Concern trolling Marvel Studios has become a cottage industry as of late, thanks primarily to the creative and relative financial shortcomings of both their movies and television shows over the past couple of years.
A fair amount of that concern has been warranted as superhero fatigue has started to set in with audiences, as studios give comic book fans more and more and more of what they want; favoring quantity on corporate earnings reports over quality, creatively-entertaining products.
Meeting at this nexus is “The Marvels,” a movie that is both a sequel and the first graduation of heroes introduced in Marvel television shows onto the big screen.
The result is a solid Marvel movie that, while it doesn’t achieve the level of a must-see cinematic experience, does stand out above most of what’s been coming down the Marvel pike recently.
The movie centers on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), a test-pilot imbued with awesome cosmic powers who we first met in “Captain Marvel” and who spends most of her time traveling around the galaxy righting wrongs.
Proceedings kick off when Carol’s powers get entangled with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), the daughter of Carol’s best friend who was introduced in “WandaVision” and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a teenage superhero who is obsessed with Captain Marvel and was introduced in “Ms. Marvel.”
The three heroes inconveniently swap places with each other whenever they use their powers, so they are forced to team up to figure out how to untangle their powers all while trying to thwart Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), an alien who will go to any length to save her own dying planet while seeking as much retribution against Captain Marvel as she can along the way.
“The Marvels” has a lot of charm as writer/director Nia DaCosta brings a creative flair to the film seen in moments like the opening fight scene where everyone’s powers first get tangled and different characters pop in and out of three different battles taking place in the farthest reaches of the galaxy, on the deck of a space station and in the living room of an apartment in Jersey City.
There are also some genuinely funny moments like a visit to a planet where all language is sang instead of spoken and quite possibly the most hilarious Andrew Lloyd Webber needle drop of all time.
The cast keeps things above boards as well as the chemistry between the three leads is fun to watch, especially Vellani and her fangirl energy. Plus you have Samuel L. Jackson running around doing Samuel L. Jackson things and holding down the center of the film as Nick Fury.
On the down side, Dar-Benn is kind of a weak villain and when the movie shifts away from practical sets with actual humans to an overstimulating, computer-generated mishmash, we see some of Marvel’s more recent bad habits take the audience out of the movie.
The takeaway from “The Marvels” for Marvel Studios is that it’s ok to make a stand-alone movie that’s nothing more than an entertaining romp through space with enjoyable characters. Sometimes simpler is better.
“The Marvels” is rated PG-13 for action/violence and brief language.