The Marvels is an hour and forty-five minutes long. That, plus an excellent cast, ends up as the film’s greatest strength. In an age where it seems like everything is longer, more grueling, and stuffed with plotlines, it’s refreshing for a popcorn superhero film to go back to that feeling. Remember folks, that’s where we started with the MCU and all these comic book films. They all started off as just entertaining sci-fi or action films that have evolved into this gigantic beast of endless proportions. The Marvels sheds a bit of weight and ends up better because of it.

Nia DaCosta directs a script from herself, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik. It stars Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton, Samuel L. Jackson, and features Gary Lewis, Park Seo-Joon, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, and Saagar Shaikh.

For those who need a refresher on The Marvels, here’s the official synopsis from Marvel.

Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau.

There might be one big question at the heart of things before you sit down and watch The Marvels though.

How Much And What Do You Need To Watch Before Seeing The Marvels?

Well, it really depends on how much you want to get out of the film. At the bare minimum, you need to have seen Captain Marvel and that’s really about it. They do a fantastic job of explaining and introducing Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan for audiences that haven’t seen WandaVision or Ms. Marvel. However, if you have seen those shows, you’ll get even more out of it. Like the big Comic Book events that Marvel does, they do side stories around them that enhance the experience of your favorite characters. Reports of “oh, you need to see 6 shows, 35 movies, and whatever else” are overblown.

What Are The Best Parts Of The Marvels?

There’s a lot to like about the film. I already mentioned the runtime being an aid to get you in and out without too much fuss. Adding onto that is the frenetic pace of the action scenes. The gimmick of having Carol, Kamala, and Monica all swap places when they use their powers is a stroke of genius that basically makes the characters teleport around like they’re in Dragon Ball Z. Once they figure out how to use it, the action scenes where they’re snapping around are breathtaking. It’s also very nice that all three main characters have distinctive visual styles that you can see when they’re using their powers. The action is hard-hitting and full of energy.

The performances from the three leads is one of the biggest parts of how The Marvels works. Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan steals the show and is the absolute heart of the film. Her fangirling and wonder is a joy to watch on screen. Teyonah Parris as Monica is just straight-up badass. Her powers are a nice change from the usual hit things really hard, instead relying on the physics of going matterless to having matter in an instant to power up her attacks. Her emotional work in the film especially when it comes to her mom also adds a lot to the heart of the film.

Brie Larson is excellent as Captain Marvel once again. She plays one of the most powerful characters in the MCU and just wants to do good on having those powers. She makes some huge mistakes that add to the wound she has as a character, but that all builds toward a great conclusion for her.

Rounding it out, Samuel L. Jackson feels more at home as Nick Fury here than he has in the past. He’s cracking jokes, hitting one-liners, and just kind of eating up the scenery. Kamala’s family adds a lot to the humor and charm of the film. They’re a nice addition to the formula.

What Doesn’t Work As Well In The Marvels?

Sadly, Zawe Ashton’s turn in the film as Dar-Benn falls a bit flat. Her role as a villain is all there, she’s trying to destroy the worlds that Captain Marvel knows and loves to make her own planet better, but it just feels a bit one note. She’s menacing, to a degree, but never really feels like as big of a threat as what she causes due to her meddling with the fabric of time and space. That takes over the story and makes her sort of an afterthought.

The film also doesn’t explain how Kamala, Carol, and Monica change around besides “if they use their powers, they swap places.” Well, it doesn’t go any deeper than that and ends up confusing as they use their powers, but don’t swap places. Captain Marvel can fly and sometimes shoot energy blasts, but at other times she swaps places after blasting a bad guy. It could have done better with a deeper explanation or even one that was simple as “if they use their right hand, they swap.”

What About The Visuals?

That’s an honest question to ask, considering the weaker visuals of recent Marvel movies. I didn’t notice anything that looked too terribly off or fake during the movie. It looks like the VFX artists got all of the effects done and looking sharp. At points during the movie, you can tell that they’re using The Volume or some similar technology, which makes the backgrounds look flat. I hope that Marvel stops using it because it makes the scenes look particularly hokey, but it’s few and far between in The Marvels.

The landscapes and costumes all look fantastic. The suits that The Marvels get at the end of the film are top notch, some of the best in the MCU. There are some striking visuals in The Marvels that show off just what Nia DaCosta can do as a director. It’s a testament to her ability that we got a coherent, entertaining, mostly confusion-free film.

The Marvels ends up as a strong film that doesn’t reinvent anything. It didn’t need to do that. If you go into the film expecting something entertaining and fun, that’s what you’ll get. It doesn’t have a lot of frills or unnecessary pieces to the narrative and it benefits from being briskly paced. The performances and action are the two best things about The Marvels. If you loved Captain Marvel, you’ll love The Marvels.

The Marvels releases in theaters on November 10th, 2023.

For more Reviews, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

Keep Reading: