'The Marvels': biblical wisdom from a franchise in crisis?

Where does this rank in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Film review of The Marvels – 2 out of 5 stars

Do you remember when Captain Marvel was on Star Trek, visited planets with bizarre creatures and eventually married a prince of a planet where everyone sings? Neither do I, but the latest Marvel film has pulled from the playbook of the old television series for its inspiration. I know – Star Trek isn’t part of the Disney portfolio. Still, this experience had the look and feel of this classic sci-fi series as opposed to the Marvel films of yesteryear.

Here is where we are up to within the storyline of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and her faithful trio of heroes. As the indestructible Avenger flies around the universe in her Crocs with the ever-faithful, fuzzy flerken, Goose, things are not right in the other parts of space.

Kree leader Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) has discovered a similar power band to that of Kamala Khan/Ms Marvel (Iman Vellani) on Earth. As the revenge-seeking leader looks to bring her planet back to its original glory, she unleashes a power that causes Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) to be linked. As they use their powers, they body swap with one another. This leads to the formation of the Marvel trinity, who must discover how to fix their unnerving connection and stop the Kree from destroying multiple worlds in their vengeful plans for Captain Marvel and the universe.

To call The Marvels a mess is an understatement.

Not only does writer/director Nia DaCosta sample from Star Trek, but there are references to Freaky Friday and unnerving musical displays in her storyline. The film struggles to establish its identity as it attempts to be a “girls night out, slumber party, therapy session” that never quite captures the innovation or imagination of the comic book characters it represents. To call it a mess is an understatement. After ruminating on it for a while after the screening, nothing about this movie got any better.

Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel is meant to have the powers of Superman and represent this type of character within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But one thing they should have written into this role was convincing confidence and charisma. You could blame some of this on Brie Larson, except she can only act upon what has been written, and the script is embarrassing for Captain Marvel.

This film proves the need for a “hard reset” of this franchise.

Sometimes these films can compensate for a poorly-written hero with a fantastic villain, but not this time. Dar-Been is an unknown quantity within this franchise, and she leaves us with more questions than answers about her villainous intent.

Then there is the awkward tension of the Monica Rambeau character, whose only reason for being in this film is to heighten the emotional tension and force us all to question the sexuality of Captain Marvel. Also, does anybody remember or care why she’s still angry at Carol Danvers? Come on, let it go, Monica; grudges held over decades are a bit sad to watch. Granted, Kamala Khan is the most appealing of characters – until her innocent shrieking of the excitement of meeting her hero hits its limits after the first act. Even her cute demeanour fails to make up for the challenges within the team and the movie.

The Marvels will end up topping the list of the worst films within the MCU. It may not have been as dull as Eternals or hopelessly bad as Thor: Love and Thunder; instead, it is merely a mess of a film that will struggle to make up for the downfall of the Marvel empire over recent years. What this film proves is that there is a need for a “hard reset” of this franchise; a need to start from scratch to rediscover the magic it once possessed.

Reel Dialogue: of all things to talk about … teamwork

Films like The Marvels make people ponder whether they work in a good team. This has been a premise throughout cinematic history, and these films show the felt need for solid teamwork. Why do we need this in the workplace?

King Solomon writes about the value of trusted friends and co-labourers in this manner: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

This is one encouraging passage amongst many that speaks to the value of solid teamwork and how God is the author of the beautiful gift to humanity called a team. Another passage:

“Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:15-20)

Russ Matthews works for City Bible Forum as the Product Manager for The Edge and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and getting conversations started on themes from these visual creations. This review first appeared on Third Space, and is republished with permission.

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