THE best thing about “The Marvels” is that for a Marvel movie, it has a surprisingly short running time at less than two hours. But the narrative is jumbled, lacks cohesion and the big saving grace is the musical numbers ala-Bollywood that are quite delightful.
The movie is a sequel to “Captain Marvel”, the origin story that introduced Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), a U.S. pilot who lost her memory while in the Kree planet called Hala. She becomes known as the titular Captain Marvel.
Here, she gets assistance from two other characters in other Marvel projects: Teyonnah Paris as Monica Rambeau from the series “Wanda Vision” (the daughter of Maria Rambeau, Carol’s best friend) who works with Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and Iman Villani as Kamala Khan from the series “Miss Marvel” (a diehard fan of Captain Marvel living with her family in Jersey City.)
If you’re a big and diehard Marvel fan, then you are already familiar with all these characters which are multi-racial as Danvers is a blonde Caucasian, Monica is black and Kamala is Asian (she and her family are Indian.)
“The Marvels” start with the villain Dar Benn (Zawe Ashton, the girlfriend of Tom Hiddleston or Loki), the leader of the Kree people, getting one of the quantum bands which can make her powerful. She also wants the other half of the band to be even more powerful, but it is under the possession of the teenage Kamala.
With the band, Dar Benn manages to tear space, creating an anomalous wormhole or jump point. The powers of Carol, Monica and Kamala then become intertwined with one another in what is explained as “quantum entanglement” (ask Alden Richards about it.) They can teleport in the blink of an eye to easily exchange places with one another.
They then become a trio in a shared adventure who must work together to save the universe from the rampaging Dar Benn. Kamala calls their team The Marvels, while Dar Benn continues to create more jump points.
She opens another one to steal the ocean water from the planet of Aladna (whose prince is played by Korean actor Park Seo Joon in a short role) and transfer it to Hala. Her ultimate intergalactic goal is to steal the sun from Earth and give it to Hala, which has lost its sunlight.
Of course, it’s easy to deduce that Dar Benn will eventually be subdued. After all, she’s alone and is no real threat. How can she win when she is up against three super heroines who combine their powers to beat her?
In the process, more unbelievable things happen (but this is a comic book fantasy, so don’t ask too many questions anymore). Monica closes a wormhole from the other side and is no longer able to rejoin her two comrades. But when she wakes up, she is reunited with her mother Maria (Lashana Lynch.)
Carol, in turn, flies into the sun of Hala and uses her own power to restore its light. Kamala starts to organize a new group of young women and the first one she recruits is Kate Bishop or Hawkeye (played by Hailee Stanfield).
In a mid-credits sequence, we also see the mutant Hank McCoy or Beast from X-Men (played by Kelsey Grammer) popping up to talk to Monica.
The three lead actresses all do pretty well in their respective roles. Brie Larson is just so cool and sexy as Carol. Teyonah Parris has a very warm appeal as the Carol’s niece who misses her mom. Iman Vellani invests her role with liberal amounts of infectious sunny teenage energy.
Director Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”) does her best to make a comprehensive way to cram in all the separate stories of the three major characters. She also tries to connect them with other Marvel Cinematic Universe shows and it honestly can be quite messy at times.
It will be a big help if you’re already familiar with the other films or content shows of Carol, Monica and Kamala as well as the “Secret Invasion” Marvel miniseries on Disney Plus.
In trying to balance and juggle all these elements, the emotional connections appear rushed or forced. In the end, some characters do not really serve any purpose, like Samuel Jackson as Fury and even Kamala’s family who didn’t really get to contribute anything significant.
But we did enjoy the show stopping musical sequence where everyone is singing and dancing like Bollywood. And yes, there’s Goose, the alien cat who is not really a cat but a Flerken (whatever that maybe) who can swallow people whole and spit them out again.