'The Marvels' Review: Marvel's Female-Led Trio Soars To New Heights The Nerdy Basement

‘The Marvels’ Review: Marvel’s Female-Led Trio Soars To New Heights

It’s time to go higher, further, faster as Marvel Studios ‘The Marvels’ is now streaming on Disney Plus. If you were anything like me and unable to catch this film in theaters then now is the perfect time to experience Marvel’s new dynamic trio in Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel, and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau. The Marvels marks Iman Vellani’s feature film debut as she transitions over from her acting debut in the Ms. Marvel Disney Plus series.

The Marvels is written by Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik, and Nia DaCosta who also directed the film. The film picks up immediately following the events from the season finale of Ms. Marvel which saw Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers swap places. While the finale didn’t give us any context as to how and why that happened, The Marvels provides the additional context needed to fill in that gap. All the while we pick up with Monica Rambaeu on an expedition in space, now working under Nick Fury at SABER trying to piece together the reasoning behind the space-time anomalies.

Through Nick Fury, we learn and see about the growing tension and disconnect between Monica and Carol. The former feeling a sense of abandonment following the loss of her mother during The Blip. This conflict makes for a familial dispute that is both relatable and wholesome in its resolution. The added layer of Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan, at first comes off as annoying and overbearing as she cannot seem to control her inner fangirl as she finally meets her idol. However, once the dust settles on that aspect of her character arc, Vellani is a force to be reckoned with whenever she is on the screen.

'The Marvels' Review: Marvel's Female-Led Trio Soars To New Heights The Nerdy Basement
(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.

Only expanding on her already irresistible charm coming off the heels of her solo outing in Ms. Marvel. Brie Larson on the other hand delivers a more disgruntled and hardened version of Carol Danvers this time around. This is now a woman who’s become a recluse, wallowing in her self-pity for not keeping her word and being there for Monica as promised. This is also a woman who must now re-learn how to play with others and work together as a team, something we haven’t seen Captain Marvel do much of since Avengers: Endgame, and even then, she comes in for a 1:1 battle with Thanos and his ships.

The family dynamic in The Marvels is where the film truly shines outside of the thrilling and exciting action sequences. There are some memorable fight sequences with the film’s main villain Dar-Benn (played by Zawe Ashton), who is probably the film’s weakest link. Her motivations are understandable and one can empathize with them but it screams smaller-scale Thanos without all of the menacing flair one would come to expect from a villain who seeks to save their people.

As forgettable as Dar-Benn was, there is still a lot to commend this film for. The set and costume designs are alluring and the VFXs aren’t as wonky or as blurred as previous MCU installments. The action sequences are great and the leading female trio truly makes the film soar beyond the cookie-cutter MCU formula. We also get a musical number which at first was concerning. However, those concerns are thrown to the wayside once the scene begins and we are immersed in a small musical that is nothing short of enthralling and energetic. It’s always good to see the MCU incorporate different aspects of cinema into a comic book film and this music set piece was one of them.

'The Marvels' Review: Marvel's Female-Led Trio Soars To New Heights The Nerdy Basement
Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Moving on to Teyonah Parris and Monica’s arc in this film, I feel like she was underdeveloped. We don’t see her expand on her power set or truly come into her own as Photon. That can all be left up to her character not wanting to be a hero or wanting an actual moniker and mostly wanting to grieve her mother, but I think we had time for that. I don’t feel like this film in particular was the place for that. Especially coming off Monica’s arc in WandaVision. However, seeing how this ties into her getting past her disappointment with Carol Danvers, it all works out in the end and it’s a minute nitpick I can ultimately overlook.

Nitpicks aside, there’s a palpable chemistry between Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani and I rally behind the leading girl power 1000%. By the film’s conclusion the trajectory for each of these characters makes the future of the MCU quite exciting. More specifically where Monica Rambeau ends up by the end of the film. The climax of the battle with Dar-Benn sees Monica sacrificing herself to further stop this parallel universe from bleeding into hers.

This leaves Monica trapped in a universe where her mother Maria is alive and well as the superhero known as Binary and where the X-Men exist as we meet a new version of Kelsey Grammer’s Beast. Beast mentions Charles Xavier but we do not see him nor do we know which version of Prof. X is in this universe. Is it Sir Patrick Stewart’s Prof. X or is it James McAvoy’s Prof. X? Given that this is Kelsey Grammer’s Beast, the former is most likely the correct answer, especially after seeing him in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

We also get the first official setup for the Young Avengers as Kamala Khan recruits Kate Bishop, reminiscent of Nick Fury recruiting Tony Stark after the events of the first Iron Man film. This time around we do have mutants and insect-based heroes running around different parts of the United States. Those who remember the alternate version of Nick Fury’s recruitment scene will know what I am referencing. Either way, this scene was probably one of the greatest nods to the start of the MCU from one of its biggest fans, Iman Vellani.

'The Marvels' Review: Marvel's Female-Led Trio Soars To New Heights The Nerdy Basement
(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios’ THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.

All in all, despite some very minor lows, The Marvels was a thrilling space adventure full of heart with its familial undertone serving as its driving force. Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris are great in their respective roles but it is Iman Vellani who truly commands and steals your full attention, almost stealing every scene she is involved in. Marvel has a knack for great casting and that can all be accredited to Sarah Halley Finn who has been exceptional when it comes to casting actors in the MCU and Iman Vellani has been one of her greatest castings to date.

The MCU fire may have dimmed a little but the flame is slowly being rekindled. One can only hope that from here on out the MCU with its new sense of direction can maintain its uptick and continue to stick the landing on all of its upcoming and future projects.

The Marvels and Assembled: The Making of The Marvels are now streaming on Disney Plus.

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