There was a time not too long ago when buying tickets for the new MCU project was like Black Friday shopping. People would stay up to get tickets for opening night the moment they were released. Oversaturation and lackluster projects have led audiences to lose interest in what once captivated audiences worldwide. Expectations and excitement for “The Marvels” were set so low, that my opening night showing only had ten people in it. While the film has its flaws, it also shows glimpses of a promising future.
The story begins as Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan find their powers mysteriously intertwined. Whenever any two of them use their abilities at the same time, they switch places. Initially, this premise is interesting, particularly when it is utilized in a brilliantly choreographed fight scene in the first act. Yet, upon reflection, it seems this twist was an attempt to dampen Captain Marvel’s overwhelming strength. This approach, unfortunately, forms the centerpiece of the film’s shortcomings.
One common critique of Captain Marvel has been the lack of depth to Carol Danvers. In this film, Marvel attempts to enrich her character with a more pronounced narrative arc. However, this focus sidelines any other elements of the story, culminating in a rather bland villain, arguably the least interesting in the MCU. The antagonist, Dar-Been, self-proclaimed ruler of the Kree empire, is driven to revitalize their dying homeworld, for which she holds Captain Marvel responsible. This plot confuses the audience, as it hints at a significant backstory on the Kree homeworld that remains unexplored. While the movie uses flashbacks and exposition to bridge these gaps, it fails to convey any emotional depth. The introduction of Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau, characters previously featured in Disney Plus series, further exemplifies this issue. The film doesn’t allow adequate time for audiences to connect with these characters or understand their motivations. This lack of development results in a narrative that feels unfinished and lacking in real stakes.
The film truly shines when its three protagonists, Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan, share the screen. Their chemistry, coupled with well-timed humor, creates an engaging and relatable group. Iman Vallani, in her portrayal of Kamala Khan, emerges as the standout of the movie. Her portrayal is the emotional core of the film, with her character’s family serving as a pivotal element. Vallani’s enthusiasm and charm in the role are unmatched, which allows the audience to root for her. However, the film’s potential is undercut by its script. The writing and dialogue restrict the actors’ ability to fully express their talents.
The appeal of the MCU lies in its characters, which have developed over many years. “The Marvels” had the potential to be a standout addition to the MCU, particularly with more focus on the trio at its center. A well-written villain, one capable of challenging and evolving the protagonists, would have significantly elevated the film. While showcasing some great talent, “The Marvels” ultimately misses the mark by not fully leveraging its plot to deepen and transform its central characters.