I’m going to come out and say it, and this is coming from someone who’s loved superheroes since he was little: the MCU has seen better days. Ever since Endgame, it feels like the Marvel Cinematic Universe has lost an overall sense of direction. There have been plenty of good movies and miniseries since then, but at this point, everyone’s starting to feel the fatigue. Case in point, critics seem determined to place their latest outing, The Marvels, amongst the lowest of the MCU films. But do they have a point, or is this just fatigue from Marvel overload over the last two years?
To be perfectly honest, It might be both.
A Very Confusing Premise
To understand the premise behind The Marvels, you need to have seen the original Captain Marvel film, WandaVision, and Ms. Marvel. The first one was about Carol Danvers, a human woman imbued with cosmic powers of one of the Infinity Stones, only to lose her memories and be kidnapped to serve as a weapon by the alien Kree. WandaVision was about Wanda’s attempts to live a perfect life by holding an entire town hostage, but it also saw Monica Rambeau, Carol’s adopted niece, gain light-based powers of her own. Lastly, Ms. Marvel (which I didn’t watch) is about Kamala Khan, a young girl from Jersey City who gains her own light-based powers.
If you’re lost, it’s not just you. The film does little to explain it, expecting people to have seen or read about all this stuff beforehand.
At any rate, the film’s plot gets kickstarted when a Kree woman uncovers an ancient bangle able to rip open holes in space-time as part of this insane plan to restore the dying Kree homeworld. When she uses the bangle, though, a mishap causes Kamala, Carol, and Monica’s powers to sync. As a result, whenever they use too much of their powers, they switch places. Now, the three have to work together to stop the Kree plans before they tear apart the universe.
Again, if you’re lost, you’re not the only one. This film’s got a number of plot holes that it shouldn’t.
Plot Holes and Unecessary Scenes Abound
The biggest plot hole regarding this film is the state of the Kree in this movie. When first introduced back in Guardians of the Galaxy, they were an interstellar superpower that just ended a war with the equally powerful Xandar and the Nova Corps. Now, thanks to Captain Marvel killing their AI leader, they plunged into a civil war that almost destroyed their homeworld? Forgive me, but them fighting a war against an external power while also fighting a civil war sounds highly implausible.
Secondly, why would Dar-Benn (the antagonist) think that using these Cosmic Bands (the bangles) to open holes in space-time would be a good way to steal the resources the Kree needed? Why not just steal them the old-fashioned way, even if it was slower? It makes the conflict seem pointless.
Besides the plot holes, there were a few aspects of the film that were, frankly, unecessary. At one point, the Marvels travel to a world populated by people who can only communicate by singing. Carol even gets this brief musical number with the world’s prince, which seems out of place for a superhero film. It felt less like Marvel and more like Disney trying to shoehorn in its penchant for musical films.
In addition to all of this, the whole film is very light-hearted despite its premise. A little too light-hearted at times, with even Nick Fury getting in on things.
Those are all the negative aspects of The Marvels. Fortunately, there are parts of it that mean the entire film isn’t a disaster.
The Marvels do Have Genuine Chemistry
Once they get the chance to sit down and speak to each other, Carol, Monica, and Kamala do have some genuinely good chemistry going on. Having looked up Carol her whole life, Monica starts off a little bitter over the fact that she hasn’t seen her since childhood. Conversely, Carol avoided seeing her because she’s ashamed how her actions trying to free the Kree backfired on them. They both have baggage to work over, especially regarding Maria Rambeau’s passing, but once they do, it’s nice to see them work together.
Then we have Kamala Khan, easily the best part of the entire film. Not only is she still new to the whole ‘hero’ thing, but she’s also a massive fangirl of the Avengers and Captain Marvel. In other words, she’s like Deku from My Hero Academia: a massive fan of superheroes who now has the chance to be a hero herself. Getting to see her develop from worshipping the ground Carol walks on to understanding that she’s a real person who’s made mistakes is a satisfying process to enjoy. In addition, she’s got this infectious energy about her that seems to bring out the best in Carol and Monica, and they grow to respect her for what she can do.
Also, if you’ve been paying attention to my MCU reviews over the last few years, then you’ll know I’ve been trumpeting the coming of the Young Avengers. Spoiler alert, but the ending to this film all but confirms it, as well as setting us up for a potential sequel with another superhero team.
Not the Worst MCU Film Ever
As a whole, no, The Marvels isn’t a good movie; at least not in comparison to the all-time classics the MCU has given us. As a standalone superhero film, though, it’s decent. It gives us some good laughs, the main characters work well together, and the fighting’s interesting given the switching spots concept. However, it also gets dragged down by having to have seen three other works prior to this. That, and the plot holes. One of which involves the Skrulls and the new choice of home that they have to make at the end.
It’s not the worst MCU film, by far. Eternals is probably still in that spot.