A Rushed Mess of a Film
During the first three phases of the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe, the franchise was on top of the world. The movies were averaging about $1 billion per film, and each one was well-received by both audiences and critics. However, after the high energy that came with both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it seems as if the excitement has fizzled out. There are still some projects that premiered with wide acclaim and success, such as WandaVision and Spider-Man: No Way Home, but as a whole, the projects aren’t hitting home runs anymore.
The Marvels follows Carol Danvers after a conflict with the Kree that leads to a civil war, and their planet, Hala, loses its resources. When the new leader of the Kree, Dar-Benn, finds a Quantum Band, she sets out to retrieve the other band, which is in the possession of Kamala Khan. When a jump point is discovered by Nick Fury, he calls upon Danvers and Monica Rambeau to investigate, only for their powers to become entangled with Kamala upon touching it. Now, with the three heroes switching places when they use their powers, they must work together to find a way to stop the switching.
Combining Too Many Projects
With the inclusion of the 33rd film in the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe, there has already been a deep lore established across all of the projects. Add to those movies nine Disney+ series, it can be jarring for the casual Marvel fan who watches the occasional film to understand everything that is occurring in the movies. Previous Marvel films have carried on story arcs from the television series, such as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness carrying on Wanda’s arc from WandaVision. However, it didn’t feel like a major problem in that film, as all of the characters had been introduced before, and the film did a good enough job of explaining the transition of her character in the film.
However, The Marvels demonstrated the problems of interconnecting movies and television. Other than simply being a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, the film also feels like a continuation of three different television series: WandaVision, Ms. Marvel, and Secret Invasion. For those who keep up with every project that Marvel releases, the movie never feels confusing or jarring, but for everyone else, the film simply leaves them in the dark. It doesn’t stop to explain Monica Rambeau’s development from WandaVision or explain the characters introduced in Ms. Marvel. While the Avengers films were able to handle being a culmination of various films, The Marvels wasn’t able to properly combine all the films and television series together.
Having a runtime of 1 hour and 45 minutes, it makes The Marvels the shortest entry in the franchise. This leaves the film feeling quick and breezy, with a fast-paced energy to it. However, it also left the film feeling slightly hollow, as it never takes the time to examine the characters or their emotions on a deeper level. There’s plenty of action that occurs with characters constantly jumping around from location to location, which does provide a great deal of fun, but the film also has many moments where it tries to pull out emotions, only to quickly breeze past these scenes to get onto the next segment.
For example, there’s a moment in the film where Kamala realizes the difficult decisions that come with being a superhero. As a whole, the scene is handled well and could have been one of, if not the best, moments in the film. Rather than exploring these feelings and choices the characters are dealing with, the movie quickly moves on without letting the scene become truly impactful. The movie is stuffed with many of these half-baked moments that, if handled properly, could have provided genuinely memorable key moments in the MCU.
Expanding the Characters
The highlight of the film came from Iman Vellani’s performance as Ms. Marvel. She brings a fun, bubbly personality that breathes life into the story and characters with her seemingly infectious enthusiasm. While Brie Larson has done a suitable job as Captain Marvel, her character seems almost stiff and single-noted up to this point. However, whenever Kamala and Carol share screen time, there’s an almost soft tenderness that’s brought out of her, making her character more likable and compelling. While the first Captain Marvel film didn’t do much in terms of making the character likable, The Marvels does the heavy lifting of making Carol stand out.
Kamala’s family serves as great comedic side characters, providing enough humor to keep the film going. However, the rest of the cast seems out of place. Monica Rambeau’s character isn’t given much to do in the film, leaving her almost forgettable. While her character was introduced well in WandaVision, The Marvels doesn’t utilize her in any interesting ways. Some rather odd choices are made regarding her powers that leave the audience confused.
Stretching the Comedy
One of the bigger criticisms Marvel has had from fans recently has been the extreme emphasis on comedy. Too many projects have felt as if Marvel is parodying themselves. While as a whole, The Marvels isn’t too forceful with humor, it does have awkward moments where the comedy just feels out of place.
Two scenes in particular highlight the absurdness of the humor in Marvel films; one sequence involves cats on a ship and another a musical planet. It felt as if the creators were trying to recreate the comedy writer and director Taika Waititi brought to Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love and Thunder, just without being funny. While The Marvels has moments of actual good humor, mostly coming from Kamala’s character, the rest feels odd and pointless.
Set Up Without a Destination
Too many Marvel projects as of late have felt like setups for future projects rather than movies or series that can stand on their own. It seems as if Marvel is constantly teasing what’s to come, only for those teases to come to fruition years down the line, if at all. The Marvels once again suffers from this same situation, as the movie doesn’t feel like its own story, but rather a foundation for Marvel to introduce other films and series that they have in the works. As mentioned before, the film has a quick energy where it hardly inspects its own story and characters. It seemed as if the filmmakers and producers were in a rush to get to the ending and to the mid-credit scenes that point to future projects rather than simply telling a good story.
The Marvels is currently playing in theaters.