The Marvels has a script that’s as messy as it is extravagant with light effects. But that just might be what’s needed for a stumbling MCU.
The Marvels Synopsis
To save her dying homeworld, Kree Supremor Dar-Benn attacks various planets and uses wormholes, i.e., jump points to siphon resources. Meanwhile on Earth, Dar-Benn’s meddling with the galactic jump holes results in the powers of Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan becoming entangled; they will physically swap locations when using their powers simultaneously. To stop Dar-Benn, the trio must work together, beginning with overcoming their entanglement.
I wasn’t excited about The Marvels because it features three MCU heroines that I did not care for.
Carol Danvers, i.e., Captain Marvel debuted to much franchise excitement in 2019—there was so much talk about how she would whack the sh*t out of Thanos’ titanic butt. Didn’t happen, as we all know. Worse, her involvement in Endgame was a cameo at best. I don’t know about you but I remain convinced that someone would have found a way to deal with all those firing ships without her zipping in from the sky.
Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau, hmm, I watched their associated Disney+ series, and while I wouldn’t say their characters or performances were unattractive, they just didn’t resonate. In case you suspect there’s something sexist going on here, I loved She-Hulk, okay? Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau’s storyline in Wandavision just felt too … uninspired to me?
So nope, didn’t look forward to The Marvels. But I watched it anyway since a MCU movie is still a (somewhat) big thing in the movie world. Surprise. While I’m not swooning, while I rolled my eyes at several scenes, I can’t say I hated this latest MCU Phase 5 movie. More surprisingly, it’s all because this is one helluva messy movie.
Yup. It’s a messy and chaotic entry, almost bipolar at times with zany mood changes too. But all that adds up to what is to me the freshest MCU adventure in a long while.
I explain. Almost every MCU movie or series post-Endgame is one of two things, either a character wrap-up or a brickwork for some future cosmic threat. The latter has gotten seriously dreary because after two years, there are many overcooked hints but no real direction of where things are heading.
The Marvels has wrapup and mythos-building elements too, of course, but these largely play second fiddle to fun and adventure. (Which, BTW, could be a minor flaw—the tension between Danvers and Rambeau was played up but flimsily resolved) Though she is but one-third of the team-up, the entire movie feels like a zesty diary entry of Ms. Marvel, with her teenage awe and positivism permeating every moment.
This rubs off. It then makes you inclined to forgive and even enjoy the ridiculous interludes, for example, the totally bizarre Disney princess song and dance sequence on Aladna. (Note: Cap Marvel is a Disney princess! She’s on Disney+!) In my case, it also encouraged me to reconsider whether Iman Vellani is the best new name in the franchise since Endgame. And whether a new team led by her would be what’s needed to jumpstart a fizzling MCU.
The zany team-up, music, and crazy body swaps moreover exhibit a certain wild disregard; incidentally, the power entanglement crisis was never properly explained. I might be overreading this but this disregard hints at an attempt to break free from the stony formulas of Phase 4/5 productions. In a way, a limited return to the “anything goes” joy of comic booking reading too.
Summary: This is a movie with marked flaws but somehow, managed to still be earnest and entertaining. It’s also … a rare MCU episode that doesn’t necessitate toilet breaks, which has to be a plus given how lengthy newer episodes are.
Big Question: Would The Marvels help to reverse superhero movie fatigue? Frankly, I don’t think so. But it might just make the task easier for future entries, I suspect.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.