PG-13 and even that is a bit extreme for this movie. There's some s-bombs. I guess we can't really expect a PG rating for this movie. But this one feels family friendly, even for a Marvel movie. There's all the punching and kicking and lo-key death that you'd see from one of these movies, but there's also a ton of heart. Because Ms. Marvel is aimed at younger audiences, the tone of the entire thing is open and fun. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Nia DaCosta
Two things I want to get out right in front, even before I start slowly unspooling these things. 1) The Marvels is an imperfect movie. 2) The pride in hating Marvel is stopping people from having a good time. Both of those statements can be true. Honestly, if you don't feel like reading a verbose blog about how much I enjoyed something despite its imperfections, you got the jist of it all. But if you really hate Marvel now after liking it up through Endgame, please give this blog a chance. I'm not going to change your mind. But I am going to appeal to you to be happy.
Okay, now that everything is out of order, I have to stress that I wasn't going to be writing this blog for at least a month. I've put more words on page this month and I can't believe I'm trying to find time to knock out a The Marvels blog. I haven't watched any movies during November just so I wouldn't have to give my blog the time of day. But I wasn't going to miss a Marvel movie, especially one that had Ms. Marvel in it. My kid loves Ms. Marvel. Her love for Ms. Marvel made me love Ms. Marvel. Yeah, Ms. Marvel is for younger audiences. But I also love that Marvel has something for everybody. I've been arguing with one of my former Marvel fangirls in my class. She was so deep into Marvel when I first started teaching her years ago. She had Marvel over everything. But now, she's Marvel's biggest detractor. It all comes down to the fatigue. Golly, I almost miss the days when people would go around spouting "Marvel" or "Superhero fatigue" whenever a Marvel movie came out. Now, people think that the quality of these movies has gone down. I'm going to argue that pretty hard.
I honestly will stand by and say that the Multiverse Saga has almost the same track record as the Infinity Saga. I just think that people really like ripping these movies apart. I'm sure that I've talked about this with other Marvel movies. But I also know that this might be my last time writing an MCU blog for a while. After all, the only MCU movie we're getting in 2024 is Deadpool 3, and that's almost going to be it's own thing, right? We got spoiled as an audience. Those early Marvel movies we're looking at through rose colored glasses. Those movies made us fall in love with Marvel because we hadn't seen anything like that before. But there's also an impossible expectation that Marvel keeps on pushing the envelope with every movie. Infinite progress is impossible. Kevin Feige, for all of his foibles (most notably not immediately recasting Jonathan Majors post allegations), has maintained a similar quality to his movies while sometimes pushing them in another direction.
The thing about The Marvels is that it felt the most like a Captain Marvel trade paperback. Kelly Sue DeConnick created a very specific tone for the Captain Marvel comics under her belt. They are simultanously grandiose space epics with just the right amount of oddball quirk to them. Nia DeCosta absolutely nailed what that vibe was supposed to be in this movie. It's a very bizarre movie. I never gets as weird as something like Guardians of the Galaxy, but I also didn't want it to be just another Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Instead, I was signed up for misfit team-ups in space. That's what I got. I will admit that every joke didn't work. But I'll tell you what. The hit/miss ratio on the jokes was still pretty darned impressive. I think I'm not alone in saying most of it came down to Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel. She's the perfect surrogate character for this world. It's shocking how I can't tell you the story of how Ms. Marvel was created, despite the fact that I know so much about it. I want to say G. Willow Wilson created her and she was meant to be both an opportunity to get a Muslim superhero on the page and provide a new Peter Parker for the 21st Century. What made Peter Parker such a great hero is that he was the audience that was reading the comics. Kids Peter's age were reading comics and imagining themselves as heroes. Kamala almost weaponizes that concept of acting as the avatar. She is a fangirl herself. Yet, she has this shorthand that is fantastic for a movie like this. As overwhelmed as she is about being in these superhero adventures, nothing needs to be explained to her.
It's just that I don't know why people are rooting against these movies. If I asked former Marvel fans why they're turning ship, I feel like they're going to give me a response about how the quality has dipped and that they don't want to support mediocre content. But I argue that it's just easier to hate these movies because this movie was incredibly fun. The worst thing I saw from Marvel in a while was the adjacent Secret Invasion, and even that was incredibly watchable. I know that I was ho-hum about Eternals, but I kind of want to give it another shot. I know I would at least enjoy watching it.
But that means I also have to be as objective as possible. As much as I loved the quirkiness and the fun of the movie, there's a hole in the film that needed to be filmed. I found it odd that The Marvels is such a short film compared to the other MCU films. It is actually less than an hour and the weird part is that the plot that needed to be explored is almost glossed over. There's this running thread between Carol and Dar-Benn. Dar-Benn and the rest of the Kree hate Captain Marvel. Part of it is because she turns on the Kree after they brainwashed her. But there's this sequence that we see from Dar-Benn's perspective showing Carol destroying the Supreme Intelligence. When she does this, she almost kills everyone on Hala. The clean water is somehow undrinkable, the air becomes unbreathable, and the sun has only just enough power to support life. Hala becomes a hell and Carol doesn't seem all that unphased by this. If I was to point something nerdy like this out, it reminds me of John Stewart and his accidental destruction of a planet. But with John Stewart, it haunted him. It became the definining trait of the character. Carol only feels a little bad. I thought that meant that Dar-Benn was either intentionally or unintentionally misunderstanding what she saw. But no, that happened. Maybe half-an-hour of a little character development in terms of this might have helped.
But the biggest fault of the movie might be the third act. I'm not really sure what the Quantum Bands do. From what I remember from the Ms. Marvel TV show, the bangle that Kamala receives actually just awoke mutant powers in her. But the bangle itself is tied to her powers somehow, right? If it wasn't, which clearly seems to be the case, why didn't they leave the bangle on Earth? They were also really concerned about Kamala getting too close to Dar-Benn because she has the bangle. Also, what is Carol's power set? When Carol shows up in the finale of Endgame, she wrecks the place. She's the greatest threat to Thanos single-handedly. It seems like Dar-Benn isn't nearly as strong as Carol was at the end of Endgame. I know. This is a typical thing. The same thing happens with Superman stories. It seems like Clark Kent can shift the planet with his pinky, yet when some bad guy of the week comes along, he gives Superman a hard time. It's that kind of stuff.
But I didn't hate it. It felt incredibly self-contained and, even though it contained a threat to destroy Earth (thus, of global proportions), it felt like a really small story of three families getting to know each other. I had a lot of fun with it. I'll watch this one over and over again. I loved the cats. I know a lot of people would hate the cat sequence. I also really loved the musical planet. Again, I just know that people hate this stuff now. It's like people hate fun. I don't hate fun. I like fun. This movie was super fun.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.