In Nia DaCosta’s film, Marvel must save the universe – once again. In our world, we hoped that the trio of superheroines would provide satisfying entertainment. Either way, we can say: mission accomplished.
The weight of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is beginning to weigh heavily on the works of the studios led by Kevin Feige. The complexity of the Multiverse Saga and its parallel realities, combined with the numerous TV series and multiple new characters, ended up putting off some; the investment of time and brainpower is not worth it.
The Marvels is still an integral part of this puzzle with no imminent end, but focuses enough on its characters and their current challenges to give us a good time at the cinema. The screenplay by Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik is well enough put together that it is not necessary to have watched all the previous Marvel Studios productions. That said, the 33rd feature film in the MCU is the sequel to three works: the film Captain Marvel (2019) and the series WandaVision (2021) and Ms. Marvel (2022). Let’s recap anyway.
Brie Larson reprises the role of Carol Danvers, a former United States Air Force pilot who, following contact with a cosmic cube, developed extraordinary powers. Captain Marvel is among the most powerful beings in the MCU and intervenes in conflicts throughout the galaxy. Monica Rambeau, played by Teyonah Parris, is the grown daughter of Carol’s best friend. She obtained her superhuman powers, including intangibility, following repeated contact with an energy field created by Wanda Maximoff. Canadian Iman Vellani plays Kamala Khan, a teenager from New Jersey who, before obtaining her powers, was already a big fan of the Avengers, particularly Captain Marvel. Thanks to a bracelet left to her by her grandmother, she manages to create matter from light.
In fact, they all manipulate light in their own way, and it is this common talent that unwittingly brings them together. The discovery of a bracelet identical to Kamala’s by the Kree warrior Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) has the effect of connecting the three women. So, every time they use their powers, they swap places. This gives rise to some funny scenes: Carol lands in Kamala’s room, Monica in the middle of a fight and Kamala in the immensity of space. The montage of the trio learning to coordinate to Intergalactic, by the Beastie Boys, is particularly amusing.
Two other scenes stand out in particular for their originality and their comic effect. One features Flerkens, these greedy space cats, and the other takes place on the planet Aladna, where we meet the melodious Prince Yan (Park Seo-joon). We leave you the pleasure of discovering them.
The main plot of The Marvels deals with civil war, refugees and depleted natural resources. However, none of these veins are well exploited. We spend more time explaining space-time concepts more or less proven by science than discussing human issues. Dar-Benn isn’t a memorable antagonist either. Her motivations are noble, but we don’t spend enough time with her to sympathize.
What Nia DaCosta does best is highlight the very different personalities of the three main characters. Carol remains socially inept, accustomed to life alone, while Monica is withdrawn, still hurt by her “aunt’s” abandonment. Kamala is excited to meet her heroines. Iman Vellani’s sincerity seems genuine – and probably is. The young actress bursts onto the screen with her contagious joy and naturalness. His playing is the source of beautiful moments of tenderness and camaraderie. We also love his relationship with his parents and his brother.
The director of Candyman and Little Woods offers the shortest film in the MCU thanks to a sustained pace and a good balance between action and the exposition of the facts. Despite a few drawbacks – slow start, incidental issues, underused Samuel L. Jackson – The Marvels reminds us that the main mission of Marvel films is to entertain.