The release of the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – “The Marvels” – was delayed several months because more scenes had to be shot to help explain the story. Those were wasted months as the final version of the film is a mangled, bloated, jumbled mess that only the most devoted fan of Marvel movies will be able to fathom.
What tries to serve as a plot has Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) – who is also known as Captain Marvel – dealing with the aftermath of taking revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. The unintended consequences begin to destabilize the universe and threaten billions of lives.
That’s a big enough challenge but complicating matters is that Captain Marvel’s powers have become entangled with Jersey City giggly super-fan, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) who is known as Ms. Marvel. Her character was introduced in the series on the streaming service Disney+.
Also in the power mix is Carol’s estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). She was seen getting her powers during the Disney+ streaming series “WandaVisiion.”
The fact the three heroes switch places with each other when one uses their powers means the three must find a way to work together to stop the latest universe threat in Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton).
“The Marvels” was doomed from the start by bringing together the generally serious world of “Captain Marvel” with the juvenile “Ms. Marvel.” Kamala’s endless optimism coupled with her obsession with Captain Marvel keeps dragging the film into a comedy element that isn’t done well enough to make the movie a satire. “Ms. Marvel” worked on its own but trying to force her character into a more serious scenario only comes across as painful.
The script by Megan McDonnell, Nia DaCosta, Elissa Karasik and Zeb Wells is a grab bag of unrelated scenes cobbled together with a thin plot. The film starts with a serious threat to the universe but then drifts into a major musical production number on a planet where people communicate through song. That sounds more like an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” than a Marvel movie.
Then there is the endless sequence where the three heroes test their place swapping abilities. It is a training montage that is planned for goofy laughs in the middle of a story where a major villain is causing problems.
The topper comes with the scene where everyone is literally heading cats to the tune “Memory” from the stage production “Cats.” This might make a fun meme but ends up being a lousy moment in the film.
Director Nia DeCosta has so little control of the film that even the laws of physics and comics are ignored. It has been established that Captain Marvel is not impacted by the elements of space but her other two cohorts in crime fighting should have died countless times in the vacuum of space.
Even the element of the three switch places is not constant. There are times when one of the three will use their powers and there is no swap. Pick an idea and stick with it.
What is most disappointing is that this sequel to 2019’s “Captain Marvel” should have been a continuation of establishing the character as Marvel’s answer to DC’s “Wonder Woman.” The first film had Captain Marvel presented as a strong and determined woman. This film turns her into a punchline for bad jokes (including an incredibly awful moment in the big dance number).
Despite the delays and reshoots, “The Marvels” fails to be the major push to establish a strong female-driven team-up. The only thing weaker than the script are the special effects moments. The movie comes across as rushed – despite all the extra time – from words to images.
If you opt to see the film, keep in mind there is a secret scene during the closing credits that offers a glimpse into where the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going. No matter what course it takes, if it gets away from the disastrous “The Marvels” it has to be better.
Cast: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Samuel L. Jackson, Zawe Jackson.
Director: Nia DeCosta
Rated: PG-13 for language, violence, action scenes
Running time: 105 minutes.