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'The Marvels' A Brilliant Shtick With Flawed Execution



Going into The Marvels (2023), I was looking forward to the cross over possibilities with characters Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Toyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani). Each have garnered a unique appeal in their respective movies and TV series. Unfortunately, it was a chaotic disappointment, tied for the worst MCU film with Eternals (2021).


The plot continues the story of Carol Danvers a.k.a. Captain Marvel whose powers become intwined with her admirer Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, and Carol's niece, S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, they must confront the evil Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) who wants to tear open a hole in space time, to usurp Earth's sun, and restore her home planet Hala.


Central to the film’s problems is its hallowed screenplay from director Nia DaCosta and co-writers Megan McDonnell (“WandaVision”) and Elissa Karasik (“Loki”). It is lacking in charm, cohesion, and character. The dry dialogue provides little room for emotional expression or interpretation, leaving the film’s skilled cast of rising stars and veteran actresses with little to work with. Moments of tedious exposition are long winded and difficult to follow, particularly for those are not up to date with the latest MCU movies and/or series. Despite the inclusion of beloved characters like Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thomspon) their placement is uninspired, reduced to mere plot devices. Perhaps worst of all are the running jokes: Kamala Khan’s fan girlish obsession with Captain Marvel is extremely unpleasant and those ridiculous alien cats who shoot tentacles out of their mouths are just strange (who thought that was the least bit appealing?)


It is truly a shame because the film’s central plot thread involving the jump point anomaly is brilliant but lacking in execution. What makes this journey unique from others in the MCU is its shtick: the 3 heroines switch places, through teleportation, when any of the three use their powers simultaneously. While perhaps scientifically implausible, it works as a formidable obstacle that forces the trio to work together. Through each action scene there is a progression, at first, they have difficulty switching places but with practice it works to their advantage. The inclusion of this unique gimmick was the best aspect of the movie. However, it only provides intrigue on the surface because, outside of fight scenes, the characters show no chemistry whatsoever.


The Marvels opened to an estimated $47 million at the domestic box office, far short of its predecessor Captain Marvel (2019) which earned over $1 billion worldwide. Recent MCU films like Eternals (2021), Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantomania (2023) have shown a consistent decline in the quality and profitability of MCU films. The genre fatigue could not be more apparent, and I believe the MCU needs to reboot or take a bold new direction to retain its audience.

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