The Marvels Movie Review: The Start Of One Of MCU’s Greatest Trinities
WARNING: This review of The Marvels will have spoilers – read at your own risk!
As we get ready to close out 2023, Marvel Studios still had one final MCU movie to release, which was The Marvels, the latest arrival in the Phase 5 slate as they continue to build out the rest of The Multiverse Saga. The last few years have certainly been an uphill battle for the superhero movie genre, to say the least. With a worldwide pandemic affecting productions at every stage, as well as two major Hollywood strikes that recently came to an end, MCU movies have been going through a commercial and critical motion. While hits like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being major standouts, Marvel Studios have also faced its number of challenges with mixed responses to other projects, where does The Marvels fall into this?
Serving as a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel and continues the storylines from WandaVision and Ms. Marvel, The Marvels follows Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau as they form an unexpected alliance when their powers get entangled. With Supremor Dar-Benn as the big bad of the film, The Marvels becomes one of Marvel Studios’ latest cosmic adventures while also centering female heroes as the primary focus. The Marvels brings some of the better elements of the MCU together, with some of the best ensemble presence of all time while also allowing three characters to grow in their own respective rights.
Larson’s Captain Marvel continues to be a shining star for the MCU, and while the first movie focuses very much on her empowerment, The Marvels goes more underneath the surface and explores territory for her as Carol is dealing with past actions catching up to her. Having the presence of long-time surrogate family members like Monica to meeting a new superheroine with the biggest admiration for Captain Marvel, Carol becomes a character with more layers that were perhaps missing from the first film.
As someone who had gotten invested in Parris’ Monica from WandaVision, it was exciting to see the MCU finally get to the bottom of the rift that existed between her and Carol as the latter was out of her life for quite some time. The Marvels allows them to finally heal wounds but also get a better understanding of the deeper pain that Monica has had to endure, with one major revelation about her trauma with The Blip and the loss she suffered when she came back. However, she is facing a whole new situation now, but more on that a bit later.
Vellani’s Ms. Marvel is still one of the ultimate best casting choices for the MCU in its entire run and she, without a doubt, becomes the breakout star of The Marvels. Kamala gets to be the eyes and ears of the younger audience, who would easily be reacting the same if they were meeting their life-long idols like Captain Marvel. But from all the comedic moments to her fangirl scenes, Kamala does get to experience growth and still remind the audience that she is still a teenage girl who has only been a superhero for a little while; her journey has just begun.
Larson, Parris, and Vellani’s chemistry is the heart of The Marvels, and it is something we need more of in other MCU movies. The Marvels is also a testament that we can have other team-up movies than just the Avengers, and ideally, Captain Marvel 3 (or are we calling The Marvels 2? This is confusing) will be able to happen and bring these women together. Samuel L. Jackson plays a supporting role, but a funny one as it is genuinely a blast seeing him getting to lean into the lighter sides of Nick Fury.
The supporting cast of Ms. Marvel is an absolute delight in this movie, and seeing a Muslim family get to have some of the most memorable moments of the film (both emotional and comedic ones) speaks a lot to this Middle-Eastern critic. Brown families are still so rare to see in Hollywood, especially in the superhero space and to see the MCU bringing them in, and showing that these families exists, is what we need more of in these blockbuster franchises to help normalize their presence, as many Brown cultures sadly get racially stereotyped.
The action beats of The Marvels is a refreshing one because of the place-switching twist, allowing the MCU to give the audience something new while also leaning into the franchise’s strengths with battle sequences. While other MCU films have been victims of rushed VFX work, The Marvels is one of the Marvel Studios projects where you don’t really feel you are watching a video game at any time. Nia DaCosta’s excellent work as the director comes through as The Marvels have more personality and light to shine with,
The Marvels does a decent job in having a better big bad in comparison to Captain Marvel as Supremor Dar-Benn gets at least a bit more development and reasoning for what she is doing. However, despite a strong performance by Zawe Ashton, Dar-Benn does quickly become another forgettable MCU baddie at times, and by the time the film reaches its end, you don’t really feel much of her impact anymore. But even with mixed writing for Dar-Benn, it doesn’t take away the great qualities of The Marvels that make it one of the better Phase 5 movies.
OK, it is time to talk about that post-credits scene as we go back to Monica’s ending, so here is the final spoiler warning!
It is easy for the MCU to make their post-credits scene more important than the actual films that audiences go and see. Luckily, The Marvels managed to have an organic teaser that fits with the overall movie while also giving one of our central characters a major arc to deal with in future projects.
Seeing Monica trapped in another universe (the Foxverse? Which Earth is this?) where she meets a variant version of her mother, who is Binary on this Earth, was a welcomed surprise. This will obviously be an emotional beat point for other MCU projects to explore, but it leans into the greatness of the multiverse where you can have these powerful stories between one character and a different version of someone they knew on their world.
As The Marvels marketing made it obvious that the X-Men would somehow get involved, we were expecting Kamala to be the one to perhaps meet another mutant, given the revelation in her show. But instead, Monica becomes the latest MCU player to meet one of the famous X-Men characters, with Kelsey Grammer reprising the role of Beast – while short and sweet, it raises so many questions where they are exactly going with all of this in The Multiverse Saga.
Overall, while lacking a compelling villain, The Marvels is a shining beacon for the MCU in Phase 5, showing that female stories are something we need more of, as this is now one of the best trinities that exist within the franchise. Hopefully, it won’t be too long until we see them united on screen once again, as this is a group that we are absolutely ready to see more of in the future.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Marvels, starring starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau/Photon, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Zawe Ashton as Supremor Dar-Benn, arrive in theaters tonight.