The movie may have been delayed (again), but a new trailer for The Marvels is here to get everyone hyped for November. A sequel to Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and WandaVision, The Marvels finds Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan trapped in a weird sci-fi finger trap where they switch places with each other whenever they use their powers, and also there’s a villain of some sort. Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani return from their various movies and series as Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel, respectively, with Samuel L. Jackson also back as Nick Fury. Goose, the cat who’s more than he seems (and who ruined Nick Fury’s backstory), and Kamala’s family are here too, and Zawe Ashton plays the villain. Directed by Nia DaCosta, The Marvels arrives in theaters on November 10, 2023, and you can see the trailer below:
The Marvels looks like a Disney+ show to me. For all the money I’m sure they’re throwing at this movie, it looks cheap. Take, for example, that early clip where Monica is transported to the Moon, or some planet that looks like the Moon, and has to fight a bunch of what I assume are Kree warriors. It looks like one of those cheapo planets from the original Star Trek, and the Kree have dull, flat, plastic-looking outfits to match the ambiance. The difference is that, while they haven’t mentioned what the budget is yet, I’m sure it’s much bigger than what Star Trek got for its entire run, even adjusted for inflation. There’s no reason this stuff should look like a fan film. It makes me wonder if the Disney+ shows are eating up too much of the overall Marvel cash allotment. Or maybe Disney is right, and Victoria Alonso left everyone high and dry to promote her documentary for Amazon. Or both; it can always be both.
As for everything else, it isn’t so bad as to elicit anger or frustration. The Marvels trailer is just kind of… there. I didn’t like Ms. Marvel, but I did like Iman Vellani, for the most part; she seemed to be doing what she could to make the show fun, and Kamala wasn’t annoying or anything. But based on the trailer, it looks like The Marvels may be amplifying her personality to grating levels, because they’re going mega-fangirl with her. That can be fine in small doses; they did it well with Spider-Man and Ant-Man in Civil War, for example. But a whole movie of her fawning loudly is going to be tough to take. Monica Rambeau is my favorite of the three based on the previous material, and I liked her in WandaVision (until she said, “They’ll never know what you sacrificed for them” to a lunatic who kidnapped and psychologically tortured an entire town). Maybe she’s supposed to be the happy medium between Kamala’s overbearing enthusiasm and Carol’s standoffishness.
And that’s the elephant in the room: Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers. She’s been a stilted, arrogant, annoying bore so far, and while I’m not excited to see her again, I wonder if The Marvels is going to address that and maybe even correct it. The fact that they’re buttressing her sequel with two other co-leads and Samuel L. Jackson indicates that they don’t believe she’s a draw on her own without two sandwiching Avengers movies and the benefit of the doubt from an unfamiliar general audience hopped up on a decade of Marvel goodwill. If they were smart, they’d play into that, having Monica wonder why she’s so miserable all the time or having her hurt the feelings of her biggest (only?) fan, Kamala, and making the now-disillusioned girl wish she hadn’t met her hero. They’d never have a male character tell her that because it’s racist or whatever, but they’ve got an opportunity now with two other women around to play off of her.
And there are some indications that The Marvels may be doing that, not that I want to get ahead of myself after Phase 4 and Quantumania. The scene where she crashes into Kamala’s dining room is funny because of the mini-tantrum she takes; unlike her pissiness in Captain Marvel, it’s understandable here because she keeps getting yanked away from whatever she’s doing. And I also laughed at that scene at the alien wedding when she lifts the veil and looks around like, “The hell is this?” The joke is Carol’s reaction to something foreign to her, and she’s such a stiff that the gag works better than if, say, Tony Stark did it. This is their chance to salvage the character, to get her to a point where she removes the chip on her shoulder and becomes someone people might enjoy seeing in a movie. But again, I don’t have much faith in Marvel anymore, and Disney seems like a lost cause in general.
Otherwise, nothing knocks my socks off. The cat is back, and I don’t care, unless they retcon the loss of Fury’s eye. Something like, “Nah, that healed in a couple of weeks. You didn’t think I lost it that way, did you?” would be much appreciated, clunky though it may be. Some research reveals that the villain is Dar-Benn, a Kree general and a minor character from the comics. Dar-Benn is also originally a man, but in the movie is gender-swapped because this is what Marvel does now. I liked Zawe Ashton in a British film called Blitz, and Dar-Benn is someone most people – like me – won’t know, but this is getting old. I like the opening sequence in space; unlike the lousy-looking planet, this was filmed well, and it’s neat to see Monica exploring rather than just going into action. And I won’t lie; I laughed a little when they made their hero team stance and Monica was up front, with Carol standing in the back. It’s indicative of what’s become of the character they said would be “the face of the MCU.” It brings Brie Larson’s interview at Comic-Con into perspective.