After watching The Marvels you really wonder who MCU’s audience is supposed to be for the next era of – what up to this point – has been one of the most successful cinematic franchises ever.
The sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, The Marvels has a plot only IMDB can describe, because it’s so convoluted:
“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.”
Unlike a normal sequel, to fully understand The Marvels you have to watched three spin-off series in the meantime: Wandavision, Ms. Marvel and Secret Invasion. Even then the storyline feels a little vacant, and as Variety Magazine put it earlier this year, “the demands of churning out so much programming [has] taxed the Marvel apparatus.
“The need to tease out an interwoven storyline over so many disparate shows, movies and platforms create[s] a muddled narrative that baffle[s] viewers.”
Aside from struggling narratively, The Marvels points to an evolution in the superhero genre that reflects changing social dynamics which filmmakers are yet to master.
Since Iron Man first came out in 2008, audiences have begun to demand more of their on-screen heroes. We want strong female characters alongside bulky men in tights (now that’s a movie worth watching) and movies that understand the real world we’re watching them in, not just the imagined universes they occupy.
The trouble is, while The Marvels delivers us a diverse girl-gang it puts women at the fore at time where the franchise’s overall structure is weaker. The writing paints Kamala Khan as a fumbling superfan only and not a legitimate hero in her own right, Carol is emotionally mute, and Monica seems concerned about something you’re not following.
In the end, you have women at the helm of what feels like a scatterbrained sinking ship. Sorry ladies. Shame “your time” didn’t arrive until now.
Also, if the fault of entertainment up until now is that it was “all white men”, then the fault of The Marvels is that there are no men. Nick Fury hangs about, Ms. Marvel has a brother, but they’re relegated to the background in the same way women have been.
Why have we decided “female power” means male invisibility?
Which leads to another question, who is this movie for?
If original Marvel fans are “ageing out”, the women on screen aren’t well rounded and blokes are wondering where they fit, who is enjoying this?
Sadly, The Marvels leaves us with heroes we struggle to care about, have far less investment in and who have a big load to carry if they’re going to turn this ship around.
DC, make your move.
The Marvels is in cinemas now.