Generally, when I go to watch a Marvel movie, I go for the veteran characters. Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man and the like. Which makes it so unusual that the reason I went to watch The Marvels wasn’t Captain Marvel, nor was it the incomparable Monica Rambeau. No, it was all about Kamala Khan, at least for this fan. And while I went for the delightful acting of Iman Vellani, I’m glad I stayed. Because The Marvels was not only full of heart, but it has some amazing fight sequences and great character interactions.
To the surprise of nobody, the reason that the three main characters get entangled is because of the actions of the villain, the Supremor Dar-Benn. This twisted zealot is like Ronan the Accuser on steroids, and determined to make Hala whole and livable again. A noble enough endeavor in theory, except that she plans to do so by stealing resources from other planets. Worse, she has the means to do so. First thing in the movie, she finds the twin bangle to Kamala’s, and uses it to devastating effect, opening a rift in spacetime.
Believe it or not, that’s not much of a spoiler, at least if you have seen any of the trailers. That said, I will do my best as always to avoid the biggest ones. Though in fairness, there are not many big surprises in the movie, outside of the mind blowing mid-credits scene that every fan of the MCU should already know to sit and watch for. That aside, let’s talk about what makes The Marvels so much fun.
Like many other Marvel movies, this is a rollercoaster. It starts fast, and though it occasionally slows down, it’s never for long. Usually it does so to give us a training montage or flashback for context. I admit I forgot how Monica is connected to Carol, so I really appreciated some of those flashbacks. In many ways, this is a movie you can only truly appreciate if you’ve seen a ton of series on Disney+. Specifically, Ms. Marvel, WandaVision and, to a lesser degree Secret Invasion, on top of the Captain Marvel movie. That’s a lot of viewing, almost making The Marvels feel like a mini Avengers team up of sorts.
One thing I liked about the movie is how each of the main characters has a purpose on the team. Carol is the brute force, Monica is the brain, and Kamala is the beating heart that draws them all together. She’s also hilarious, regularly fangirling, yelling “Twinsies!” and reminiscing “Oh captain, my captain” as she stares wistfully at her favorite blonde bombshell (while an exhausted Monica simply rolls her eyes).
Each of them also gets their own amazing comedic moments, such as Carol’s look of pure panic as she crash lands in the Khan household, and tries to walk covertly outside with mixed results. Or Monica’s patience with Kamala as she keeps trying to workshop a nickname for the former Lieutenant Trouble. Hell, even Nick Fury gets in on the fun, yelling at Monica to use “Black Girl Magic” to finally fly and save an endangered plummeting Kamala.
As if that wasn’t enough, Kamala’s family is also very present in the movie, with her mother stealing the camera more than once, and providing some amazingly uncomfortable laughs. Her dad and brother also get dragged into space by a series of events, and let’s just say Dad doesn’t like Nick Fury’s space elevator. Also, as a fan of all things feline, I’m very happy that Goose gets lots of cameos in The Marvels! Not only does the space kitty terrify Kamala, but she manages to save the day during a very tense sequence on the S.A.B.E.R. station. I won’t spoil it, but it’s amazing and easily one of my favorite scenes outside of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
Also, did I mention the fight scenes? Not only are they well choreographed, but many of them take place in multiple locations simultaneously, taking good advantage of the swapping mechanic afflicting the three ladies. The first big fight nearly destroys the Khan house, and they don’t get much calmer from there. Once the big bad realizes Kamala has what she most desires, they get even more intense.
The smartest thing about The Marvels is how Carol is forced to work with a team. By herself, Captain Marvel is a cosmic hero, capable of almost anything. So it’s hard to make a villain to counter that sort of power. But here, she’s constantly foiled by the entangling. Worse (for her, at least), Dar-Benn’s bangle can absorb light energy, which she uses to great effect to thwart Carol’s best attempts to defeat her. Not to mention, she swings a pretty mean hammer.
As to why Dar-Benn is so pissed off, let’s just say the movie is all about unintended consequences, and there’s definitely some collateral damage. Dar-Benn’s first atrocity forces our team to save as many Skrull refugees as possible from a dying planet, and Kamala definitely takes it hard when they can’t save everyone. Not to mention, Carol has some dark history she’s afraid to face, but which eventually is forced into the light of day.
Though the movie’s not perfect, and definitely can strain credulity as far as how the powers involved work, I still rather enjoyed The Marvels. Kamala and company make a surprisingly effective team, and the aftermath of the movie sets up some fun possibilities. Don’t buy the negative talk about the decline of the MCU. This movie shows there’s lots of potential in the stories yet to be told.