The Marvels Is a Fun Time, Especially for Fans of TV’s Ms. Marvel (Review)

If you currently have no intention of seeing The Marvels, there is nothing I can say that will convince you. Which is totally fine! (I’m hearing great things about David Fincher’s The Killer, also out this weekend.)

But what I do feel compelled to say, coming out of a Tuesday screening of the Captain Marvel sequel, is that if you were a fan of Disney+’s charming Ms. Marvel series, The Marvels will absolutely have you grinning ear to ear.

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I myself had zero expectations sitting down for The Marvels. After all, it was first earmarked for a July 2022 release, then got hit with no fewer than four (4) release date changes. It reportedly needed at least a month of reshoots — a lot even by Marvel standards. Misogynist Nerd Twitter has been doing what it can to pollute feeds with derision since the sequel was first announced. And there have been what feels like a half-dozen books and exposés in recent weeks detailing the worsening problems with the once-mighty MCU machine.

But as the tight-n-bright, 105-minute movie got unspooling, I found myself smiling, and even bursting with laughter at points, because The Marvels is the most wall-to-wall fun Marvel movie or series since Spider-Man: No Way Home. (This is where I remind you that Guardians 3 was heavy, folks.)

Hitting theaters this Friday, Nov. 10 (technically, Thursday night), The Marvels opens with Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson) led to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary named Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). Exploring the cosmic mystery at Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) behest, Carol’s powers get entangled with both that of her estranged niece-turned-S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (WandaVision‘s Teyonah Parris) and Jersey City superfan Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel’s Iman Vellani). From there, the unlikely trio have to learn to work in concert to derail Dar-Benn’s plan… and maybe herd some Flerken along the way.

The film also stars, most notably, Ms. Marvel‘s Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur and Saagar Shaikh (as Kamala’s parents and older brother). I say “most notably” because, yes, there is also a prince (played by Park Seo-joon) and a Skrull emperor (Gary Lewis), but their roles are very underwritten and/or got left on a cutting room floor along the way — but also because the Ms. Marvel “family” is what brings The Marvels so much of its joy of discovery, as as Muneeba, Yusuf and Aamir get yanked into Kamala’s suddenly superheroic world.

The Marvels is an embiggish deal in that it marks the first “elevation” of a character brought to live-action life on Disney+ to the big screen, and Vellani in turn steals the movie. Kamala fangirling over not just meeting but teaming up with the Captain Marvel is a bit much at times, but Carol and Monica are the first to call that out and try to calm down the teen. The follow-up to Parris’ WandaVision arc is far more subtle. As you may recall from Disney+’s first MCU series, Monica (fka “Lieutenant Trouble” by her “aunt Carol”) visibly bristled at the mention of Captain Marvel; the exact reason for that is explained and dealt with here.

Then, as the heroes of three very different statures strategize for the fight ahead, Larson, Parris and Vellani enjoy a light and lively chemistry that is infectious for the audience. And the action scenes, which by nature are tricky to follow due to the ongoing power-/body-swapping, are deftly directed by Nia DaCosta (Candyman).

Alas, amidst all said fun, there are a pair of very silly sequences in The Marvels. The first one in and of itself (involving the prince), I could have done without. Then when the other silly sequence rolled around, it kind of aggregated into a feeling/shrug of, “OK, I’ll smoke what the writers were smoking!”

The film’s other shortfalls include a wholly unmemorable villain and a startling lack of continuity with TV’s Secret Invasion (perhaps because The Marvels was originally slated to come out first, and the latter reportedly was quite a s–tshow during production).

All told, The Marvels is a fun, funny and snappily paced, but ultimately slight, movie outing. Its ultimate legacy may be how it sets up the TV characters of Kamala and Adult Monica for the future, while its final two sequences, including a mid-credits scene, will have even the most cynical MCU fan talking, paving the way as they both do for fresh adventures involving a familiar face or two….

The Marvels Movie Explained
The Marvels Movie Explained

Before You See The Marvels, What You Must Know From WandaVision, Ms. Marvel

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