The Marvels Movie Review
The Marvels Movie Review Metadata
My first attempt at this review was full of venting and misplaced aggression and then I lost the draft, so we’ll take that as a sign. The Marvels (2023) marks the third movie of Phase 5, and the 33rd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It brings together Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and the newest and likely youngest superhero of the MCU, Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn (Iman Vellani) to fight Kree leader, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). You do not need to see the previous MCU movie Captain Marvel (2019) or the Marvel Studios series WandaVision (2020, Disney+) and Ms. Marvel (2022, Disney +), though Disney would probably rather I didn’t say that.
Dar-Benn finds herself in possession of a Quantum band, a set of bangles used to create the Kree jump-points or wormholes throughout the universe. She only needs one to accomplish her desires but wouldn’t mind having the other one. Ms. Marvel in New Jersey has the other one, a family heirloom, and has no intention of giving it up. In a series of coincidences that could only happen in a Marvel movie, Carol, Monica, and Kamala become trapped in a quantum entanglement, meaning every time they use their powers simultaneously they physically switch places, whether in the same room or across the universe. The three Marvels need to overcome shame, guilt, and imposter syndrome to learn to work together to save the universe and possibly undo some generational trauma.
The Marvels has a lot of emotional baggage that has nothing to do with sexual posturing, frigid girlfriends, families, or family honor, which is refreshing. There is the corruption of absolute power leading to revenge-style choices, quantum engagements leading to some very clever and energetic fight scenes, and actual honest-to-gosh character development. You can fully understand the dismissive tone of the (mostly) male critics, right? I mean, who writes a movie with characters, heart, and family reunions?
Three women, Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik, the women who gave us Candyman (2021), WandaVision (2021, and Loki (2021) did, but who cares about that? Chicks can’t write superhero movies, right?
This means it has no value to a certain subset of the Marvel Fandom who will declare the MCU over, and then begrudgingly watch it because FOMO.
The Marvels isn’t for them, and I wouldn’t let their poor judgment cloud your desire to see this film. The Marvels is sweet and endearing in a way that takes girl power seriously, without compromising character development or action.
Every major decision in The Marvels is made by a woman. Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is just along for the ride and S.A.B.E.R. analyst Dag (Abraham Popoola) pops in to give pertinent information when asked, but for the most part, XY takes a back seat. Even Goose, the orange mackerel tabby cat-looking Flerken, makes her presence known, providing a surprising amount of comic relief as well as an escape plan. Anyone who complains about Flerkens is someone you do not desire to have dealings with.
The Marvels is wonderfully shorter than most drawn-out explosion fests at only 105 minutes. It’s an action movie for folks who don’t need their eardrums blown out for two-and-a half hours, while people bleed, get blown up, or die for the sake of plot development. There is good-hearted humor that doesn’t punch down, and silliness sprinkled throughout that’s not as heavy-handed as Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) or any of the Guardians of the Galaxy (2014, 2017, 2023). What’s super important, is that there’s that sense of family and belonging that comes from learning to work together, not barking orders or going rogue.
You know, girl stuff.
The overall arc will feel familiar because it is after all a MCU movie, but that’s why people flock to see them – we know what we’re getting into and we’re along for the ride.
I’m not sure why people are expecting cinematic excellence from a superhero movie, and comparing a movie to previous installments feels disingenuous. We are 33 movies and 22 television series into this ride, and some are complaining that it doesn’t feel fresh anymore.
I found The Marvels deeply entertaining and appreciate the work the MCU is putting in to remind all fans that Marvel are more than the Avengers, more than Iron Man or the Hulk and that there are powerful women saving their own parts of the universe, with all of the diversity that brings.
The Marvels (2023) is Rated PG-13 for people getting punched a lot, extinction-level catastrophes, flerkens and their never-ending appetites, and a planet that communicates solely by singing.