The Marvels

I haven’t done a movie review in ages, but… what is wrong with you people? Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you? The Marvels is a perfectly regular piece of superhero fiction: it’s a light-hearted story with cosmic fights, a villain that could have been better, good sidekicks and a good dose of both […]

I haven’t done a movie review in ages, but… what is wrong with you people? Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?
The Marvels is a perfectly regular piece of superhero fiction: it’s a light-hearted story with cosmic fights, a villain that could have been better, good sidekicks and a good dose of both humour and drama.
If you google it, though, the first five results are backlashes: MovieWeb, both GameRant and ScreenRant, CBR all doubled-down on the fact that the movie is a mess, and that director Nia DaCosta is either incompetent or was absent during production. They’re all one stone’s throw from suggesting she couldn’t work on the movie because she had to buy groceries and go breastfeeding random children.

Some of my usual movie companions didn’t come to see The Marvels because they heard the movie wasn’t good from these and other “reliable” websites.

Now, let me give you an intriguing piece of information if you will: MovieWeb is owned by a company called Valnet Inc. GameRant and ScreenRant are both owned by a company called Valnet Inc. CBR, an acronym that stands for Comic Book Resources, is owned by… yes, you guessed: a company called Valnet Inc.

So maybe it’s time you start thinking for yourselves.

In the best-case scenario, you are paying heed to content published by a company that has often been criticised for having no quality check and for pursuing click baits.
In the worst-case scenario, you are all listening to one person.

You might as well listen to me.

The Characters

The titular trio is made up of Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel in the movies, Ms Marvel in the comics, which always causes me to mess up when I talk with friends), Monica Rambeau (no superhero nickname) and young Kamala Khan (who takes up the nickname Ms Marvel in honour of her idol). The first concern nowadays always is: how many other movies and tv series do I need to see in order to enjoy this one? Very little, in my opinion.

  • the first Captain Marvel movie is enjoyable but it’s not necessary. All you need to know is that Carol lives in space, has powers and once fell into “a disagreement” with the super artificial intelligence governing the alien race of the Kree: the movie provides enough framing for that;
  • no Avengers movie is necessary: all you need to know is that there’s a guy called Nick Fury, he’s a director of some governative agency, and he’s a cool guy. The movie provides enough framing for that;
  • no tv series is necessary, not even Ms Marvel, and I know this for a fact because I didn’t see it: all you need to know is that she has a magic bracelet, and the movie provides enough framing for that.

I knew and loved Carol from the previous movies, and she doesn’t disappoint, though she occasionally offers a softer and more human side than she did in her titular movie. I didn’t care much for Monica, probably because Wanda Vision hasn’t been my piece of cake, but she’s a tough, relatable, rounded character with depth and nuances. The biggest surprise has been Kamala, because I usually dislike teen characters (and that’s why I didn’t see her series): the character isn’t banal, she’s a well-written teen without the usual stupidity writers inject into a teen, and the actress is outstanding! She’s good enough I might actually go back and watch her series.

Now for the weak part and, as it often happens, it’s the villain. Do you remember Lee Pace in the first Guardians of the Galaxy? No? Well, that’s normal. He was playing one of my favourite characters in the comics, Ronan the Accuser, a guy who showed unexpected depths. In the comics.

In the movie, he was just a guy who had issues with people. Which issues? Which people? We’re told in passing, but we actually don’t know. Something about a war that has been dragging on for centuries.

Unfortunately, Zawe Ashton‘s Dar-Benn has the same problem: she’s also an accuser, or at least she has the hammer for it, and she has issues with people for reasons we know, we see in passing but fail to create any emotional attachment. And it’s not the actress’ fault: Ashton is intense, her look is on point (dental work aside), and her gear looks natural. The movie could have used twenty minutes more of suffering Kree, possibly at the beginning, to ground this idea that maybe Dar-Benn is right and Carol really is at fault when she rushed into a civilization and destroyed a piece of it without anybody’s consent.

Ooopsie-daisies! Spoiler alert.

Also, if you’re curious, Dar-Benn was a Kree general in the comics too, but he was a dude. He created a robot of the Silver Surfer and he was killed by Deathbird during the Kree-Shi’ar war. Who are the Shi’ar, do you ask? They’re birds and Charles Xavier has a kink for them, so let’s hope Marvel Studios never remember their existence.

These are the Shi’ar. Hope they stay in the comics.

The other supporting characters all put in an honest day’s work: Nick Fury is a dispenser of laser shots and good advice (especially: “Okay, no more touching shit. Especially glowing, mysterious shit”), Kamala’s family is solid and funny but never to the point of becoming grotesque, Valkyrie makes her glorious cameo and… there’s no one else. It’s a tightly packed movie, no drooling of extra characters just for flavour, which should increase its chances of being liked by people who don’t want to study for hours before going to the movies.

The Plot Tricks

Be careful, spoilers ahead.

The main plot trick employed is one: the activation of Kamala’s second bracelet, found in space by Dar-Benn and her minions, causes a random entanglement in the trio’s powers and they switch places each time they use them. Also, Dar-Benn is using her bracelet to rip new a-holes to the space continuum and funnel resources into the atmosphere of her dying planet.

Only one of these two is really a theme (and not really explored in depth): even though the switching places could have led to an exploration of what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes (a supposedly indestructible cosmic hero, a black woman, a Muslim teenager), the movie chooses not to pursue this road and opts for a lighthearted approach.
The ecological subplot is also not really a subplot: the Kree have destroyed themselves with war, but the movie doesn’t try to push any deeper message.

Which brings me to my main objection.

How is this movie “woke”?

There are literally no social themes in this movie. None. Nothing. Zilch.
It’s a regular superhero movie, not better nor worse than Ragnarok or Spider-Man, you could take the characters and replace them with dudes and it wouldn’t change much.


So, honestly, what are y’all whining about? Take a good, hard look in the mirror and recognise that you’re complaining because there are women in your superhero movie.
My superhero movies have been filled with dudes for ages: I think it’s time we take turns.


One of the other controversies has been that there seems to be something off with the montage, and I have to agree here. In particular, there’s a fighting sequence in which Kamala is sporting her superhero suit: next thing you know, she’s falling from the sky in her civilian clothes. Something went awry in post-production, for sure.

Is it reason enough to trash an enjoyable movie? Honestly, we all know it isn’t.

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