In a year that has seen Marvel Studios hit just as many lows (Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Secret Invasion) as highs (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and season 2 of Loki), The Marvels are here to try and save the day. With great power comes great responsibility, and for the most part, director Nia DaCosta has made a film that delivers exactly what it promises. Acting as a sequel to Captain Marvel, WandaVision, and Ms. Marvel, it’s amazing The Marvels works at all. But boy does it ever when Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) are assembled for action.
Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) has managed to find one half of the Quantum Bands — the second belonging to Kamala — and sets forth to exact revenge upon Carol after destroying the Supreme Intelligence, rendering the Kree home of Hala barren without air, water, or sun. On board the S.A.B.E.R. (Strategic Aerospace Biophysics and Exolinguistic Response), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) attempts to host peace talks between the Kree and the Skrulls. Meanwhile, Monica discovers a jump point anomaly which winds up entangling her powers with both Captain Marvel’s and Kamala’s. Now, whenever the three use their powers, they switch places, forcing them to figure out they must team together in order to stop Dar-Benn’s mission of destroying other planets by using the jump points to filter atmospheric resources to replenish their own.
You want action? Check. You want comedy? Check. You want girl power that won’t make the woke police cringe with envy? Check. DaCosta fires on all cylinders from the start, allowing the plot to move at a far more erratic pace than we’re used to. Hellbent on keeping the film under two hours, she found a spectacular sweet spot for giving audiences what they want without an exhaustive runtime. The cast are clearly having a great time as their characters continuously switch places — usually in the middle of/throughout fight sequences — never knowing who’s going to wind up where.
Anyone who didn’t like Larson’s introductory portrayal can simmer down, the character has gone through some stuff since we first met her back in the MCU’s ’90s, and Larson finally gets to give Danvers the warmth and hilarity she’s promised since 21 Jump Street. Parris continues to give the fantastic performance she brought in WandaVision, and Vellani is still just pure joy any time she’s on screen, while also holding her own during the big set pieces. As per usual, the biggest misstep is Dar-Benn, who provides another lackluster and forgettable MCU villain. But it was nice to return to personal vendettas for a change.
The Marvels never tries to reinvent the wheel — there’s enough of that soon to come from Marvel Studios as a whole — and there’s nothing wrong with that. What it does do, is offer a fantastic trip to the movies with characters we love, trying to keep themselves, and the universe, together. Just make sure to avoid spoilers as the last scene, and mid-credit scene, are huge. There is no end credit scene, making this even shorter! The Marvels may not be the best film in the MCU — and largely feels like a throwback to the early days — but it’s still a great bridge film that connects the past, while leading into a marvelous future.