“The Marvels” is a great example of what the MCU is currently facing: divisive reception, rushed storytelling, a mishmash of ideas, and a confusing interconnectedness between other films. This serves as a sequel to many different Marvel properties and requires lots of previous knowledge before seeing it. We find Carol Danvers on a mission to investigate a wormhole in the galaxy. But her powers become entangled with Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau. They must navigate this strange paradox and stop a new villain intent on using this wormhole for the destruction of other worlds. Can The Marvels stop her?
I’ll give credit where credit is due…”The Marvels” was actually better than expected. Granted, my expectations were fairly low going in, but there’s some fun to be had. The action scenes were exciting and fast paced. Seeing these three women team up after figuring out their power switching gimmick was fun to see. Their chemistry was impressive considering the group had never shared screen time together beyond flashbacks from Monica and Carol’s interactions from years ago. With this being the shortest MCU film to date, it’s nice they were able to become a charismatic little team of their own.
For better or worse, there will be more Marvel coming. MCU fanatics will enjoy the tease of upcoming projects as the post credit scene builds into some exciting possibilities for the next few years. The ideas for a competent plot were there, so I wish the studio didn’t rush the film’s production and gave us a story that felt more fluid. I can see pieces of that story, but it’s not the one we got unfortunately. Captain Marvel has been a divisive character thus far in her Marvel stint, but she is much better in the film. Brie Larson is given more to work with and starts to channel the human side of the character. This is a welcome change as her character in the previous film was wooden and uninteresting. Monica Rambeau added a nice emotional touch to Carol’s story as their relationship comes full circle.
While “The Marvels” has some unexpectedly entertaining aspects, I still wouldn’t consider this a success. For the entirety of the film, I felt that it was being pulled in a few different directions. We get some dramatic character moments, action packed fight scenes, goofy exchanges between characters, and an odd sequence featuring cats with tentacles consuming people to transport them on a ship. Yes, that last part happened. The tone was all over the place, so I couldn’t figure out what audience the film wanted to appeal to. The teenage girl demographic is likely the main audience that “The Marvels” will draw in, so other people going to see it may not latch onto this story as much. Marvel is trying to do too much and appeal to a broad audience that they’re forgetting to make great movies in the process. I think Kevin Fiege needs to hit the reset button or slow down and reconfigure the plan because the current direction of the MCU is not bright. They also need to figure out their villain problem because it continues here. Dar-Benn is one of the most forgettable villains in the MCU to date. Her character’s motivation seems weak and unexplored while her conflict with Captain Marvel doesn’t feel as tense as it should.
I would consider “The Marvels” a homework film. An audience member who wants to enjoy the film must see all of the shows and movies in order to understand what’s going on. If one isn’t on board with the MCU and hasn’t seen the other properties, I’d simply recommend staying away at this point. The quality is noticeably dipping and the process to get caught up is daunting. To get to this movie and wonder if this is what Marvel will be producing for years to come is a troubling thought. The movie is just filler for more material in the future. “The Marvels” tries to be a Captain Marvel sequel, a follow up to the Ms. Marvel TV show, and an introduction to Monica’s character moving forward. Perhaps the film would feel less messy if they built into this storyline more organically. The film is also the shortest MCU movie to date at 1 hour and 45 minutes. So cramming all of these storylines into one movie at the shortest runtime doesn’t make for a good combination.
“The Marvels” has been no stranger to negative internet discourse and divisive reception. There are audiences who went in knowing they’d hate it and audiences who were ready to sing its praises no matter what. I bring you a perspective that gives credit where it’s due but also doesn’t sugar coat the flaws. The film is a mixed bag that was better than expected, but it still doesn’t live up to its potential. A nice dynamic between the three leads and some energetic action sequences make it fun. But a jumbled plot, weak villain, and sense of confusion among the current MCU state bring the Marvels down to a mediocre level. I’d only steer Marvel die hards or the teenage girl demographic to see this as many others will find it forgettable. In any case, Marvel needs a reality check before they lose the mainstream audience.