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‘The Marvels’ fails to astonish

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On Nov. 8, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and sequel to 2019’s “Captain Marvel” titled “The Marvels” was released in Korea. The film stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. 

With Larson, Parris, and Vellani’s characters sharing the spotlight as protagonists, the narrative centers around the superheroes’ similar light-based power sets. However, two of the main characters were introduced in Marvel’s Disney Plus series with Ms. Marvel in her titular miniseries and Monica Rambeau in “WandaVision.” 

While Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige has assured a creative course correction in their productions, “The Marvels” is not exempt from the recent downward trajectory of recent MCU films in quality. 

Chief among the movie’s problems is an unengaging and forgettable plot. The primary antagonist of the film, Dar-Benn, played by Zawe Ashton, suffers from two-dimensional characterization despite her sympathetic motivations. With a backstory told through lazily cut-together flashback sequences, her turn to cartoonish villainy remains underbaked. The overreliance on action setpieces and CGI sky beams leaves the plot feeling barebones and without a compelling emotional core. 

Additionally, despite the film’s plot creating a multitude of opportunities for interesting and entertaining interactions between the three leads, the lack of chemistry between the main cast, largely between Paris’s Monica Rambeau and Larson’s Captain Marvel, causes the character conflicts to feel artificial and ultimately unsatisfactory once resolved, which are not helped by the near-immediacy of their resolution. The injection of humor is also frequently used as a crutch in the midst of emotional tension, ultimately creating a sense of insincerity and lack of confidence in the storytelling.  

These issues are exacerbated by the shaky, erratic characterization of Captain Marvel, who, despite making numerous appearances in the MCU since 2019, has still failed to be portrayed in a consistent manner. This film alone sees jarring changes in her characterization from each scene to the next. This is exceedingly disappointing as Brie Larson is an extremely talented actress, having won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2016, and would likely be able to give a more compelling performance had her character had a stable, defined characterization from the start. Likewise, Samuel L. Jackson’s reprisal of Nick Fury suffers many of the same issues with his more comedic portrayal draining much of the gravitas that the character typically brought with an appearance.

A lone bright spot in this movie may be Iman Vellani’s portrayal of Kamala Khan or Ms. Marvel, bringing a level of enthusiasm and energy that has been missing from previous MCU installments. If the movie could be salvaged, it would no doubt be because of Vellani’s performance. 

For more die-hard fans of the MCU and Marvel characters, this film may be worth a watch with its heavy teases toward the future of the cinematic universe at the movie’s tailend and in its post-credit scene. However, for the average movie-goer, “The Marvels” leaves a lot to be desired in terms of a fulfilling narrative and compelling character work, ultimately being a skippable entry in the franchise. 

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About the Contributor
Brandon Choi, Executive Copy Editor
Brandon is the senior executive copy editor for Tiger Times. He enjoys playing basketball, watching good TV shows and movies, and listening to music. He follows US politics often and can sometimes get too passionate about certain issues. Don't approach him when he's in a bad mood.

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