‘THE MARVELS’ or How Not Even a Singing Planet Can Make Me Like This Homework

Over the years as a film critic my relationship with superhero movies has been an interesting one. In many ways I’m a defender of the genre and find those who dismiss them as not being cinema to be absurd. However, the fandoms surrounding the popcorn films often make them hard to stand up for or engage with and this goes for both DC and Marvel. It also doesn’t help that the films, outside of animation, have been largely weak for a while now. Sure we get an occasional Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3 but most are underwhelming at best. The latest to join this club is The Marvels from the MCU. To say this film is a disjointed, confusing mess would be an understatement. It makes mixed entries like Thor: Love and Thunder look coherent and well done. If the combination of this and the very underwhelming latest Antman movie don’t give Marvel the wakeup call they need I don’t know what will.

I know some people complained about Dr Strange 2 being too tied to Wandavision and that was a concern I had, but I gave it a bit of a pass because Wandavision was in the heart of the pandemic when theaters were closed so most people attending MOM had probably seen it. Now we have The Marvels that requires heavy knowledge of the last Captain Marvel movie, Wandavision and Ms Marvel and I’m sorry but it really felt like homework this go-around. I wish someone had told me I needed to have seen all of this before watching the film and even if I had I still think I would be confused because of the choppy editing.

It is abundantly clear this movie was heavily influenced by reshoots. Characters are introduced and then we move away from them for a long while, plot points are scattered haphazardly without concern for flow or a coherent story. This is especially true with our villain, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), who I think we are supposed to sympathize with but the character arc is so choppy and the performance so bland that I was completely unmoved by her.

It’s a shame because the 3 leads do have a nice chemistry together and there are fun individual moments. Iman Vellani is particularly good as the Captain Marvel hype girl Ms Marvel. I don’t know why they didn’t have her team up with America Chavez from MOM. The two of them have similar energy and would be a good dynamic but she is cute.

I also died laughing at a scene involving cats and Cats if you get my drift. They even have a section where they go to a planet where everyone sings all the time. That should be right up my ally but it was so disconnected from the villain and the story it only mildly amused me. For some reason (I guess?) Captain Marvel needs to destroy the sun because of AI that she destroyed in the first movie. This caused genocide of a people and this involves Monica Rambeau for some reason. I was lost.

I am sure some will say ‘but Rachel it’s just a fun movie’ and I do have to give it credit for being short. Most comicbook movies are so bloated these days but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some coherence in story and character arcs in my ‘fun movies’ these days. There might have been a good movie buried somewhere in The Marvels but what I saw was a big mess. My Marvel ladies deserve much better than one of the worst movies the MCU has sadly ever produced (My advice stay home and watch Across the Spiderverse and TMNT instead.)

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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