Sunday, May 26, 2024
Culture

The Marvels: A Lively Journey Through Marvel’s Expanding Universe

(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.


Director: 
Nia DaCosta

Where to Watch: In theaters

Release Date: November 10th

Rated: PG-13

Run Time: 105 mins

Starring: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Seo-Jun Park, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, and Samuel L. Jackson

Synopsis: Carol Danvers, also known as Captain Marvel, has successfully reclaimed her identity from the oppressive Kree regime and sought vengeance against the Supreme Intelligence. However, unforeseen consequences emerge as Carol finds herself bearing the weight of a universe in disarray. Tasked with unraveling the mysteries of an anomalous wormhole connected to a Kree revolutionary, her formidable powers become intertwined with those of Jersey City’s devoted Ms. Marvel enthusiast, Kamala Khan, and Carol’s estranged niece, now a S.A.B.E.R. astronaut named Captain Monica Rambeau. In an unexpected alliance, this trio must overcome their differences and harmonize their abilities to embark on a mission to save the universe, aptly named “The Marvels.”

In the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Marvels has had its fair share of challenges, from a postponed release date to low box office predictions. Yet, as the film finally hit the big screen, with an open mind and tempered expectations, I found The Marvels to be neither the best nor the worst film in the MCU franchise, a sentiment familiar to MCU fans who recall the underwhelming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. While the film may not reach the heights of some of its predecessors, it manages to be an admirable addition to the Marvel franchise, offering unique elements that set it apart from the rest. To add to the experience, I highly recommend watching the film in IMAX.

Why Watch The Marvels?  

For families and MCU enthusiasts, The Marvels is certainly worth a watch. It’s peppered with Easter eggs, references, and captivating appearances that are bound to make MCU fans happy. The film introduces a cast of exceptional actors who embody their comic book counterparts, breathing life into the characters we’ve come to know and love.

Iman Vellani’s portrayal of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel is endearing, capturing the audience with her charm and innocence, much as she did in her popular Disney+ show, which I recommend. Her family remains an integral part of her life and in the film as well, and the tone of the film borrowed from the Ms. Marvel series adds a welcome sense of familiarity. Kamala’s journey as a superhero promises to be a compelling arc in the MCU, and hopefully, they take advantage of this opportunity. 

Teyonah Parris shines (pun intended) as Photon/Monica Rambeau, a character who showcases Black excellence in STEM and successfully mirrors her formidable comic book counterpart. I did like how the movie explored her relationship with Carol Danvers, providing an understanding of how that affected her. We also discover a bit more about Monica’s past, which I found very intriguing. With powers that include traveling at the speed of light and manipulating energy, Monica is undoubtedly one of the MCU’s most influential figures. Her character’s development holds great promise given Marvel is able to write her correctly going forward. I hope to see her and Adam Brashear (a Black sort of Batman and Superman combined) on-screen at some point. 

Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury takes an unexpected comedic turn in The Marvels. While his signature humor shines through, this version of Fury diverges from previous iterations, likely due to the film’s campy moments. Hopefully, Fury will regain his more serious demeanor in future appearances, especially considering the post-Secret Invasion landscape.

Brie Larson’s reprisal of her role as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is a decent performance. As the MCU’s most formidable character, at least until Monica fully embraces her powers, Captain Marvel’s veteran combat skills take the spotlight. The film provides intriguing glimpses into her character’s layers, although her character arc’s resolution might leave some viewers yearning for a deeper exploration. Her sidekick and cat, Goose, returns and is still providing laughs in this film as he eats pretty much anything in sight.

One notably tense moment between Carol and Kamala stands out, warranting a more profound exploration and serving as a compelling closing arc for the film. Moving forward, Captain Marvel’s appearances in the MCU might benefit from pairings with other Marvels, as her character may not be able to successfully carry a solo film entirely on her own. Nevertheless, her presence in the MCU is one I do hope to see.

One of the film’s standout moments is the introduction of the planet Aladna, a lighthearted and amusing addition that aligns with the film’s musical aesthetics. Its humor is well-placed and adds a welcome dash of fun. The world is colorful, with beautiful costumes and enjoyable singing, I did enjoy in particular Aladna’s people. This is a moment where we get to see Carol be more vulnerable. 

The Marvels excels in its action sequences, with the characters seamlessly shifting between locations as they deploy their powers. Director Nia DaCosta judiciously employs these dynamic moments without overindulging in them.

Zawe Ashton delivers an excellent performance as Dar-Benn, even if her character falls into the familiar trap of being somewhat overshadowed. Her portrayal, marked by a clear motivation and Kree heritage, harks back to Thanos in many ways.

Zawe Ashton as Dar-Benn in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

This film, though, isn’t without its shortcomings. Occasional out-of-place dialogue and a slightly convoluted plot can make it feel somewhat disjointed at times. The relationship between Monica and Carol, while intriguing, could have been more thoroughly explored, capitalizing on the potential of their respective connections to admirers Kamala and young Monica.

But the real treat lies in the post-credit scene, a moment that had audiences buzzing with excitement. It delivers the cameo that fans have eagerly awaited and sets the stage for what’s to come in the MCU. Thought I was going to give it away, huh? Got to go see for yourself.

Director Nia DaCosta on the set of Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.

Conclusion:

In summary, The Marvels is an enjoyable and entertaining cinematic experience. While it might not demand an immediate rush to theaters, it is worth experiencing on the big screen, where you can immerse yourself in its time and space-bending narrative. I think that director Nia DaCosta did her best to make this film work, and look forward to seeing her future work outside the MCU. Don’t forget to stay for the post-credit scene, which promises a tantalizing glimpse into the MCU’s future.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

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