The Marvels Digital Review
“The Marvels” was a light and breezy female-ensemble superhero flick that deserved better attention when it was in theaters. Now that it’s available to own, fans of the genre can see how much fun it really is.
The ensemble film follows three different female superheroes at various points in their lives. After helping the Avengers save the world from being annihilated by Thanos during “Avengers: Endgame,” Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) has isolated herself in the vastness of space, trying to recover from the trauma of the Kree programming and conditioning. Then there’s Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Carol’s estranged niece, who felt abandoned by her auntie because she was busy being Captain Marvel and couldn’t be there to comfort her when her mother was dying of a terminal illness. Finally, there’s Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), the youngest hero of the trio, who idolizes Carol because of her heroism but is unaware of their strained relationship.
Though Carol had destroyed the Supreme Intelligence on Hala, it created a power vacuum that would render the planet uninhabitable as the fallout from the war would create unbreathable air, oceans that dried up, and a sun that’s losing its power. So the Kree’s new leader, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), devises a plan to get revenge on Captain Marvel by using one of the two Quantum Bands to create a network between space so that she can jump to and decimate every planet that Carol has helped. But every time Dar-Benn uses the bands, it creates an anomaly that impacts the entire network, including a jump point near Earth’s S.A.B.E.R. space station run by Nick Fury. As such, Rambeau is sent to investigate the phenomenon while Carol investigates another. When they both touch their respective jump points, their powers, including Kamala’s, get entangled, causing them to switch places every time they use it.
With their light-based powers entangled, they must work in concert to defeat their common foe, all the while preventing a catastrophic event that could destroy one universe and others – this is the multiverse saga, after all.
“The Marvels” is one of the more breezier installments of the MCU. With a runtime of 105 minutes, the film moves at such a lightning-fast pace that it keeps things light without overstuffing the story with unnecessarily long exposition or action set pieces that do nothing to advance the story. As such, we get a more focused work about the trio of titular heroes, each of whom must resolve their conflicts or remove their biases while facing a villain who threatens to destroy the fabric of reality. So, director Nia DiCosta reveals the roots of Carol’s stoicism and isolation while unveiling why Monica’s anger and frustration toward her beloved aunt are justified. While there are some emotionally heavier moments, Vellani’s presence adds some much-needed levity to a film dealing with trauma and estrangement. The young actor’s bubbly performance and the character’s enthusiasm makes it more enjoyable and entertaining than previous Marvel efforts.
Though “The Marvels” is one of the more entertaining MCU flicks in the entire “Multiverse Saga,” its plot can only be described as a disaster. Nothing about its unoriginal story is remotely interesting, let alone get the audience fully engaged with what’s happening on screen. Then there’s the uninspired villain whose quest for vengeance is the same as any other villain before her. It’s very formulaic and something we’ve seen in one form or another, making everything about “The Marvels” predictable in its structure and tone. Luckily, the film moves so quickly and focuses on the trio of heroes moving towards reconciliation and learning the value of humility that it overshadows those glaring flaws. But audiences will feel the need for more originality in its story. The only thing that’s keeping things together is the trio of heroes who bond over the course of the film. While the three individual arcs may seem to overstuff the film, the chemistry between them and the comedic chaos of the body swapping that goes along with using their powers keeps things exciting and fun.
DaCosta goes all in with making things as funny and thrilling as possible regarding body swapping. As a result of using their powers, characters are confused as to where they are and how they should react to the situation they are currently in. The chaos of it all provides hilarious moments for the audience. One scene sees Kamala suddenly finding herself in space while Monica is at the Khan household trying to explain to Kamala’s parents what exactly is happening. The body swaps due to the power entanglement are an excellent means of bringing these three characters together while working towards reconciliation and managing expectations when meeting your heroes.
“The Marvels” is far from perfect, but it isn’t exactly the disappointment the box office and harsh critics make it out to be. The flaws lie within its shaky plotting and the expectation that audiences have prior knowledge of events that have occurred throughout the MCU. The latter remains problematic for those who aren’t caught up or fully invested in the MCU. As such, the story comes off as incoherent as it expects the audience to know who is who. There simply isn’t enough time to have a recap to flesh out their stories for those who did not watch “WandaVision” and “Ms. Marvel.” As such, the character development can feel a bit off. So the film has to rely on the cast chemistry to keep things interesting, and Larson, Parris, and Vellani are like long-lost sisters who finally reunite after being seperated from each over for a very long time.
Ultimately, DaCosta’s “The Marvels” is a fun and playful cosmic family adventure that unpacks personal traumas through Carol’s stoicism and isolation, processes estrangement through reconciliation through Carol and Monica’s relationship, and explores hero worship through Kamala and Carol. It may have an uninspired story and is burdened with an overexposure of MCU content on Disney+, but its still an entertaining flick that tries to do new things to keep things exciting, like having a bright and colorful musical number that should bring a smile to your face.
Here’s the full list of bonus features that will be available on the Digital and Physical copies of “The Marvels.”
Entangled – Take a cosmic trip behind the scenes on The Marvels with the cast and crew of the film. Learn how director Nia DaCosta and the team took on such a vast production, and dive deeper with more details about Marvel’s first-ever musical number.
The Production Diaries – Experience the lively, upbeat set of The Marvels as cast and crew recall candid and heartwarming moments, along with hilarious anecdotes.
Captain-in-Residence – Kamala finds herself in Carol’s ship after an unexpected switch and incredulously picks up a call from Valkyrie.
It’s Under Control – Carol, Kamala, and Monica find themselves brainstorming for solutions on Aladna.
Space Yoga – Muneeba teaches yoga while an exasperated Nick Fury looks on.
The Chase – Chaos ensues as Ty-Rone chases Kamala in a tension-filled scene.
Watch some hilarious outtakes on set with the cast and crew of The Marvels.
Listen to co-writer/director Nia DaCosta and VFX Supervisor Tara DeMarco talk about the film.
“The Marvels” is available on Digital today, arrives on Disney+ on February 7, and arrives on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ and DVD on February 13.