The Marvels: Entangled but Entertaining

Sometimes, saving the world means being entangled with those you don’t expect.

In The Marvels, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), aka Captain Marvel, is still dealing with the fallout from her destruction of The Supreme Intelligence. Struggling with the burden of destabilizing the Kree homeworld, Danvers is shocked when she’s transported into the bedroom of young Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel. Soon after, Danvers realizes that her powers have become entangled with those of Khan and her estranged niece, Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). Forced to team up together, the trio must attempt to save the day while saving themselves in the process.

Written and directed by Nia DaCosta, The Marvels is a frenetic and silly entry into the MCU that charts a course for the remainder of this chapter of the franchise, but still feels lost in space in moments. Admittedly, Marvels has a lot of positives. DaCosta has a good handle on her action scenes and the film’s goofy tone is a breath of fresh air in the midst of Marvel’s ever-darkening Phase 5. What’s more, there’s a genuine sense that this is a ‘smaller’ MCU film that focuses on character as opposed to global catastrophe. For once, the fate of the universe doesn’t entirely rest in their hands. (Well, maybe the space-time continuum…)

(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.

However, the real reason that Marvels holds together is a result of its cast. By focusing on the ‘entangled’ journeys of Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani and, of course, Brie Larson, the film shines brightly, giving it an element of fun that will charm even the most cynical of viewers. Without question, the best scenes of the film are the ones where the primary trio are working together, creating energetic banter. As Monica Rambeau, Parris brings a confidence and compassion that keeps the team emotionally grounded. As Captain Marvel, Larson seems to be having more fun in this project than she may have had previously in the role.

But, make no mistake, the brightest star of The Marvels’ cosmos is Iman Vellani.

(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan and Goose the Flerken in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Having stepped onto the big screen (and into an Avengers role) for the first time, Vellani brings the fire that the film requires. Bouncing around the screen with youthful exuberance, Vellani brings an energy to the franchise that has been missing since Tom Holland’s first appearance as your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. As the Captain Marvel fan girl, Kamala Khan, Vellani steals almost every scene with fresh energy that also gets the biggest laughs. (And, make no mistake, Khan’s family is almost as entertaining.) Without question, her energy fuels the film and even reminds the viewer of the joy that this franchise can be.

But the film is not without its flaws. Shifting wildly in tone, the film feels as though it’s runtime may actually be too brief. With frenetic cuts, one gets the sense that this film changed a lot in the editing room in order to tighten things up but, in the process, sacrificed some opportunities. Clocking in at a breezy 105 minutes, the film is the shorted MCU entry to date. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the film does feel like it loses some potentially deeper character moments for the sake of runtime.

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

Having said that, The Marvels is also rooted in a certain sense of joy. 

In some ways, the entanglement of their powers mimics the entanglement of their stories. As the lives of these different women collide, much of the film’s emphasis is on their ability or (lack of) to work together. Each of these women have complex relationships with one another, whether it’s feelings of abandonment, loneliness or straight-up hero worship. As a result, their ability to fight the current villain is linked directly to their ability to fight through their emotional struggles. Conversations surrounding the nature of family and care for one another’s well-being are embedded underneath the war amongst the stars that give the film its soul.

In the end, The Marvels is worth the trip. Despite its flaws, the film’s humour and heart pop onscreen with vibrant fun. For that reason alone, the film succeeds, even if it may not be Marvel-lous.

The Marvels is available in theatres on Friday, November 10th, 2023.

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