For a movie intensely surrounded by the question of superhero fatigue, The Marvels was walking on a thin line since day one.
Thirty years after the events of Captain Marvel (2019), now Kree Leader Supreme Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) is back to seek revenge from Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) for destroying Hala by killing the AI that controlled the Krees. As the plural in ‘Marvels’ suggests, circumstances make Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan, aka Ms Marvel (Iman Vellani), join her to defeat Dar-Benn.
For a movie intensely surrounded by the question of superhero fatigue, The Marvels was walking on a thin line since day one. At this point, it represents a studio that has felt the urgency to smell the tea and make good content rather than running after quantity. It has the pressure to be a good film in a pool of mediocre ones that have failed to live up to expectations by a vast margin. Nia DaCosta is a fresh name on the roaster to have taken the task. Does she succeed? Let’s dissect.
Written by Nia with Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik, The Marvels is a canvas spread across a very wide landscape. There’s a Nick Fury residing on a S.A.B.E.R space station, a Captain Marvel who is looking after the betterment of the space through her private pod, Monica Rambeau is now Fury’s subordinate, and Ms. Marvel is fangirling too hard over all the aforementioned people. All of them are now being overshadowed by Dar-Benn. There is so much to absorb, but also in the correct quantity. Nia partially knows where to pull the plug on things and how and that works.
For someone who has directed Candyman, Nia DaCosta treats the movie with a fascinating perspective. She lets Kamala’s household be of the sitcom vibe, and turns the rest of the world vibrant to fit hers. It also helps because most of the drama comes out of Ms Marvel's side of the story, as the writing gets so good when it comes to her parents. Kamala’s father, called Nick Fury ‘Kambaqht’ at one point, told Captain Marvel to tell Kamala that he is upset about her going to space, and is advising a space ranger to invest in funds, and nothing can be funnier than that. The Marvels is funny when it is supposed to be, peppy because it has a teenage superhero and balanced because Monica Rambeau is a Zen person taking down problems with her suave attitude.
While Nia DaCosta manages to do what Taika Waititi couldn’t with blending humor and heart to an extent, she, like many of the multiverse saga projects, fails to create a good villain. A villain needs to be dreadful enough when the world is in danger. For someone with powers like that of Captain Marvel, the villain against her cannot be just a character with nefarious motives. It is a recurring problem with MCU lately, and there has to be a change. Dar-Benn never really evolves into a dangerous threat in the viewer's mind because she is never given the space to. There is even a bit of forced drama when it comes to the exit of a character. You will see.
Brie Larson continues to be good, Monica Rambeau’s attitude is killer, but Iman Vellani takes home the trophy of being the most entertaining of them all. She is fun to watch on screen in every aspect. It is finally a movie that leaves you with lots of questions. Some good, some bad, but they initiate a conversation which the past few MCU movies have failed to do. I would mention all of them here, but that would be a spoiler. Thank me later.
The Marvels enters the glass-half-full situation and only partially bounces back. But with the last many projects in the MCU, the standard is dropping, and this one feels like some redemption. However, for the superhero culture in general now, anything just average is unacceptable; expectations have skyrocketed because the audience has been exposed to a wide range of content during the lockdowns. Asking them to suspend their disbelief for a mediocre piece of content is a crime; telling them this is the maximum we can do is an even bigger crime. So when I say The Marvels is entertaining but also has a whole lot of scope of being a bulletproof project, it is because it stands on a castle of over 30 films and multiple shows; it has to be maximum rewarding for the audience members who have invested over a decade of their lives.
Also, how aware is Nia DaCosta’s humor when she says “Are we herding cats now?” when there are hundreds of Goose-like cats in the room, more of that, please. The post-credit sequence is the most exciting one since Avengers: Endgame, and you will know why.
The Marvels is an MCU movie that peaks curiosity after a very long time. I do have some questions, but the majority of them are in the good zone. Does it re-establish hope in the Marvel content? Somewhat Yes. Is it bulletproof? No. But, does it have its merit? Yes.