November 10, 2023 / Marvel Studios Canada
Starring: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Samuel L. Jackson, Zawe Ashton, Park Seo-joon
Directed By: Nia DaCosta
Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) 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 (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). Together, this unlikely trio must team up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as “The Marvels.”
Written By Darren
Rating 4 out of 5
The Marvels soars high thanks to the incredible chemistry between Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani that without question makes for one of the best team-ups to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that even with an underdeveloped villain and simplistic plot, is a return to form for Marvel that proves there is still magic within the franchise while giving some much needed insight to its future.
While some audiences have been claiming that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been losing steam since Avengers: Endgame, apart from films like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which built off previous films from the pre-Endgame era of Marvel, The Marvels proves that Marvel can still deliver a crowd pleasing experience as it sets up major plot lines for the future of The Multiverse Saga. It’s a team-up film that brings Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers back to the big screen, and gives Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau, two fan favourite characters of the Disney+ Marvel television series world, their big screen debut. Under the talented direction of Nia DaCosta, who instantly understands the characters she is working with and captures an infectious energy between her leads, The Marvels is never short on action, excitement or laughter that calls back to the earlier entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that helped make it the powerhouse franchise it is today.
While investigating a strange occurrence in space, Carol Danvers finds her powers entangled with Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan, causing them to switch places whenever they use their powers at the same time. Having to put aside their personal differences, Carol, Monica and Kamala must learn to work together to save the universe from a new enemy that has the power to destroy everything and everyone they love.
From a story perspective, the plot of The Marvels is a self contained entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that spends its time focusing on the relationship between its heroes. Kamala is making her big screen debut and finally getting a chance to interact with other characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Carol and Monica have not seen each other in almost thirty years, so there is a lot to unpack for both of them. With a shorter runtime of one hundred and five minutes, no time is wasted as each scene either furthers the story or focuses on the characters and their relationships. The story and villain’s motivation is simple, and while Zawe Ashton chews up her screentime to be a threatening personality, there is no question that more development would have helped her out as Dar-Benn is a fairly one dimensional villain. But as DaCosta knows that the heart of the story is our heroes and not the villain or generic world destroying plot, it’s very easy to overlook the prevailing Marvel villain problem that is once again present here. There is no question the film is at its best when Carol, Monica and Kamala share the screen, as the interactions between them carry an infectious energy that captures the fun of the superhero genre, at the same time as an emotional depth that creates characters you instantly care for.
As with all Marvel films, there is always the question of what comes next. For the majority of the projects since Avengers: Endgame, which have been largely focused on introducing new characters to audiences or giving supporting characters their leading moment, we have not been given many clues as to what the overall direction of The Multiverse Saga is beyond brief teases from the reveal of the names of the next two Avengers films. But, fans are finally getting some much awaited answers as to what comes next. With the final scene of the film and the sole mid-credit scene, major developments occur that give profound insight as to the direction of the remainder of Phase Five and Six, teasing how major comic storylines are going to unfold on screen. It’s something that Marvel fans have been waiting for, and both scenes will have them freaking out in theatres around the world, ensuring that the wait for answers was well worth it.
Without question, the powerhouse onscreen chemistry between Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani is worth the price of admission alone. Every scene they share together, they light up the screen. Whether is be a great comedic moment, a touching scene between Larson and Parris where they unpack the tension and love in their characters’ fractured relationship, or Vellani’s uncontrollable love for Carol and excitement to be joining the big leagues, the bond between Carol, Monica and Kamala is magical, delivering many wonderful moments throughout the film. If anything is clear from The Marvels, it’s that this trio needs another entry together in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as soon as possible. While any character development from Secret Invasion is not acknowledged for Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson is a great supporting addition to the film, capturing the fun, comedic side to Nick Fury that we have not seen enough of recently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though it is Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, and Saagar Shikh who steal the film as Kamala’s family, continuing their brilliant comedic pairing that made them instantly lovable during Ms. Marvel.
With Nia DaCosta at the helm of the film, The Marvels becomes a stylish film full of optimism and light that will leave a big smile on your face. Bringing a fresh perspective to the franchise, DaCosta puts the world ending stakes to the back burner, instead focusing on the characters and the spontaneous fun of a superhero team-up. There is an emotional depth to the characters that feels honest, will tug on your heart strings and has development to it that moves their individual stories forward. Even with having to introduce Kamala Khan and her family to audiences who may have not seen Ms. Marvel, DaCosta within a matter of minutes tells you everything you need to know about the characters and makes it feel like you have seen them in multiple Marvel projects before. In terms of tone, there are some bold decisions that DaCosta makes in the film. One such is a scene as close as we have gotten to a musical in a Marvel property, which is not the safest play with so many fans upset with the direction of Phase Four and Five so far, but one I commend DaCosta for taking as it works well with the fun spirit of her film. And then to double down with that “Memory” needle drop, which is one of my favourite needle drops of the year, just a brilliant move! Overall, the film harkens back to the joyful feeling of the first Avengers film, that combined with a under two hour runtime, is the standalone, fun experience that audiences have been wanting from Marvel.
After many of their recent projects being called out for the subpar CGI, I’m happy to report that the overall look of The Marvels is excellent. There is no doubt that DaCosta has put an emphasis on practical elements where possible, most notably with the colourful sets and costumes that pop off the screen, though the extensive CGI to bring to life these superheroes and their cosmic adventure is impeccable. Whether it was the multiple delays to the release of this film intended to get the story right that gave the post production team the time to perfect the CGI, or Marvel finally giving their digital artist the resources to do their jobs properly, it’s a welcomed return to standard for Marvel that needs to be continued in future projects.
Capturing a dazzling display of cosmic entertainment, The Marvels is a wonderful reminder of the magic of Marvel. From the sensational big screen debut of Kamala Khan and her family, who consistently steal the show with their uncontrollable comedic energy, and a superhero team up that ranks among one of Marvel’s best, there is so much to love about The Marvels. Under the brilliant direction of Nia DaCosta, The Marvels is full of humour and excitement in addition to the signature superhero action of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is the winning lead performances of Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani that makes the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe a true winner!