November 9, 2023

CINEMA | Brie Larson Captains 'The Marvels'

"I walked through a barrier of a witch hex and now I can manipulate light energy."
Brie Larson Teyonah Parris Zawe Ashton Nia DiCosta | The Marvels | Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
African-American filmmaker Nia DaCosta takes over the Captain Marvel reigns in the cosmic superhero team-up sequel The Marvels. Brie Larson returns to both Earth and outer space when her intergalactic powers get entangled with two other marvellously powerful characters we've already seen before.

Teyonah Parris and the delightful Ontario native Iman Vellani reprise their roles as Monica Rambeau from WandaVision and Kamala Khan from Ms. Marvel to form a new team of "Marvels" in what feels like a half-baked rehash of various alien invasion elements of other Marvel Studios films. There are so many inconsistencies between the characters, story beats, and overall arc of the film's messy plot.

The talented Zawe Ashton is saddled with a nothing villain character, another unremarkable alien Kree warrior, while Samuel L. Jackson as Nicky Fury has little to do aside from filling in expositional gaps and acting as the comic relief. For such an expensive film, there feels like maybe two dozen characters seen on screen and only a handful of speaking parts.

Everything in The Marvels feels stitched together from spare or less-than-cohesive parts. DaCosta, a gifted genre filmmaker and co-writer here, knows how to direct fine performances and balance dramatic material well. However, she has to juggle so much baggage and combine disparate characters she did not originate on screen herself into a mess of a space adventure.

There have been so many side stories since the first Captain Marvel film, a '90s-set prequel to the rest of the MCU, that convolutes the goings-on in this muddled, hyperactive follow-up. The Marvels feels like an unnecessary spin-off or pilot episode of another, more interesting franchise (think Star Trek). Larson, Parris, and Vellani do their best to have fun, but nothing about the sequel comes together at all. It's also hard to track where this film fits into the current expansive Multiverse Saga storyline, if at all.

More | YVArcade / Inverse / Polygon / ScreenCrush

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