2 out of 5
I like superhero films. I'm a big fan of Detective Comics (DC) and Marvel. I thought that the cinematic universe that Marvel built from the initial Iron Man film in 2008 through to the end of the Infinity War saga in 2019's Endgame was a masterclass in multi-arc, multi-character, multi-universe story-telling. Characters were introduced and given a back-story and motivation all while building a believable universe that followed its own rules. I felt invested. I cared. I shed a tear at the death of Iron Man and wept at Captain America's resolution of his love story.
Since 2019, Marvel has embraced on-line streaming on the Disney+ platform and brought us many innovative shows that developed characters further an introduced us to new ones. If you've not been keeping up with events on Disney+, you may be a little lost when suddenly there are three "Marvels" in this film. The original Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) was introduced in her own film as part of the larger 2008 to 2019 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Over on the smaller screen we were introduced to Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) during WandaVision. It was never quite clear to me how she got her powers other than she interacted with a witch's hex, or something. It's even a running joke in the film that she doesn't have a superhero name.
In 2022, Marvel brought us Ms. Marvel (played by Iman Vellani), also on Disney+. It was a six-episode series aimed at the tweens demographic and I didn't watch it. Apparently Ms Marvel got her powers because her grandmother gave her a magic bangle. One of the plot-lines here is that a baddie wants Ms Marvel's bangle so that she can have the pair....she already has one. Are you following?
Also, in terms of plot, Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence (a being/machine that runs the Kree planet). Unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilised universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol's estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Confused? Don't forget the magic bangle!
Spare a thought for the poor Skrull who have to leave yet another home and get forgotten about half-way through the film.
The best thing about The Marvels is that it has four female leads of differing ethnicity and age. This is fantastic and taken almost for granted. It is wonderful to see this representation on the big screen in a Marvel blockbuster. The second best thing about The Marvels - and probably the best thing to ever happen to the MCU - is Brie Larson. To have an actor of her standing is amazing but sadly, she is wasted, entirely wasted.
Despite the film’s short runtime of 105 minutes, there is a lack of depth in the storytelling. The film relies on exposition dumps and certain contrivances, like the antagonist’s vulnerability. Director Nia DaCosta keeps thing moving and despite some head-scratching moments delivers a passable film. Was I bored? No. But I am glad it was over when it was. Is this film going to grow the MCU? I doubt it. I've kinda lost interest.
And don't get me started on LOKI Season 2!