(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.

‘The Marvels’ Is a Fun, Fantastical Entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

4/5 flerkens on a ship

The Marvels is a refreshing take from director Nia DaCosta that weaves together the stories of three women learning what it takes to work together. Fresh, funny, and one of Marvel’s sillier films, The Marvels allows itself to have fun—making for a movie that is exhilarating to watch while still giving fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe what they’ve come to know and love from the franchise.

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The Marvels follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), who’s forced back into working with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) when her powers become intertwined with Monica and a new hero: Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani). Carol’s biggest fan, Kamala is a refreshingly fun addition to the cast. Her moments with Carol are filled with hope; Kamala stills wants to look at Captain Marvel as her hero, and Carol has a lot of moments where she has to come to terms with not only her past, but also what it means to be a symbol to others.

Where The Marvels shines is in its ability to let these three characters learn from each other, thrive separate from one another, and be separate characters all at the same time—without sacrificing aspects of their identity for the story. With one of Marvel’s slimmer runtimes, The Marvels really is a short and sweet entry in the franchise that packs a punch. It’s a nice return to form for fans while still being new and exciting.

Highlighting the power of three incredible women

Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Splitting time between three characters could result in one or more losing screen time, but that’s not what happens with The Marvels. Much like how they have to figure out how to use their powers together, the film strikes a balance between poignant moments for each of the women. We still have those moments where Monica and Carol explore their backstory, and Kamala gets to talk with Carol about her love and admiration for her.

It’d be easy for the movie to sacrifice one character or another for the story, but we even get to spend time with Kamala’s family and we see flashes of Monica’s life with Carol when she was younger. DaCosta weaves in the stories of their lives in the midst of the big action and fun sequences, highlighting the emotional core of our heroes and adding weight to their journey without taking away from the lighter energy of the film.

There is an emotional weight to all three of their character arcs, even as they deal with a villain who’s putting up quite the fight against our heroes.

A villain worthy of three mighty heroes

Zawe Ashton, dressed in a grey uniform, smiles as she holds a giant hammer.
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) is, like many villains in Marvel’s recent slate of films, connected to the franchise’s past. But her pain comes from what Carol Danvers did to the planet Hala, and it fuels her every move. Dar-Benn wants to take from places that Carol loves most and hurt Carol while she can, and it makes her a force to be reckoned with. Paired with the Cosmi-Rod, Dar-Benn is powerful and can easily take on Captain Marvel on her own, but she proves worthy of battling three of the strongest heroes at once.

It’d be easy to make Dar-Benn a villain who is wholly evil without any redeemable moments. Marvel is good at that; just look at Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), another Kree like Dar-Benn. But Ashton’s performance brings more layers to this new villain.

This is a Goose stan account

Goose the Flerken in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

While Captain Marvel might have made you love Goose the Flerken, The Marvels will make her your favorite. Not only does she travel with Carol through space (perfection), but she is also a major player in the film. Goose makes coffee, hangs out with her girl Carol, and just genuinely does whatever it is that she wants (as a cat is wont to do), and ends up driving one of the best sequences of the entire movie.

As a cat owner, it made me really happy to not only see the love for cats on the press tour, but also in the film itself. Cats are often given the shaft in film and television, where they’re depicted as mean and dismissive, but Goose is shown as being loving, protective, and a hero. It’s oddly emotional to see cats embraced in such a fun and loving way. Goose is a queen, and if Nick Fury can love and appreciate her— even after she accidentally took his eye—we can all love cats, too.

At its core, The Marvels about learning how to be a team

(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

What makes The Marvels work is the team at its center. Kamala, Carol, and Monica learn how to work together because they have no other choice. When their powers are intertwined, they have to train as one, and it makes for one of the best training sequences in the MCU. We see three women having fun, thinking of exciting ways to collaborate, and just enjoying each other’s company while being there for one another. That’s something we haven’t seen in the MCU in a minute, and it made me giddy to watch as a fan of this franchise.

Marvel has been stuck in a pattern of standalone films and bringing eras to an end, that we haven’t had a great team-up in a while and that’s exactly what this feels like. The Marvels is funny, witty, and just an all-around blast to watch. Even when it gets too silly or feels a little rushed, it wins me back in the long run—and that’s just what I love about the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)


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Author
Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.