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'The Marvels' Proves Laughter is the Best Medicine for Superhero Fatigue

"Oh Captain, My Captain!"

Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full force, and Captain Marvel returns for a sequel all her own. Well, that is if you count the other two leads that steal every scene away from the superhero every chance they get. That's the stage set in "The Marvels," directed by Nia DaCosta ("Candyman") and starring Brie Larson in a reprisal of a character she introduced to global audiences in 2019. This sequel was undoubtedly in the works for quite some time, seeing as "Captain Marvel" grossed over $1 billion at the box office and contributed to the success of "Avengers: Endgame" upon its release.

Larson returns as Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. After helping save Earth from the horrors of The Blip that caused half the world's population to disappear, Captain Marvel is constantly tasked with helping to save other planets the best she can. She is reunited with her deceased best friend's daughter, Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), now an adult with superpowers who works alongside Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). The two team up with teenage human-mutant Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) after the trio swap places repeatedly whenever each of them uses their powers.

The three leads are thrust together during a time of great civil war amongst the Kree, which might be a result of Captain Marvel's destruction of the Supreme Intelligence during "Captain Marvel." A new villain emerges named Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), a Kree warrior who uses her mighty hammer to destroy those who interfere with her plans to locate an ancient bangle. Kamala owns the bangle in question, immediately placing a target on her back.

"The Marvels" enters the moviegoing culture at a time of significant superhero fatigue amongst even the most ardent supporters of Marvel Studios. With DC and Marvel battling it out in movie theaters and on streaming television to reign supreme over comic book fans, audiences have been bombarded with countless hours of superhero content over the past 15 years, some of which aren't worth their extended runtimes.

Going into this movie, one could argue that "Captain Marvel," "Avengers; Endgame," and the Disney+ shows "WandaVision" and "Ms. Marvel" should be watched as a prerequisite to understanding any of the characters or events in this latest release. However, "The Marvels" is an entertaining rollercoaster ride of space adventures, cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and hilarious antics that make this endeavor stand out amongst a sea of Marvel predictability. The film is a short, action-packed adventure thanks in large part to the chemistry between the three leading characters, who propel the zany premise forward without taking itself too seriously.

Though Dar-Benn proves to be a forgettably weak villain, and the reunion between Carol and Monica is a bit of a letdown, the movie gains extra points for Iman Vellani's portrayal of the spunky Kamala Khan. As the ultimate Captain Marvel superfan, Khan gives the film much-needed levity and brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe down to the basics. There is minimal talk of multiverse nonsense, and Vellani deserves to see her star rise for steering the Marvel ship back to its roots: this one's for families. The scenes where the Khan brood clashes with Nick Fury and Flerkens (ahem, cats) take control of intergalactic escapes to the tune of Barbra Streisand's "Memory" are some of the funniest sequences Marvel has delivered in recent years.

"The Marvels" provides enough energy and excitement to satisfy the casual comic book movie observer, even if it's fleeting. Captain Marvel as a character isn't necessarily enough to warrant another similar film, but giving her allies in Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan makes for a worthwhile event. The film is exceptionally female-forward from the top down and surprises more than it bores. Some scenes work better than others, and nothing is groundbreaking in its attempts. However, "The Marvels" is a delightful entry in a long line of cinematic offerings from a depleted movie studio.

Ticket Rating: 🎟🎟🎟1/2


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