The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been taking quite a beating lately. Recent news have reportedly claimed that Marvel Studios is ‘in crisis’, with box office numbers down and controversies swirling around some of its future slate of films.
So it does seem apt that the MCU’s latest film is titled The Marvels, as if to remind us that the company may have more than just one Marvel up its sleeves. Happily, it is also one of its most fun (and funny) movies of late.
The film essentially brings together three characters whose comic book past (and present) has seen them having the word ‘Marvel’ in their names.
Firstly, of course, is Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) a.k.a Captain Marvel, one of the MCU's most powerful superheroes. Then, there's Monica Rambeau (Tenoyah Parris), who can see and manipulate all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum (she was Captain Marvel before Carol in the comics).
And last but not least, there's Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a.k.a Ms Marvel, a teenage hero with a magical bangle that can turn light into physical matter.
The movie doesn’t take long to set up the basic premise – all three heroes have light-based powers that somehow get ‘entangled’ and causes them to switch places when they use their powers at the same time.
They later find out that this glitch was caused by Kree Supremor Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) , who has activated an artefact that allows her to open ‘jump points’ in space, which she plans to use to save the dying Kree home planet of Hala.
With the help of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson in one of his funnier outings as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D, sorry, S.A.B.E.R), and with Kamala’s reluctant mother, father and brother (Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh) in tow, the three heroes have to learn how to work together to stop Dar-Benn from destroying other planets in order to save her own.
Despite there being three ‘Marvels’ here, it is actually the youngest one, Ms Marvel, who really stands out here.
Although she only made her debut in the Disney+ series Ms Marvel last year, Vellani takes to the big screen like a duck to water, seamlessly injecting Kamala’s youthful exuberance into the proceedings and acting as the perfect foil to Larson's aloof, moody, and sometimes downright unlikable Carol.
Vellani is a joy to watch in every scene she is in, whether she is fangirling over being ‘twinsies’ with Captain Marvel, workshopping names for Monica, or kicking Kree butt in her own very special way. (Special mention also goes to her family members, who keep the story very emotionally grounded despite the sparkly space shenanigans). If you need a reason to go watch The Marvels, Ms Marvel is it.
Monica is another character who makes a seamless transition from small screen (WandaVision, to be exact), and though she gets somewhat overshadowed by her co-stars sometimes, we will probably see a lot more of her in the MCU, if her comic book history is anything to go by.
After the overblown multiversal madness of Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania and the emotional farewell of Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3, it’s nice to see the MCU go back to a more lighthearted, lower stakes movie that focuses on just one thing – delivering fun, action-packed superhero entertainment without being weighed down by the burden of building a cinematic universe (until the very end, at least).
To tell the truth, The Marvels suffers from a lot of the flaws that past MCU films do (under-developed villain; bare bones plot held together by a convenient Macguffin...), and some scenes ARE particularly silly or unnecessary (including one musical jaunt to the planet Aladna – ruled by Park Seo-joon’s Prince Yan). But you’ll be having way too much fun to notice, plus at just over 100 minutes (making it one of the MCU's shortest films so far), it'll be over before you know it.
Sure, The Marvels probably won’t be remembered as one of the MCU’s best movies, but in terms of getting the franchise back on track and making superheroes fun again, it gets the job done.
Still, if THAT post-credit scene is any indication, we might be seeing some big changes in the franchise once again. As such, don’t count out the MCU just yet, as the rumours of its demise may have been greatly exaggerated.
The most fun you'll have at a superhero movie this year.