Action Adventure

Review: ‘The Marvels’ is a Fun, Fast-Paced and Action-Packed Sequel, and a Return to Form for the MCU

November 10, 2023Ben MK

The notion that there could be a bad Marvel movie was once something only few moviegoers could fathom. Yet, here we are in 2023, and despite Marvel Studios' best efforts, audience fatigue appears to have gotten the better of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether it's box office disappointments like The Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania or small-screen let-downs like Secret Invasion, Marvel's projects can no longer be considered a sure bet. But can The Marvels restore viewers' faith in the iconic mega-franchise and bring back some of the fun and charm of the MCU of old?

It's been three decades since former pilot Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) first returned to Earth since gaining cosmic powers, and a lot has changed. Since uncovering the lies told to her by her former Kree comrades, she went back to the Kree homeworld of Hala, destroyed their Supreme Intelligence, and has gone on to become the liberator of alien species all across the galaxy. Meanwhile, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), the daughter of her good friend Maria (Lashana Lynch) has grown up and become something of a super-powered hero as well. After gaining light-based abilities from her encounter with Wanda Maximoff in Westview, Monica now works with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) aboard the top-secret S.A.B.E.R space station, monitoring Earth-bound threats from the upper reaches of the atmosphere. But when they detect a strange rift in the fabric of space-time itself, not even their combined might may be enough to stop what's coming.

Enter Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a seemingly ordinary teenager from Jersey City who happens to idolizes Captain Marvel, and who also happens to be no slouch in the superpower department either. After putting on a mysterious bangle gifted to her by her grandmother, Kamala gained the ability to manipulate light and transform it into physical matter — a power that she put to good use to save her hometown, earning herself the self-appointed codename Ms. Marvel in the process. However, when that same space-time anomaly — the work of a Kree revolutionary named Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) — starts wreaking havoc with her, Monica's and Carol's lives, causing them to switch places with one another whenever they activate their powers, it sets Kamala on a collision course with her superhero destiny. Thrust into the middle of Dar-Benn's scheme to drain the life from other planets in order to restore Hala to its former glory, Kamala must leave her mom (Zenobia Schroff), dad (Mohan Kapur) and older brother (Saagar Shaikh) behind and join forces with Monical and Carol to try and stop Dar-Benn from destroying the universe. But with each new space-time rift leading to a further destabilization of the membrane between realities, will they be able to complete their mission before it's too late?

Directed by Nia DaCosta and written by DaCosta, Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik, what follows is a fun, fast-paced spectacle that harnesses the full potential of girl power, taking it to the nth degree. That said, it's not just the female moviegoing demographic that will get a kick out of what The Marvels has in store, but general audiences as well. From the film's many action-packed set pieces, set against the backdrop of composer Laura Karpman's electrifying and energetic score, to the equally plentiful comedic interludes that bring a welcome and familiar sense of levity to the proceedings, there's no shortage of things to adore about this sequel to Captain Marvel, even for those who may not have tuned in to WandaVision or Ms. Marvel. Of course, none of that would matter if the on-screen chemistry between Larson, Parris and Vellani wasn't 100 percent on point.

Thankfully, that isn't the case. And despite the story being a largely forgettable affair, it's precisely that buoyant chemistry between its three leads that makes the result so genuinely crowd-pleasing. Nevertheless, those who weren't partial to its 2019 predecessor won't necessarily see their minds changed by this followup. Still, The Marvels manages to soar higher, further and faster than some of the MCU's recent offerings. And while it may be too soon to declare that Marvel is back, at least it bodes well for the future and what comes next.

The Marvels releases November 10th, 2023 from Walt Disney Studios. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for action/violence and brief language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 45 min.

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