Captain Marvel entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe at a pivotal moment, following Thanos’s snap. Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) final act before turning to dust was to send a message to Carol Danvers. The role of Captain Marvel in the universe and the story should have been more significant, but the audience, mainly due to Brie Larson’s portrayal, struggled to fully embrace the character. Yet, Captain Marvel possessed the necessary gravitas, and the film successfully introduced the character. I wonder what viewers who did not appreciate Captain Marvel will think about The Marvels?
In brief, let’s touch upon the plot of the film. After Hala is plunged into darkness because of Captain Marvel, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) embarks on a quest to find Aisha’s legendary bangle and ultimately succeeds. Audited by the remnants of doorways left by Dar-Benn, Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau touch the door. Upon touching it, the names Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) become connected. The trio, compelled to form a team, chases after Dar-Benn, causing trouble by opening gateways from planet to planet.
Marvel’s Phase 4 era, which began with Wandavision, did not fare particularly well. As of 2021, Marvel, by incorporating Disney’s series into the universe, made it obligatory to follow them all. While the idea may seem logical from a distance, it ultimately turned into a disadvantage. Viewers couldn’t keep up with all of them simultaneously, and those who did were not entirely satisfied with what they watched. Unfortunately, to fully grasp The Marvels, one must be familiar with the series. Watching Ms. Marvel is necessary to know Kamala Khan. Watching Hawkeye is essential to know Kate Bishop, whom Kamala visits in the finale. Watching Secret Invasion is needed to answer why the king of the Skrulls is not Talos.
The most significant advantage of The Marvels is that it offers an enjoyable story even if you don’t follow the universe closely. However, the film’s disadvantage is its entry into the story from the finale of Ms. Marvel. For someone who hasn’t followed the series, the film feels like a movie where you missed the first 20 minutes because you couldn’t catch up. Nevertheless, the film, like Captain Marvel, does not require deep understanding or background knowledge, is entirely lighthearted, and is built on the enjoyment factor. For those who want to have fun while enjoying their popcorn, The Marvels is an excellent choice.
Encountering a film entirely centered on entertainment, in stark contrast to Captain Marvel, caught me somewhat off guard. Nevertheless, they did it justice. The movie manages to be quite enjoyable on many fronts. Kamala’s family, the rescue operation involving Goose and cats, the absurd singing communication of the people reminiscent of Doom Patrol, and many other details succeed in eliciting laughter. Alongside the fun, the film also offers several well-executed action sequences. Considering Marvel’s past issues with VFX companies, the effects in the film are also remarkably well done. In summary, The Marvels is a complete popcorn movie.
However, The Marvels also exposes that Kevin Feige might be facing creative stagnation. Marvel’s universe being stuck between the Kree and Skrulls for a considerable time becomes monotonous. While I find the concept of Dar-Benn stealing the planets’ resources creative, the fact that the story is still unfolding in the same environment in such an expansive universe suggests that things behind the scenes are not going well. Marvel, despite initiating the multiverse concept with Phase 4, has not expanded it enough to satisfy me, leaving the question of “Where is this franchise going?” unanswered. We knew somewhat where the story was heading before Endgame, but Phases 4 and 5 have yet to provide a response to this question. While the final scene of the film and the post-credit scene may open doors to new beginnings, I am doubtful about how much we will witness. The turmoil within Marvel is evident.
Despite all its disadvantages, I enjoyed the film immensely. Although many opinions are rough against her, I appreciate Brie Larson and her character. However, the one who made the film watchable for me is Kamala Khan. Iman Vellani is indeed gold. She made Ms. Marvel watchable as well. Her energy, expressions, and portrayal of a young girl fascinated by superheroism are truly magnificent. Even though we haven’t seen her in a project outside of Marvel yet, Iman Vellani has undoubtedly entered my list of actresses to follow after The Marvels. As a final note, I can say that I liked Zawe Ashton’s character and that she is one of the few – debatable – villains in the Marvel universe pursuing a reasonable cause.
In essence, The Marvels is a highly enjoyable popcorn film that even those who do not follow Disney’s series can understand. Departing from the serious tone presented until Endgame, where we saw Captain Marvel in a vulnerable, more emotional light, the film narrates the battle against Dar-Benn, who sacrificed herself to save a people, following in the footsteps of Infinity War. Despite delivering well in terms of action and entertainment, the fundamental problem, aside from the disadvantage of not following the series, is the universe being stuck between the Kree and Skrulls. The film manages to turn these disadvantages into advantages somehow, mainly due to the charisma of its cast. While Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris are undoubtedly talented actors, for now, the biggest winner of the film and the ongoing faltering universe is Iman Vellani.
Cast & Crew
director: Nia DaCosta
writers: Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik
starring: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Park Seo-jun, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Lewis, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Lashana Lynch
USA | 2023 | 105 MINUTES |