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‘The Marvels’: It’s fun, and maybe that’s enough

| Friday, November 17, 2023

Maria Tobias | The Observer

Recently, I’ve found it hard to look forward to Marvel Studios’ films. That’s not to say I’ve stopped being a fan of the studio or their films, but recently it feels like every good movie they make is followed by one of lesser quality. Earlier this year, Marvel released both their worst and best films in years: “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” So where does that leave their new film, the team-up story “The Marvels”? Well, I think it’s safe to say “The Marvels” is Marvel’s funnest movie in years and that is a great thing to see.

A brief MCU debrief

Due to the fact that Marvel Studios’ products now come with a required watch list, I’ll explain some context for what you should know before watching the film. Obviously, the film’s three stars have all headlined their own projects in the past. Brie Larson starred as the title character in 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” which this film references heavily. The Disney+ show “Ms. Marvel” featured Iman Vellani as the titular hero and is similarly essential for full enjoyment of “The Marvels.” The third co-lead, Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau, played a supporting role in Disney+’s “WandaVision,” but this project is the least important to understand the new film. Everything necessary to know about her character is established within the film. 

The film advertises itself primarily as a sequel to 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” The villain is tied to the first film and the focus is on the dynamic between Larson’s Captain Danvers and Parris’ Captain Rambeau established in the first film. However, “The Marvels” is really a continuation of “Ms. Marvel” more than anything else. Most of the film’s supporting cast are returning characters from the show and Ms. Marvel’s interactions with the older heroes are a focus of the film. That all being said, the best part of the film is Samuel L. Jackson, returning to the role of Nick Fury.

After the events of the Disney+ show “Secret Invasion,” led by Jackson’s Fury, many fans questioned what would happen next. The film did not acknowledge “Secret Invasion” whatsoever, which is good news for me as I did not care to watch that show. Jackson steals the show whenever he’s on screen and the writers consistently give him the best lines that are only bolstered by his delivery. 

The merry merits of the movie “The Marvels”

Earlier I said this movie felt the most fun out of Marvel’s recent output. I view this as a good thing. It’s not Ibsen, but it does not have to be. Enjoyment of a film relies on the expectations of the audience, too. Some might feel that taking a breather and forsaking the seriousness of the genre detracts from a film’s quality. If that is how you feel, this might not be the best film for you. I am, for lack of a better word, a sucker. To paraphrase my favorite movie theater ad, that is why I go to the theater: to care. For that reason, it wasn’t difficult for me to get sucked into the movie and its fun moments. I found the film charming.

A common criticism I have seen is the characterization of Vellani’s Khan as overeager and a little annoying. I do not share that criticism, as her character directly apologizes for these things later in the film. While I do think her character’s excitement was a bit much, I also acknowledge this is what the directors and writers were going for.

My thoughts on the film fit into one word: fun. If you want a fun time at the theater, “The Marvels” is a solid choice. Just keep your expectations in check.

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