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The Marvels (2023) Review

The current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has remained questionable, creating content for a misunderstood audience and avoiding meeting the demands of once-loyal moviegoers who anticipated each major release. Marvel Studio's misguided interpretation of how their endless Phases should fare on screen has been met with underwhelming execution and poor screenwriting. The sequel to the 2109 Brie Larson-led Captain Marvel commits the same crimes as the current offerings from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The Marvels didn't have much of a marketing campaign due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA Strike, yet that shouldn't stop Marvel from pandering to its femme audience by dangling the stereotype of "women love cats!" over their heads. It's one thing for Marvel Studios to continue their mission of creating femme-forward media. Still, it also feels far too late in the game for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to shift directions regarding its hierarchy. Marvel's efforts to promote "girl power" don't exactly engage with one concrete aspect of feminity, and group gendered assumptions made together in hopes that they'll be able to pass it off as a power play.

Nia DaCosta's snappy direction keeps The Marvels' brief runtime moving at a swift pace and allows the movie to enjoy itself along the way. While it's a fun, casual watch, The Marvels cannot sell itself on quality when it comes down to narrative cohesiveness. "Silliness" and "superheroes" don't always work well together, and The Marvels should have reconsidered how it distributed its weight between drama and humor. It's truly Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel that pays off the price of admission alone, and The Marvels is a considerable win for diversity in the superhero film genre. It's a shame the plot was undercooked and the central villain was unable to impact the MCU on a greater scale. Zawe Ashton's Dar-Benn might be one of the MCU's most forgettable antagonists to date. The Marvels had every potential right to be interesting if it were developed a bit more, and Marvel cut out the ongoing formulaic comedy that's worn itself incredibly thin. However, this Captain Marvel sequel tries its hardest to be genuine, lighthearted, and warm. The Marvels hosts characters and performances that are engaging enough to offset everything left desired by Marvel Studios' latest cinematic outing.

If anything, The Marvels weaves together a disjointed yet light story of compassion and self-reflection, recognizing that violent actions indeed do have consequences. Fanservice to its core, this inclusive chapter in Captain Marvel's story is a movie made for fangirls. It's too bad that The Marvels couldn't go higher, further, faster. 5/10.

*There is one mid-credit scene.*

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