As almost everyone who likes superhero films already knows by now, Marvel Studios is knee-deep into Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU for short. Phase Five began back in February with the third installment in the Ant-Man series, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantamania. In May, the 32nd film in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was released and this month, The Marvels, the sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel, will hit theaters nationwide. Starring Brie Larson (Fast X) as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, newcomer Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, and Teyonah Parris (Candyman) as Monica Rambeau/Captain Rambeau (Photon) the plot reveals the three ladies teaming up, reluctantly, to save the universe.
When the bracelet Kamala wears as the source of her superpowers suddenly begins to start glowing, she suddenly finds herself no longer in her room at home, only to have been replaced by Captain Marvel. In a split second, Captain Marvel is switched with Photon and then Kamala. This goes on for about 8-10 minutes until the danger has been contained. After the threat temporarily passes, the three individuals meet up and try to figure out why they swap places when they use their powers and how to control it if they are going to be able to defeat the Kree warrior that poses a threat to them all.
Larson was a wonderful choice to portray Captain Marvel in the first film and she is just as strong in this second outing, though she seems much skinnier than in the previous movie. Her sarcastic responses are humorous and she plays them with just the right amount of sass along with complimenting facial expressions and the perfect inflection in her vocal tone. Vellani offers a somewhat more mature version of Kamala/Ms. Marvel than she did previously in the Disney+ limited series. Of the three main heroes, Parris is the weakest one of them. I found her to be annoying and not quite up to the same level as Larson and Vellani.
While there is some very good stunt work at play in this film, it can't make up for some of the other shortcomings. Along with the fight sequences and swapping locations mid-fight, The Marvels has some sharp dialogue, humorous moments, and strong acting. However, there are also some incredibly stupid scenes, less-than-stellar effects, a boring soundtrack, unlikable costumes, and more than one cringy line of dialogue.
A perfect example of the good and the bad is when the Flerkens were being used as pseudo-compact cars, gobbling up humans to transport them back to Earth in a tiny escape pod and then spitting them out. The scene is ridiculous but coupled with a certain, famous song playing in the background, the scene is hilarious. However, when the scene and song play out for far too long, the gag becomes overkill and loses the enjoyment factor.
Co-writer and director Nia DaCosta (Candyman) tries to add something different to the typical superhero mix but what one can only assume was meant to be unique comes across as a flashback to a Disneyworld parade with colorful costumes, singing, and dancing. I suppose it was meant to be funny, but it wasn't. It was as if we had changed the channel to watch something else during a commercial break but then switched back to the original show.
The biggest problems with Marvel Studios these days are 1) they are trying to deviate from the tried and true and creating subpar stories that cost a lot to make but that don't perform as well as expected at the box office and 2) they keep adding characters that nobody would know unless they watched the different limited series that aired on Disney+, thereby automatically excluding a segment of the population that might have otherwise gone to see the film.
The Marvels isn't awful but it isn't amazing either. It is merely okay with some great laughs, some decent fight scenes, and some moments that would be better left forgotten.