Back when Captain Marvel was in development, Brie Larson caught a lot of negative press when she voiced her wish to have more representation in film criticism, with her words being twisted to make it seem like she hated white men. Because of this controversy, her solo movie was bombarded with negative reviews from angry fan boys. So when The Marvels came out, not too many people were keen on seeing it. This is made even worse with the brutal critical reception of the film. But is it truly as bad as what critics say?
A Kree warrior, Dar-Benn (played by Zawe Ashton) finds a bracelet that’s part of a pair of bracelets that when used in conjunction, would allow her to create portals through time and space. However, she lacks the second bracelet, with the second one being with Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel (played by Iman Vellani). Meanwhile, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson), discovers a rift in space-time and upon touching it, switches places with Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau (played by Teyonah Parris). Upon this discovery, the three have to work together in order to prevent Dar-Benn from getting Kamala’s bracelet and destroying the fabric of space-time.
If Captain Marvel’s solo outing was the definition of average, this movie is far from it. Perhaps what this movie has best going for it is its entertainment value. I couldn’t help but smile ear to ear every time Iman Vellani was onscreen. Her fangirl nature whenever she’s around her idol, Carol Danvers, speaks to each of our fantasies of what it feels like when we finally met our childhood heroes. Not only did she win our hearts with her own show Ms. Marvel, but she bounces wonderfully off of her co-stars, most notably Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris. Vellani’s bright-eyed optimism and intimate nko0wledge of all things Marvel-related proves once again why she is the perfect casting choice as Kamala Khan. While some may find her annoying, I find her endearing and a breath of fresh air for the MCU going forward.
Now I can’t talk about Captain Marvel without mentioning its star, Brie Larson. I can’t stress enough that I really do like her as an actor. Not only can she handle Carol’s discovery of her true power in the first film, but she can also handle Danvers’ more vulnerable moments like we see in The Marvels, when we explore the darker side of her backstory. And just like in her solo outing, Brie Larson absolutely excels when she’s interacting with her co-stars. She truly feels like an aunt to Monica and a mentor to Kamala. Speaking of which, I think Carol’s mentor-student relationship with Kamala feels more organic than even Tony and Peter’s relationship throughout the MCU. Carol would reassure Kamala’s self-worth and abilities, as well as apologize to her whenever she realized she was in the wrong. Despite coming off a rocky start, I’m really starting to like Captain Marvel as a character, and Larson’s earnest portrayal only further solidifies that. Although the Fantastic Four is often thought about as Marvel’s first family, I think The Marvels truly feel like the first super family in the MCU.
However, although I liked the acting and chemistry among the film’s major stars, it does feel rather messy, with the biggest problem being the villain, Dar-Benn. Not only did she feel very average in general, but I for the love of god cannot remember her name. You see, the MCU struck gold when it portrayed its first major villain, Loki, as a misunderstood character. However, this only created villains who just felt like knock-off versions of Loki. Every villain had to be sympathetic, full of misunderstood intentions. But the problem with that is you run the risk of having every single one of your villains feel the same, and thus, not be memorable. While some villains with misunderstood intentions worked in Phase 3, such as Killmonger, Vulture and Thanos, most are in fact, bland and forgettable.
But besides the rather shoddy villain, the plot is really just bare bones. It mostly consists of the characters going from planet to planet filled with another quirky race after another. Really it just feels like empty space meant to keep the plot going. Additionally, the film does lean into the cat humor a bit too much, namely when Nick Fury is in charge of the evacuation of all the members of S.W.O.R.D. via Flerken. Speaking of Fury, he doesn’t really have anything to do here and it just feels like Samuel L. Jackson kind of phoned it in. I’m guessing even he is experiencing MCU fatigue.
Despite having some issues with the pacing of the plot and the generic villain, I enjoyed The Marvels for what it was: a fun blockbuster. Was it meant to be a deep film that makes us think deeply? Nope. But that’s not what he film advertised itself as, it was advertised as a fun space adventure filed with laughs and fun. And that’s exactly what I got. Iman Vellani once again proves that she is perfect as Ms. Marvel and her infectious fangirl energy is both refreshing and endearing to witness. Meanwhile, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel proves that the MCU has a new leader moving forward. Although the multiverse phase may be daunting to head into, The Marvels balances that unease with family and heart.