Thursday, November 9, 2023

The Marvels - Review (NO SPOILERS)


To say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been sputtering in the post-Endgame world might be an understatement. The quality is mostly still there, with some notable exceptions in the past calendar year, but the financial side of things have certainly taken a hit. For The Marvels, the box office looks to not be too friendly once again, but it’s short, sweet, and ripped from a comic book visuals look to prove to one and all that Marvel isn’t quite done yet, just finding their footing once more.

Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. However, unintended consequences see her 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 two other superheroes (Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani) to form the Marvels.

The brightest spot of this heroic outing is the cast. Whereas the first film offered little for Brie Larson to chew on as a character, The Marvels provides the actress with far more interesting beats to play with. The inclusion of Teyonah Parris is a welcome one, providing a more interesting supporting character in an adult Monica Rambeau than any side characters in the first film. But the real standout of the bunch, and a true star in the making, is a Iman Vellani. As Ms. Marvel, Vellani is a perfect casting choice (the show on Disney+ already proved that but still). The young actress injects a sense of wonder and joy into this affair that elevates the entire thing, and in turn feels like the glue holding this trio together.

What holds The Marvels back from being a true home run is the script. There are obviously a lot of things they wanted to include, and a lot of it works in isolation, but the sporadic editing certainly illustrates just how much was left on the cutting room floor to trim this to its lean runtime. For those that like to label the MCU as episodic, this film might just fit the bill. The bits are fun and the emotional moments mostly work, but a bit more focus on the pacing and progression of the story would’ve worked wonders here.

And that’s not even getting into the one-dimensional villain, which feels lifted straight from the bygone era of poor Phase-One villains. 

Overall, The Marvels is a hell of a good time at the theater. It’s not going to blow anyone away by any means, but its heart is firmly in the right place and its tone feels right in line with what made people love this universe to begin with. The direction from Nia DaCosta is solid as well, focusing the narrative in on the three stars that make this film tick is the right move with the story problems it has. While this is far from the peaks the MCU has reached in the past, it feels like a step in the right direction, a stepping stone to reaching the heights of pop culture again in the near future. 

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