The Marvels review: Team “girl power” works

Jasmine Valentine
Kamala, Carol, and Monica on The Marvels poster.Disney/Marvel

Movie lovers don’t ever have to have seen a single Marvel film to know that the famed studios is at crisis point. As each day passes, a thousand new angry or nitpicky fan tweets surface. Enter The Marvels – the actual superhero in an hour of need.

Straight off the bat, The Marvels isn’t going to be to every MCU fan’s taste. From its opening moments, it bounds into play with a rejuvenated sense of energy, running away with itself like a superfan who’s won the ultimate contest. That feeling manifests itself through the film’s narrative thanks to Kamala Khan – a.k.a Ms. Marvel, a.k.a Iman Vellani – finally meeting the idol she has cardboard cutouts of in her bedroom.

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It’s this idea, of old meeting new, that surely propels Marvel back into a stratosphere that actually aligns with what its fans want. No MCU film is perfect, and neither is The Marvels, but it certainly brings the idea of hope back to the horizon. Finally, the never-ending multiverse of superhero action has legs again – and this time, there’s a brand-new generation of heroes at the helm.

Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers, Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau, and Vellani’s Kamala Khan are the trio that should never work, yet instantly ooze chemistry. Where Danvers has become accustomed to being an outsider, her two unsuspecting sidekicks give an entirely new meaning to what she is capable of. It’s trite and corny, yes – but isn’t that what we love about the magic of Marvel?

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The gang’s all together…

In The Marvels, teamwork truly makes the dream work. After a warped jump point means that the trio switch places while using their powers, Captain Marvel, Captain Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel are brought together by a forceful twist of fate. Figuring out that Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) plans to right the wrongs of the Klee, it’s up to the reluctant new team – with the exception of an over-excited Kamala – to save the day.

If nothing else works for fans in The Marvels, they are guaranteed to have an absolute blast while watching it. With a pithy runtime under the two-hour mark, the movie wastes no time delving into the comedy, humor, and light-heartedness that the female leads can easily tap into. It provides a “girl power” team that totally works but doesn’t rest on the laurels of stereotyping. Each of the three has something to prove and resolves their journey with just enough personal work to leave the questions that only a Marvel film can.

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The standout performance of The Marvels rightly falls at the feet of Iman Vellani. It’s easy to tell that both Kamala and Vellani adore the world of Marvel, and constantly reach for everything it has to offer. Her infectious yet effortless charm is what the bones of the movie hinge on, which is superbly backed up by the mother of all mothers in Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff). That’s not to say that Larson and Parris don’t pull their weight – each does with aplomb – but Kamala’s blossoming potential will keep the MCU’s wheels spinning for years to come.

… And mostly, the landing sticks

Teyonah Parris, Brie Larson, and Iman Vellani for The MarvelsMarvel

In some aspects, The Marvels is a bit like pre-wedding planning – something old, something new, something borrowed, and something surprisingly blue. Bringing in factors from other Marvel TV shows and films in such an obvious way should be to its detriment, but somehow everything seems to work well enough. This is largely due to the fresh set of eyes director Nia DaCosta is bringing to the franchise, straying away from the methodical narrative plans of Marvel films gone by. The MCU can now bend its own rules a little by sticking to lore but not taking itself too seriously.

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This doesn’t mean that The Marvels isn’t without its weaknesses. Like any human superhero, defects are going to be there whether we like it or not. A noticeable amount of narrative threads in the movie are clumsy, losing clarity and clear explanation as the film is shrouded in excited energy. Its CGI doesn’t always look top-notch, taking the eye out of believing it’s a real-life possibility and back to the confines of a cinema screen. All in all, this isn’t an example of mind-blowing film. But does it need to be?

The answer, for now, is no. Marvel is in the process of needing to nurture itself back to full glory, and The Marvels is just the kind of tonic to act as an inviting band-aid. By proving it can be silly, goofy, and purely revel in its manufactured fun, the MCU is taking a step in the right direction. If something isn’t working, change needs to happen – and that can’t look like anything we’ve seen before.

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The Marvels review score: 4/5

Goofy, fun, and full of girl power, The Marvels is an out-and-out blast.

It’s far from perfect, and in the wider Marvel canon is possibly forgettable, but anything with alien kittens deserves its kudos.

The Marvels hits screens this week – for more on the movie head here, or click on the below articles:

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About The Author

Jasmine Valentine is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's written for the likes of Total Film, The Daily Beast, and Radio Times. Jasmine loves anime, dystopian thrillers, and anything starring Tilda Swinton. You can email her here: jasmine.waters@dexerto.com.