A marvelous delight: “The Marvels” takes flight
Today is the day that I, your beloved reviewer, who suffers gallantly through trashy superhero films to serve my sacred duty to The Times-Delphic and the people of this blessed land of Drake, am about to do something that will be remembered for eons to come. Hold your breaths, my dear readers, for I am about to praise a Marvel movie.
“The Marvels” is the latest installment in Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the companion to the 2019 “Captain Marvel” (the origin story of Carol Danvers) and a continuation of the hilarious 2022 television miniseries “Ms. Marvel” (the origin story of Kamala Khan). It also references events from the 2021 television miniseries “WandaVision” — specifically, events from Monica Rambeau’s storyline. The three women switch places through teleportation and form a team to fight Dar-Benn, the new leader of the Kree, after Rambeau comes in contact with an anomaly in space.
Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani reprise their roles as Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau and Ms. Marvel, respectively. Zawe Ashton joins the cast as Dar-Benn and Park Seo-joon stars as Prince Yan of Aladna. Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur and Saagar Shaikh return as Kamala’s mother, father and elder brother, while Samuel L. Jackson returns as the iconic Nick Fury. The movie is directed by Nia DaCosta of “Candyman” fame, and DaCosta co-wrote the screenplay with Megan McDonnell (“WandaVision”) and Elissa Karasik (“Loki”).
To be completely honest, I was expecting a subpar film considering the fact the past few Marvel offerings have been the bane of my existence. To say that my eyes couldn’t believe what was happening on screen would be an understatement. Marvel had, after ages, made an entertaining movie. My friend and I giggled hysterically, gasped and stared unbelievingly at the hilarious absurdity of certain scenes. DaCosta’s fast-paced narrative and intimate direction, along with an absolutely hilarious and genre-breaking screenplay from McDonnell and Karasik, made for a pleasantly surprising film.
One of the best things in this movie is the performance of its ensemble cast. Larson, Parris and Vellani have brilliant chemistry — complementing each other’s characters with effortless ease. Larson brings a saddened maturity to Captain Marvel — this isn’t a hero who’s simply moved on from the things she’s faced, often hiding her guilt and trauma behind her shining armor. Parris plays a grieving and slightly in denial Rambeau with great ease. It is Vellani who absolutely steals the show as an adorable Kamala — a character that is much younger than the other heroes but has equal, if not more, emotional depth and a very well set up arc from the television miniseries. You can’t not cheer for her as she’s teleported from Jersey City to fight off intergalactic space villains while also fangirling over Captain Marvel. Kamala’s family is absolutely fantastic, with Shroff playing a hilariously overbearing mother (even while she’s in space!) while Kapur and Shaikh throw around funny lines with amazing comedic timing.
“The Marvels” is an incredibly charming film — funny, goofy and innovative, and it is a good reminder that, when used well, the “superhero formula” can still make for a very entertaining movie. DaCosta doesn’t expect you to know every tidbit from the MCU — this is just a silly little movie where you don’t have to wonder how this connects back to the other movies or TV shows. You don’t have to worry about the logistics of their superpowers and how they’re harnessing energy from the electromagnetic spectrum – keep your brain in the freezer and just enjoy the show. The “Freaky Friday” switcheroo is played really well and makes for some really funny sequences. The stunt team goes out of their way with the fight choreography, incorporating the switching with some very innovative sequences, which is aided by some great editing by Catrin Hedstrom and Evan Schiff.
DaCosta retains some of the graphics from “Ms. Marvel,” which fit in really well in this film. She does a great job meshing the broody tone of “Captain Marvel” and the goofiness of “Ms. Marvel” creating a movie that has its fair share of tonal shifts that fit in with the screenplay quite well. The best thing about the movie is that underneath its humor and fun goofiness, it poses heavy questions on hero worship and military propaganda. It questions Captain Marvel’s narrative as a hero — is she a liberator or a destroyer? A near god or just a woman who abandoned her family? “The Marvels” doesn’t just show you Captain Marvel, the mighty and infallible cosmic hero. It also shows you a scared and guilt-ridden Carol Danvers as it brings up taking accountability and looking out for the people around you. The movie explores the journey of these three different characters — each struggling with the baggage that comes with being a hero as it questions what makes a true hero.