THE MARVELS Reminds Us How Much Fun the MCU Used to Be

It’s been five years since Brie Larson stepped on screen and instantly became the most divisive entity in the MCU. Not only did she have the audacity to be an empowered woman in the testosterone soaked comic book universe, but she also made a point when doing press to try and be more inclusive, actively granting more access to women and women of color, so that the coverage isn’t predominantly from the white male perspective. It was something that effectively put a target on her back by purposefully ignoring the most vocal and entitled fanbases in recent memory. This of course led to review bombing and just some of the most negative, and as a comic book fan, embarrassing behavior by a group of fans. 

I however, personally enjoyed Captain Marvel, it was a look at the toll of being forged into a human weapon and what that does to a person. Of course the fish out of water stuff is fun and nostalgic, but the meat of the story is the soldier who loses faith in both her country and the war she’s fighting. It was a very poignant metaphor and one that was sadly lost on a big chunk of its audience because of the gender of the character.  

Now here we are about 5 years later and it appears the MCU has heard the gnashing of teeth from the basements, because this story is less a meditation on the female warrior and more your standard team up film. I have a sneaking suspicion that the original intended Captain Marvel sequel was what was eventually turned into Secret Invasion, which is why it felt like it was missing something. Instead this has the infinity powered Danvers teaming up with not only the young girl she left behind in the first film who is now a S.W.O.R.D. agent (Teyonah Parris), but the ray of joy that is Kamala Khan or Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani). The three women have to stop a Kree warrior Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) who is robbing resources from all the planets Carol Danvers calls home in an act of vengeance. This is because we soon discover, that when Marvel destroyed the Supreme Intelligence that ran the Kree homeworld of Hala, a civil war broke out that had the planet of warriors destroying their natural resources in the process. 

Surprisingly enough given its 105 minute runtime, each woman gets their own throughline. We have Monica Rambeau reconnecting with Captain Marvel whom she believes abandoned her, we have Carol coming to terms with the consequences of her actions from the first film and finally we have Ms. Marvel learning why you should never meet your heroes. Captain Marvel’s journey is probably the most interesting since we have a hero who believes she was saving a world only to destroy it, and the weight that puts on her shoulders. I mean while the film gets gloriously weird, and hilarious in a gag filled third act, it feels like it’s to soften the blow that basically the main hero was responsible for nearly committing genocide on the Kree home world. 

While the film honestly lacks an opening act, I think that was a smart move. I think especially with these MCU films, you should have done the required reading before coming to class and this film rewards that, by throwing you right into the thick of it. From there the film is planet hopping whimsical joyride that has the trio learning to put aside their respective traumas and differences to try and be a real team. One of these scenes of team building I swear was inspired by one of my favorite episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, “Dance Like You Want to Win”, where the Eva pilots are charged with being in perfect sync to a musical number to take down a monster. There’s that playful team building vibe to the requisite MCU needle drops here as the women have to learn to control this anomaly that is affecting them, that causes them to switch places with one another whenever they use their powers.  

While the film thankfully has one of the best Disney+ series to lean into for its supporting cast, who are as charming as they were on the small screen, this time they are teamed with my favorite version of Nick Fury – the one who can’t stop playing with his favorite flerken. While the toxic fanbase will of course cry foul sight unseen, The Marvels more than lives up to its name as far as I am concerned. With the current slump the MCU has been in, this film does its best to remind us of the characters and stories that kept bringing us back to the MCU thanks to the story of not only our war torn hero and her estranged niece, but her biggest fan, who is essentially one of us – who never gives up hope. In a MCU phase where most films really struggled to engage with its viewers, I think  those who give The Marvels a chance will be pleasantly surprised. It’s wonderfully weird, charming and just a hell of a lot of fun. I haven’t laughed this hard at an MCU film since Thor: Rangarok, seriously.

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