity and charm. Vellani is the heart of the film and absolutely steals the show.
“Higher, Faster, Further”
The film’s screenplay, penned by DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik, paints a broad canvas of the cosmic Marvel universe. It introduces new locations and characters that embrace the most fantastical elements of the genre. The narrative is an intricate blend of thrilling set-pieces and deep character studies, exploring themes of chosen family, identity, and the necessity of collaboration in the face of universal threats.
The highlight of the film is The Marvels‘ action sequences. The fights are a testament to the film’s inventive spirit. The choreography transcends typical fight scenes, becoming an elaborate dance that beautifully illustrates the characters’ growth and relationships on top of being incredibly f*cking awesome! Liang Yang, Jo Mclaren, and their team deliver fights that fully utilize the powers and cosmic dilemma of The Marvels. It is jaw-dropping awesome and at times whimsically hilarious.
Another round of flowers goes to Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography and Catrin Hesdstom and Evan Schiff’s editing. Bobbitt captures these sequences in all their glory, ensuring that every movement and moment resonates with the audience. All without relying on shakey cam. Then the editors tie it together with transitions that make for fluid, fast-action, yet fully followable fight that makes the powers and panic feel real.
Is the Hate and Worry Warranted?
The Marvels is facing an uphill battle. Captain Marvel has had a full-on cult of haters since her casting announcement. The first film has mixed reception with the negative seeming to have only grown since then. The MCU is in the most adverse state of its iconic tenure in cinema. Across social media and amongst “fans” hating on Marvel is the thing to do. Plus the amazing cast can’t even promote the movie.
While I understand superhero fatigue, I do feel the active engagers are just crying that the sky is falling for Marvel. In comparison to the peak of Endgame, I doubt it will really ever feel that high and that mighty again. It is an unimaginable peak that was not reached, it was created. It has never been done before. The lackluster feeling many are experiencing is justified. And I can’t say The Marvels goes higher or further than those legendary peaks.
The Marvels is not without flaws by any means. The length of the film is refreshingly brisk, but it also feels wholeass scenes are missing in some spots. The CGI quality extremely varies. The villain, while absolutely stunning and delivers a worthwhile performance, is narratively inconsequential and forgettable. There are decisions that make sense in terms of crowd-pleasing, but in terms of logic to the situation, are kind of dumb. And this Nick Fury compared to that extreme letdown from Secret Invasion feels like a completely different character. And I won’t start on the implications it has for that show’s events. But when it comes down to it…
“What you seek is seeking you.”
The Marvels is a fun and refreshing film that is a much-needed palette cleanser from the bad taste of recent MCU offerings. While there are noticeable flaws, the massive strengths of the film and the radiant joy will win over even some of the devoutly skeptical. Nia DaCosta directed an objectively fun movie with a stellar cast. Under DaCosta’s direction, The Marvels delivers resounding notes of family, fun, and spectacle that most will welcome and embrace. But ultimately, people are going to prove themselves right after watching the film.
I think why The Marvels wins out, is because it is the first time in the Multiverse Saga that things feel like they are starting to assemble! The Marvels ties in, at least, two of the series to a unified MCU, and the setup is subtle but immense. It feels like we are actually in the cinematic universe rather than concluding from Infinity Saga (GotG3, No Way Home, Wakanda Forever), starting out (Shang-Chi, Eternals, Most Shows), or observing (She-Hulk). It feels fully placed in the MCU the way Winter Soldier did, and it feels like Captain Marvel’s Raganarok.
For being a thoroughly fun film that sparks joy. excitement, and eagerness for what’s next, I give The Marvels an
*The quiet removal of Zeb Wells did increase my score a tiny bit
Marvel Studios’ The Marvels releases in U.S. theaters on November 10, 2023.
About The Marvels
Release Date: November 10, 2023 in theaters
Director: Nia DaCosta
Producer: Kevin Feige
Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt
Screenplay: Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik
Composer: Laura Karpman
Cast: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani
Post-Credits?: There is only 1 mid-credit scene
Synopsis: 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 Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team-up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as ‘The Marvels.’
Are you excited for The Marvels? Are you an ardent hate of Captain Marvel for no apparent reason? Will you go into the film with an open mind? Let us know what you think on social media!
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