Reviewed by: Mike Klamecki
Brie Larson … Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel
Samuel L. Jackson … Nick Fury
Zawe Ashton … Dar-Benn, a Kree warrior
Iman Vellani … Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel
Teyonah Parris … Monica Rambeau, astronaut for S.A.B.E.R.
Park Seo-joon … Prince Yan
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|Distributor||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
I am a forgiving Marvel fan from way back. I collected the comics, watched the subpar cartoons of the late 70s and 80s, endured the dark ages of the 90s. Was thrilled by Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, multiple X-Men, and two Hulk movies of the early 2000s, and really counted myself blessed to make it to Iron Man and the birth of the MCU starting in 2008 and watch many of them with my kids. I love most of the MCU movies and even like some of the less-popular ones such as “Iron Man 3” (love the Mandarin twist), “Thor: The Dark World” (it’s passable), “Eternals” (multiple watches), and “Quantumania” (was looking forward to the Kang Dynasty).
To my surprise, since the first trailer, “The Marvels” was the first ever MCU movie I had absolutely no interest seeing… and it bothered me. “Why,” I thought, “why don’t I want to see this MCU movie?” And you know what? I was determined to find out the source of my apathy towards “The Marvels.” So after seeing this at my local IMAX I think I know why I was so… meh. To put it simply… this movie doesn’t work… and you know it doesn’t work right from the beginning.
It gets right into it, as we see certainly the most uninimidating and forgettable MCU villain yet which is the Kree Accuser Dar-Been (Zawe Ashton) looking on a Styrofoam looking moonscape for a pair of Nega-Bands which are the main McGuffins of the movie. These bands will give her total power to create space/time pathways across the universe… or something like that. She finds only one, however, because the other one is on earth (we will get to that soon). But oh Dar-Benn… this is where the problem starts.
The last Kree Accuser we saw of any note was Ronan in the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” with his big hammer and goopy face paint. Yet this new Accuser doesn’t look like she can actually lift that hammer she wields, because she is short, very thin, with soft facial expressions. It’s like when your little niece bugs her eyes and tries to look scary. It’s just more amusing than threatening. If they cast someone intimidating like, say, Gina Carano that may have worked, but without a threatening villain we start to loose steam fast.
In quick order, we are then re-introduced to Kamala Kahn or Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) from the Disney+ series who can project solid light structures, Carol Danvers or Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) who can do just about anything except when she can’t, and Monica Rambeau or… Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) last seen in WandaVision who can see the light spectrum, phase through things, fly, and whatever else Nick Fury tells her she can do.
We get a quick backstory that Kamala is a huge fangirl of Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers has been in space for a long time doing her thing, and Monica mourns her mom and is mad at Carol for leaving earth and not coming back. Something about her looking up to Carol as a child and being betrayed because Carol Danvers had more important things to do than hang around Earth… or something like that. It’s a clumsy emotional backstory that really doesn’t make much sense.
We also find out that the three must work together because the NegaBand that Dar-Been stole in the opening sequence has a matching twin on the arm of Kamala Khan that allows her to use her powers. Somehow this cosmic coincidence bonds our three protagonists in such a way that every time they use the powers simultaneously they switch locations which leads to frantically waaaaacky situations, guys! Look at “em go! Anyway, they must train together, becoming a short-term team, to find the other Nega-Band so they can be normal again.
Oh, and throw in a subplot concerning the Kree and Skrull races where the Skrulls are being harassed by Dar-Been to allow the Kree populate the Skrull’s territory due to the Kree homeworld being irradiated and reduced to a waterless, sunless wasteland. This happened, we find out, when Captain Marvel destroyed the AI leader of the Kree people, and this decimated the planet somehow. We are not given many detail,s but this further makes Dar-Been sympathetic and makes us feel like Carol Danvers is kind of a monster.
This really backfires when you get to the final three-on-one fight sequence (as the Marvels try to stop Dar-Been from stealing water from a planet that is 98% ocean for her own burnt-out planet), and we are not really rooting for Dar-Been being bested, but instead we feel kinda sorry for her.
Oh sure she is also trying to steal our sun in the process, but who wouldn’t? And then, when we find out our sun is easily rekindled anyway though self-realized Superman powers, it takes away any weight from the situation.
The best MCU movies have a great villain first and foremost, followed by personable and noble heroes with a past or problem they must overcome. “The Marvels” really stumble in these basic areas with forgettable villains and heroes with no real relatable growth opportunities. You get a sense when you watch this movie that this story is either incredibly thin or the editing was incredibly vicious. Nothing really sticks, and you are likely to forget this movie ever existed by the time you wake up the next day.
I didn’t even get into the weird so awful list of bad writing ideas like CGI kitties in space, a planet where you communicate through singing and costumes, incredibly bland/Disney+ looking space sets, poor Nick Fury being used only as comic relief (remember when he used to be intimidating?), and a double-dutch training montage just to name a few clunkers.
One bright spot, however, is that the offensive language is pretty rare: 6 D**ns and 3 S**ts. There is visually nothing overtly woke (besides a few non-binary looking dancers on the song planet) or nothing very violent either. The mid-credit stinger is pretty interesting as well, but there is no after-credit stinger.
Another bright spot is Iman Vellani’s portrayal of Ms. Marvel’s extremely excited fangirl personality and the cast who portray her fish-out-of-water family members. They provide comically deft performances in a film full of comedic misses from the writers and actors alike. At one point Kamala’s mother tells Kamala, before heading into the final space fight, she is here for a greater purpose, and she must be used for that purpose.
The late, great Pastor Miles Monroe said, “Purpose is the master of motivation and the mother of commitment.” Proverbs 19:21 says,
“Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it’s the Lord’s purpose that will prevail.”
God has His purpose for our lives, and when our desire to follow His purpose lines up with His power being poured into us, we can rest assured that we will live a fulfilled life. God will never force us to follow His purpose for our lives, but He will always show us amazing things when we submit our plans to His purpose. It’s almost as if God’s purpose in our lives energizes us to do amazing things. Maybe not fly into space on a whim, but certainly to be heroic in our own right as we serve others and lead them to know who Jesus the Messiah is and His life-changing gospel.
The last bright spot for “The Marvels” is that it’s mercifully short for an MCU movie at a mere 105 minutes. Yes, thank you for that. And yes, I am a forgiving MCU fan, but this movie… yikes… my forgiveness can only go so far. Marvel needs to do a course correction of some kind, because it feels like this film is the low-water mark of their franchise. This kind of disappointment makes me long for those sub-par, late 70’s Marvel cartoons on the fuzzy UHF channels of my childhood that had great characters and simple, exciting stories. Hmmmm, not a bad idea… I think I’ll do a YouTube search…
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.