‘I’ ON CULTURE
There is real danger in the Marvel Universe, and it is shown in the new movie The Marvels. That villain is bad writing. I was a huge fan of the whole universe up through Avengers: Endgame. And so was the rest of the world, if box office receipts are any judge. I did like Black Widow, although more for its black comedy of Natasha’s family than anything else. And the last live action Spider-Man movie was brilliant. But the rest of the films have just been sort of adequate. And that’s the knock on this latest one.
The movie begins bleakly as Kree leader Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) screams for vengeance and conquest. We then shift to Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), who is checking out problems in the galaxy while teenage Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan (Iman Villani) dreams about her at home and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) deals with problems on a space station.
Suddenly, the universes twist around as the three women, all of whom use light in different ways as weapons, start switching bodies each time they use a power. After more than a bit of confusion that is supposed to be fun, they battle bad guys at Khan’s home in Jersey City. They eventually wind up together and start, under the direction of Nick Fury, to search for what is wrong. That leads to sub-plots that last no more than a few scenes. Finally, somewhere in the 15th hour of the film (OK, about an hour and fifteen minutes in) we find out that when Captain Marvel killed the Supreme Intelligence, it ruined the Kree’s home planet. So, of course, there’s lots more fighting, a chance for those non-quite cats from the first movie in the series to be a bit disgusting. And a final battle where the good guys win, and along the way our heroic women figure out how to save the Kree planet.
The real problem here is that the main plot is so busy handling all the extras that it gets lost along the way. Some of the by-ways are cute. The gals binding through body switching while jumping ropes and juggling was adorable, but stopped the plot in its tracks. In the really good movies, the cute bits were short and usually an element in the plot. Here, partway through, I was trying to figure out which way the movie was going. The cast was OK. Frankly, almost no one had any major complex acting to do. Ashton merely had to be angry, Parris’ character had to be the brilliant one, and Khan only had to be adorable (which she generally was). I did like Zenobia Shroff as Kamala’s mother. She not only handled the comedic aspects well but was touching in spots where needed.
The real problem with the whole series now is that they are making themselves irrelevant. The story itself, looking for a wrist cuff that gave power, is a rip-off of the earlier films. The “dramatic” differences between Danvers and Rambeau were settled with a three-minute conversation. With Thanos, there was an aura of authority and real danger to the universe. That just didn’t exist here. Also, the push on “let’s make this a women’s power film” cost it. Just about all the early movies had strong women characters to balance out the men. Here, Nick Fury was the only male with authority but actually had just about nothing to do. The villain could have been male. Or someone.
Years ago, I was almost as bad as the geeks on The Big Bang Theory when they were waiting for the big movies to come. I almost counted days down for the next films, even bought them so I could keep seeing them. That has ended. They are turning out too many things and don’t have the consistency anymore. I wish they were better. I wanted them to be better. My grandsons, who are usually eager to come with me to these films, really have lost interest. This is not a bad movie. It is OK. There are some good moments in it, some real “Marvel” moments. But the glory days are gone.