The Marvels – Film Review

I remember enjoying the 2019 Captain Marvel film while many complained that it was far too feminist for their liking.

While the first film for the female superhero made brave statements, was more on the serious side, and felt empowering for young girls and women everywhere (for those of us who needed it), cementing a well told Marvel superhero origin story (as well as an origin story for Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury). The Marvels, directed by Nia DaCosta, and written by Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik, focuses more on female superhero characters bonding and provides audiences with attempts on light-hearted, silly and fun moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Going down a more comedic path, The Marvels has our usually lonely and independent Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) placed in a team alongside Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani). Together, the trio need to combine forces and cooperate to defeat Kree leader Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) who is sabotaging other worlds for the purpose of restoring her own.

I must confess, Carol Danvers’ stoic personality often makes it seem like she doesn’t have one. But she does, and Captain Marvel shines (both figuratively and literally) when she’s working with her team or is playfully bickering with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), appearing almost bubbly, reminiscent of their chemistry from the first movie.

For the most part, Jackson is at his best when his character Fury is interacting with Kamala’s family, providing the more hilarious light-hearted scenes of the film, especially when they’re confronted with a bunch of space kitties. It is a darn shame that their interactions together in this new film are all too brief. In fact, I feel there is not enough character development among our core trio and everything just feels far too short, shallow, or is force-fed to the audience to move the story forward.

The entire cast do their best with what they’re given, but there’s something missing in this Captain Marvel sequel which doesn’t make it as moving nor as satisfying as we would like it to be. The plot is average, the script is weak, and not once throughout my viewing did I worry for a character’s safety or survival. Even with the story concluding where it did. Nothing ever feels at stake, nothing is as memorable or funny as it should be, and I am neither thrilled nor touched by what occurs in the story.

The only real memorable moment in The Marvels is a cringy one that wastes the talents and potential of beloved South Korean actor, Park Seo-joon. For the rest of the time, the film seems to heavily rely on the quirkiness of Kamala Khan to provide the more comic relief moments amongst our main characters and appears to have a more likable and interesting personality compared to her superhero counterparts. We also don’t know as much about our villain besides the surface level typical villain tropes.

One of the biggest problems with The Marvels is how reliant it is for viewers to have seen previous content from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to appreciate and understand this film. Although it is great that lots of content is provided for the more die-hard fans to consume, this is a double edged sword as it severely alienates the more casual viewers of the franchise as this film is not self-contained.

It’s even worse when we can’t tell the difference between the flashbacks from previous films and series, and the new information that this film disguises as past content. Although the flashbacks inform audiences on what happened to our heroes thus far, it doesn’t provide the film with the emotional journey compared to those who had the time to watch the extensive Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I would be lying if I stated that I didn’t enjoy The Marvels. I had zero expectations and enjoyed it for what it was. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t disappointing, it is. I don’t even think I would have enjoyed it as much had I not watched the Ms. Marvel series beforehand. Now that we’ve endured 15 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Marvels is unfortunately a slightly fun yet forgettable movie that offers nothing new.

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