Directed by: Nia DaCosta
Written by: Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, Elissa Karasik
Starring: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Gary Lewis, Samuel L. Jackson
Released: November 9, 2023
Grade: C+

The Marvels

There have been 33 films thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and The Marvels sets a new record… for being the shortest (it’s just 105 minutes).  This will come as a relief to (1) cinema managers looking to pack in more screenings and more ticket sales, and (2) audience members with limited attention spans who have tired of unnecessarily long action flicks.

Unfortunately, that’s one of the only noteworthy speaking points when speaking of The Marvels.  It’s light on runtime (good) and light on originality (bad).  It’s got folks learning the importance of working as a team, a one-note villain who will stop at nothing to destroy the universe, musical montages as they play with superpowers, wacky science speak which is difficult to understand, heavily-edited action sequences with an abundance of CGI, and Samuel L. Jackson popping up every now again to say something insignificant.

It’s tough to keep using the same formulas and expecting audiences fully buy in.  We’ve got entire planets which are going to be obliterated by the villainous Dar-Benn (Ashton) but background information is slight and so it’s hard to care.  I’ve got no issue with blending tones but the drama isn’t convincing enough to create emotions (like we’ve seen in some Avengers movies), and the comedy isn’t sharp enough to earn laughs.

Pakistani-born newcomer Iman Vellani (Ms. Marvel) is the pick of the cast with her extroverted, over-awed personality.  She verbalises every feeling and is infatuated by the idea of working alongside her idol, Captain Marvel (Larson), in saving Earth.  I was less convinced by her loving family members who don’t get much support from the three-person screenwriting team.  One minute they’re intently concerned for their daughter’s welfare and the next minute, they’re cracking lame jokes.  The family in the most recent Marvel flick, Blue Beetle, were more “fleshed out” and had more to offer.

There are dashes of creativity, such as an appropriate song choice which will put money in the pocket of Andrew Lloyd Webber, but The Marvels largely comes across as a forgettable, subplot-establishing bridge to whatever movie is next in the franchise.