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  • Writer's pictureAashish P

How The Marvels actually saved the MCU - The Marvels Movie Review

After the spectacular events of Avengers: Endgame and the Infinity Saga, the Marvel Cinematic Universe decided to embark on the road to its Multiverse Saga, but the journey hasn't been a completely smooth sailing. Lately MCU has been plagued by quite a few [what I like to refer as] disappointing content. Financially, Marvel Studios has been going quite strong, the only film which struggled a lot at the box office is The Marvels. Despite the bad word-of-mouth for films like Black Widow, Doctor Strange in the Mulitverse of Madness, and Thor: Love and Thunder, people are still flocking to the cinemas to watch these movies, but such content, in addition to shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, She-Hulk, and Secret Invasion, are only making the audience weary and inducing the superhero fatigue in them.


But still, from time to time, when people begin to doubt MCU more, it comes back and proves that it still has the vision (unlike Wanda) and is here to stay. And the latest film in its catalogue, The Marvels is the best example of this.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time watching The Marvels. I will admit that I wasn't particularly excited to watch this film, as I have learned to keep my expectations low to avoid the potential disappointment which might come after, but I'm so glad to say that this film pleasingly surprised me. It wasn't made to be something extraordinary or to convey some deep message, the main focus of the makers was to entertain their audience and to serve a story to the character of Captain Marvel, and this film succeeds in doing that.


The cast & characters of The Marvels: Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau standing side by side - MCU heroes, Superhero Trio
The trio in The Marvels (from left to right): Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau

I mean, the humour in certain scenes really worked and managed to make me laugh, while some scene quite emotionally resonated with me. The choreography on the action sequences was so thoughtfully organized which made the fight scenes both innovative and a treat to watch. I'd go as far as to say that The Marvels might have just saved the film side of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). After certain recent releases, people were quite beginning to get disinterested in this superhero universe, but this movie has the capability to rekindle the enthusiasm of the fan base.


So, in this article I'll try to write some points about the reason why I think The Marvels doesn't deserve the unnecessary hate, and is instead a vital part of the MCU going forward. But first, let’s get the negative things of this movie out of the bag, and discuss it.


FLAWS OF THE MARVELS


The Marvels took me back to the early era of the MCU, really felt like the movies of Phase 1 & 2, so much so that it even had a forgettable antagonist. The villain, Dar-Benn, left much to be desired, as her character felt so one dimensional and lacked the depth that could have added to the overall narrative. She definitely could have benefited from a bit more development and screen time. It appeared as though she just had one task - to collect the bangles and cause destruction in other planet in order to save her own. Towards the climax, Carol even attempted to call a truce and make a peace offering, which could have been a great scene to show the emphatic nature of her character, had Dar-Benn accepted it, but just like a cliché villain she decided to backstab Carol.


The Marvels Villain Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) with her Army. The Marvels Antagonist, female villain of MCU, Kree Leader
The Antagonist of The Marvels - Dar-Benn with her Army

The writers did try to provide this character a backstory to rationalize her motivation, but that didn't seem to work much in her favour. I'll agree that she had a reasonable motive behind her actions, but just like every other antagonist she chose a morally wrong way to fulfil her purpose. Dar-Benn witnessed Carol kill the Supreme Intelligence many years ago which had terrible impact on the lives of Krees, and with the help of those bangles she wanted to restore the living conditions on her planet by providing (more like stealing from other planets) it with the basic necessities like water and air, and by harnessing the energy of the bangles to re-ignite their dying sun, Hala.


She was working for the betterment of her own people, but upon doing so, she was also impacting the lives of other people in the universe. It was a selfish motive which could have been focused more in the film. Every antagonist has an ulterior selfish motive, even a big bad like Thanos had that, and still the writers tried their best in showing his vulnerability and soft spot, and that always takes your villain up a notch. But here Dar-Benn was shown so blind-sided that she is willing to endanger billions of other living beings just to save her own people. You'll find such characters laced around throughout the film history, who are evil just for the sake of being evil and that never leads to a compelling character.


HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MARVELS


The complain I had with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder was the plot of those movies. It had such huge potential but just wasn't focused enough. However, that wasn't the case with The Marvels - the plot was well-written and blended quite well with the themes and pace of the movie. It also laid the groundwork to set up certain future events in the MCU, and in the process rekindled our excitement.

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Ever since the release of Captain Marvel (2019), there has been constant arguments about the strongest superhero in the MCU. But, no matter how strong your superhero is, there will always be vulnerability inside them which at some point has to be explored. And The Marvels does a commendable job doing the same with the character of Captain Marvel and in a way humanizes her. In the film, we saw that the entire fiasco, the civil war between Kree and Skrull started due to a wrong decision by Carol Danvers herself. She killed the Supreme Intelligence and that mere thing lead to the suffering of numerous Kree people, and the plot handled this with remarkable finesse.


Carol comes to the realization of her mistake, and over the years, she tries to grapple with it, which is why she couldn't bring herself to return to the Earth and meet Monica. There’s a scene in the movie where the trio is using a linking technology to see into each other’s memories to track Dar-Benn from a map that Kamala had seen, and in that moment, Carol starts to think about the time after blip when she talked to Maria on her death bed which just fills her with guild and regret. And that is how people you answer a left over plot point and show the vulnerability of your character, and in the process actually develop them.


This was more like a team-up film, and it assembled the 'Marvels’, comprising Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau (also known as Photon/Spectrum for comic enthusiasts). But the real challenge you face as a writer while writing such a film is creating a tone-appropriate introduction of these characters, and then finding a convincing way for them to meet each other for the first time, especially when they possess unique abilities that can manipulate energy and space. And the writers did a commendable job with this by seamlessly establishing the trio's encounters by making them switch places whenever they utilized their respective powers. Then they also used this sheer concept to further build and solidify the plot around it.


This switching-places concept was not only used to make the trio interact with each other but also to showcase some innovative and thrilling action sequences. The fight scenes were yet another highlight of this film. It obviously wasn't at the level of Daredevil's action sequences (which had arguably one of the best choreographed fight scenes in the superhero genre), but still was entertaining to watch. The three ladies have quite different powers, and to utilize them correctly while subsequently making them switch places must have been a nightmare to choreograph, but all the people involved managed to struck the landing, and portrayed it quite well on the big screen.


What I appreciate most about the writing of this movie is that it managed to tie up all the loose ends and subplots that led up to it. The film provided satisfying conclusions to the second bangle mystery from Ms. Marvel, the reason for Carol's absence from Earth, and also handled Monica and Carol's complex relationship quite well. Plus, the story arc of Carol that began in the first movie was also brought to a close. But the cherries on the cake certainly were the subtle tease towards the Young Avengers team and the introduction of the X-Men universe.


Brie Larson's Carol Danvers & Park Seo-joon's Prince Yan in the musical planet of Aladna, funny sequence in the Marvels
Brie Larson's Carol Danvers & Park Seo-joon's Prince Yan in the planet Aladna

One aspect of superhero films that I particularly enjoy is when the characters explore different and unfamiliar environments, as it can be a very good vessel to showcase and develop the character's dynamic, and also often leads to entertaining and engaging situations. This film makes excellent use of this trope and takes us to the musical planet of Aladna, where we see Brie Larson's Carol Danvers showcase her singing and dancing skills, and this right here is a definite highlight. This was something straight out of some Captain Marvel fanfiction, just like Monica implied to Kamala, and I still remember my entire theatre just bursting out with laughs on this scene.


Moreover, the one positive and entertaining aspect of the Ms. Marvel show was the portrayal of Kamala's family, and The Marvels carefully incorporates her family and their comedic dynamics with the story, and all the family members get their own time to shine in certain scenes. I do wish Valkyrie's cameo had been more developed, and her relationship with Carol could have certainly used more focus. However, the scene still serves its purpose, and according to a few people, certain aspects of her cameo were cut, which might explain its brevity.

 

FINAL VERDICT & THOUGHTS ON THE MARVELS


The Marvels isn't a perfect film by any chance, but it also isn't as bad as some people are claiming it to be. It proved to be a pleasant surprise in a time where we are just getting bombarded with certain lackluster superhero content. This is a kind of film which isn't getting as much traction right now, but will certainly play a significant role in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).


The film handles its characters & their relationship with each other quite well, the dynamics between the trio was a treat to watch, but somehow upon doing that it neglected the focus on its antagonist, giving us yet another basic villain. While remembering scenes from this movie, I can't even think of a single sequence where Dar-Benn really stood out or left an impression on my mind.


The plot of the film manages to glue every sequence together and the shorter runtime actually complements it. However, certain scenes do become a bit messy as it attempts to juggle multiple elements at once. But still kudos to the writers (Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik) for maintaining an engaging storyline which stays true to the overall narrative.


In the end & mid-credit scene, it also sets up the Young Avenger team and establishes a parallel X-Men universe which I guess will be more explored in the upcoming Deadpool movie. These few seconds of clips were more than enough to bring back the MCU nerd inside me and get it excited all again. And combine these with the finale of Loki Season 2, and you leave me absolutely thrilled for the future of MCU. Thank you for reading this article, and I hope you keep having an entertaining time.

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