As Nick Fury and Monica Rambeau are working on the S.A.B.E.R. space station above earth, something strange happens. The portal that they use for intergalactic travel becomes distorted. Similarly, across the galaxy, Carol Danvers sees a similar distortion.
When Monica and Carol investigate and come into contact with the distortion, something extraordinary happens. They swap locations in space with people with similar light-based powers, including teenager Kamala Khan.
The source of the distortion is Kree warrior Dar-Benn. After Carol Danvers destroyed the Supreme Intelligence A.I. that ran their world, the Kree fell into a devastating civil war that ravaged their planet.
Now Dar-Benn is on a mission to restore the Kree homeworld and get revenge on Danvers. To do that, she recovers a long-lost quantum band, and its match happens to be worn by Kamala.
While unexpectedly switching locations wreaks havoc on our heroines, Kamala considers it the thrill of a lifetime as she finally gets to partner with her hero Captain Marvel. The three form a makeshift team to stop Dar-Benn. But to do so they’ll have to not only master the newfound glitch in their powers but come to terms with regrets from their own pasts.
Going into The Marvels, I was wondering if watching the TV series Ms. Marvel or WandaVision was necessary to follow what was going on. While it certainly helps, this movie is easy enough to follow without having seen them.
You don’t really need any additional information to follow the dynamic between the three heroines – enthusiastic and naïve teen, disillusioned niece, and burned-out warrior. Each of them supports the other in a unique way and the three form a team unlike others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One of the more notable things about this film is the action. As the characters unexpectedly swap locations mid-battle, it creates unique, frantic, and elaborately choreographed fight sequences that are fun to see.
Kamala Khan is doing battle with Kree in her living room one moment and then the next is in a spaceship on the other side of the galaxy. Carol Danvers is flying against spaceships at one moment and then in a teen’s bedroom filled with fanart the next. It’s fun seeing the characters thrown off their game and then having to adjust.
Among the leads, Iman Vellani stands out as Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Her youthful enthusiasm and naivete is reminiscent of Peter Parker’s fanboy moments around Iron Man, but she still brings a lot of energy to the cast. She also allows Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau to be kind of the Mom of the trio.
Brie Larson has always been a little flat and unlikable as Carol Danvers, but when she’s paired with the other two of the trio she starts to show a bit more energy and humor and becomes more relatable. Goose also returns as a kind of sidekick to Captain Marvel. The Flerken alien is explored a bit more here and takes a couple of unexpected turns (though not entirely necessary to the plot).
While The Marvels is good enough fun, what this film may be remembered most for is its ending scenes. In the epilogue, we see the setup for what may be one of the next Avengers movies. Then mid-credits, there’s a cameo that will definitely get fans buzzing about what’s next for the MCU.
The Marvels starts out strong, but then it hits a spot that will absolutely divide audiences. Our heroines visit a planet that has a unique way of communicating. I’ll leave it at that. While I have to give credit to the creators for trying to create an alien culture unlike anything we’ve seen before, I felt this was a huge misfire.
The MCU has generally had a degree of realism to it, and this departs from that formula, but not in a good way. It was a lot like the more ridiculous aspects of Thor: Love and Thunder which similarly divided audiences. In The Marvels, it almost felt like the creators were mocking the comic fan audience and saying they can do whatever they want, and we’ll still pay to see it. I’ll be interested to see the public’s reaction to it.
Another issue with The Marvels is Captain Marvel herself. They spent all of the first film and Avengers: Endgame powering her up to a level where she seems almost invincible. She was the only character that could go toe-to-toe with Thanos and his fleet, but then in The Marvels she seems to have difficulty battling a lone Kree soldier in a living room.
Dar-Benn does not feel like a character that could match Danvers in battle after what we saw her do in the previous films. This mismatch of powers further throws the rules out the window that the MCU built up. There are a number of other flaws in logic that I think you can chalk up to script and directorial issues. You’re not expected to think too much in this movie.
I was also disappointed with the use of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. While he was built up as the world’s greatest spy in movies like Captain America: Winter Soldier, here he’s a lovable old grandpa largely relegated to the sideline. The little bit of action he’s given is more for comic relief than anything. Between this and Secret Invasion, it seems like Marvel doesn’t know how to handle his character anymore.
The Marvels is fine. It’s worth seeing on the big screen, especially when the movie theaters are largely lacking in films. But it’s most worth seeing for the end credits scenes and the promise of something more interesting to come.
THE MARVELS REVIEW SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10
Walt Disney Pictures will release Marvel Studios’ The Marvels in theaters on November 10, 2023. Directed by Nia DaCosta, film is rated PG-13 for action/violence and brief language.
Scott Chitwood has been writing about film online since 1995. He is a co-founder of TheForce.Net, IGN Movies, and the Houston Film Critics Society. Scott wrote for ComingSoon until joining Vital Thrills in 2020. Scott is also publisher of Red 5 Comics and lives in Houston, TX.