Marvel Studios returns with another superhero team up on its hands as it welcomes back some iconic characters we’ve missed seeing on screen. The Marvels, directed by Nia DaCosta, brings together Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers, Captain Monica Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel aka Kamala Khan as they realize that their unique powers have been entangled, making them involuntarily switch places. When a Kree leader, Dar-Benn makes it her goal to purge planets of their resources to save her home, it takes a team of Marvels to stop her.
Given that the writers and actors strike has finally ended, marketing for The Marvels has been tricky as it appears less on people’s radar than previous Marvel films. But don’t let box office numbers or online critic scores fool you. The Marvels has its strengths and weaknesses like any film, but it is perhaps the most fun comic book movie to come out in years with three incredible leading ladies on the frontlines. To walk out of a theater smiling ear to ear after having earnestly laughed throughout the majority of a film is an experience that is difficult to come by, and The Marvels managed to make that happen.
The film wastes no time and immediately drops us straight into a major plot point of the film as it introduces us to Carol, Monica, and Kamala almost simultaneously. We get a brief recap of who they are, what we’ve seen them go through, and how their dynamic is going to play out for the remainder of the film. Frankly, it’s refreshing to see a different kind of “girl power” energy where no one is exactly a girl boss nor is anyone exploited solely for their physical appearance. Instead, we get three unique women with different power sets and conflicting personalities that end up leading into some of the best and most fluid fight choreography, alongside some high energy and engaging dialogue to reflect their team dynamic.
The Marvels’ overall story is simple and cohesive enough as it gets the audience from Point A to Point B within its short runtime of 105 minutes. As funny as the film is, the comedy elements don’t hold it back but rather propel it forward in a positive way. It’s as if to say that women can and absolutely are hilarious, especially when you have a team that meshes well both on screen and off. It is also very clear that Nia DaCosta poured as much of her heart and soul into this film as she was allowed.
However, that is perhaps where the film falls just a bit short. Because this is the shortest runtime of any Marvel film thus far, there are several beginnings to what look like could be heartfelt or significant moments and conversations that are relevant to either character development or heavier thematic elements. DaCosta knew what she wanted to present and the subject matter she wanted to explore deeply. And with an added 20-30 minutes of runtime, that could very well have provided a much more robust story as well as potentially avoiding the age old villain problem that Marvel has been cursed with for years, even with Zawe Ashton’s menacing performance as Dar-Benn. Unfortunately, the film falls just short of giving its characters extra time to bond as well as giving the audience to reflect on each characters’ decisions and the consequences that follow.
No doubt, audiences will find their hearts stolen by Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan who embodies the image of a starstruck fangirl upon meeting her space hero, Captain Marvel. Vellani conveys the perfect representation of every generation and every age group that has ever idolized someone or found comfort in a fandom that they’re obsessed with. We are Kamala and she is us. But her purpose is much more than just a teenage fangirl as we watch Kamala be the glue that keeps the team focused and united, while she herself begins to realize that she must be her own hero.
Brie Larson returns as the ever stoic Carol Danvers but manages to bring emotional depth and humanity to the character. No longer is she someone struggling to suppress emotions or fight who she is. Instead, Larson develops the character into a woman who accepts accountability of her actions followed by correcting her mistakes, and ultimately isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. And finally, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau is someone that has been missed dearly and the desire for more of her character has been high. It is incredible to see Parris’ interactions with the rest of the cast while being able to bring her own unique humor and heart into the picture.
It’s important to note that as much as this movie was Nia DaCosta’s, it also wasn’t enough of her movie, and I certainly hope this isn’t the last we see of her in a Marvel setting. The Marvels was able to bring laughter to audiences as they fed us a winning dynamic between three beloved characters. This film might not have been for everyone or it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the same way Marvel films in general have always been. But one cannot deny that to bring three empowering women together and onto the big screen is monumental, and there’s no doubt that The Marvels means the world to some fans. Also, it’s probably safe to say that if you enjoy musicals, cats, or both, this movie was made for you.
The Marvels receives 4.5 out of 5 Samosas.
The Marvels is now playing in theaters.
Runtime: 1hr 45m
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