REVIEW: “The Marvels” misses the mark

You know that nightmare where you have a homework assignment due in a few hours that you completely forgot about and that your entire grade depends upon? When I experience this dream it’s always a relief to wake up in bed, remembering that I haven’t had a homework assignment in years. 

Maybe these experiences were just that influential. Or maybe I still have homework, just in a different way. 

Being a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has turned into a never-ending cavalcade of homework assignments in a lot of ways, a fact that is very apparent in the latest MCU entry The Marvels

This is a film that is particularly indecipherable if one has not been keeping up with a slew of other Marvel Studio projects, and even if you have watched everything the experience is a disappointing one thanks to The Marvels‘ thin and unclear plot, weak script and complete lack of weight.

When the MCU’s most boring and one-dimensional bad guy starts to do bad things, it is up to Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel, to save the day. This time she is joined by two other characters whose lives become entangled because… they are all associated with each other in the comics, I suppose. 

Oh yes, there is something about magical bracelets and vaguely similar powers and portals, but it’s all very mushy and unclear. They go from point A to point B, stopping briefly at a planet with a bewilderingly insufferable gimmick, and just when you think things are ramping up the film ends, making one think that they must have missed a climax somewhere, because surely that last bit wasn’t meant to be it.

As a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, The Marvels should ostensibly have a lot of focus on the titular character of the former film, yet Brie Larson’s character feels very diminished here as she shares the spotlight with Teyonah Parris (who plays Monica Rambeau and was last seen in Disney+’s WandaVision) and Iman Vellani (who plays Kamala Khan, the main character of Disney+’s Ms. Marvel.) The shared narrative and poor script that props it up does a disservice to both Larson and Parris’ characters, robbing the film of a believable emotional heart as well as character arcs that are all the more important given the flimsiness of the rest of the movie. 

Only Vellani, the clear standout, is fun to watch, giving The Marvels an enjoyable energy that the film frankly doesn’t deserve.

The action is actually pretty well choreographed, speaking of good things, and the body swapping plot leads to some fun set pieces and situations. And there are kittens who only sometimes look like completely fake CGI constructs. 

But overall The Marvels is nigh impossible to follow for newcomers and leaves the MCU faithful dumbfounded. It’s hard to imagine a less consequential plot set in this universe moving forward, and even the most diehard of fans might find it better to just wait for the film’s inevitable release on Disney+.

The Marvels is in theaters.