The Marvel Cinematic Universe refreshes their fifth phase with empowering storytelling for new generation of fans
“The Marvels” brilliantly rings in a new era of Marvel films that reignites the heart and joy of the franchise in a way that has been missing from recent releases.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, is a groundbreaking franchise that has built its expansive storytelling over the years, leading up to the highly anticipated film, “The Marvels.” Bringing together characters from “Ms. Marvel,” “WandaVision” and “Captain Marvel,” the movie follows Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Brie Larson as Carol Danvers as the characters navigate switching places with one another whenever they use their superhero powers. If that was not enough, the newly formed team has to defeat the warrior princess Dar-Benn as she seeks revenge on Captain Marvel.
After a recent slump in Marvel movie quality with letdowns like “Ant Man: Quantumania,” I had high hopes that “The Marvels” would surprise me and bring back the classic adventure-packed, character-driven model that made me fall in love with the franchise. I think I speak for most fans when I say that “The Marvels” had big shoes to fill. In particular, I was excited to see the return of Kamala Khan’s character, because her Pakistani American background and bubbly personality made me feel seen and connected to Marvel in a way I had never felt before. My parents rarely watch American television, but “Ms. Marvel” was the exception because it had elements of our hometown, religion and our culture seeped into it.
I was beginning to get tired of three-hour long Marvel films that made up for a lack of plot with overdone CGI and incoherent action sequences. “The Marvels” was not that. Instead, the action sequences were artfully intertwined with the storytelling. Watching Carol, Monica and Kamala learn how to fight Dar-Benn and not one another as they took control of their swapping predicament made for fight scenes that seemed intentional and thematically relevant. I enjoyed seeing the growth from early scenes where there was clear frustration and pushback to the climax where each hero worked in tandem. The flourishing teamwork in the action sequences mirrored the sister-like relationship dynamic that was established throughout the film. In addition, I was excited to see a predominantly female cast in a generally male-dominated genre. Though Marvel has introduced plenty of female characters over the years, there is something unique about seeing three strong female heroes team up to fight an equally strong female villain.
My favorite Marvel movies consistently strike a proper balance between action, comedy and heartfelt scenes. The “Guardians of the Galaxy” films and “Thor: Ragnarök” are perfect examples of this concept. Though it does not quite live up to the legendary status of these films in my personal ranking, “The Marvels” does hold its own and surpasses “Black Widow” and “The Eternals” by far. I especially enjoyed the lighthearted, quippy dynamic that Kamala’s family brought to the movie. All their little Urdu phrases or whispered prayers made me feel like Marvel personally investigated my family, made duplicates and put them on screen.
After the end credits scene, I left the theater wanting to rewatch all the previous films and do a deep dive into comic history — the mark of a truly well-done superhero film. If “The Marvels” is any indicator, the next phase of the MCU will be new and different, but also fun and adventurous.