HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) – The Marvels is the thirty-third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the second movie to feature Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Directed by Nia DaCosta, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, and Samuel L. Jackson round out the cast. Zawe Ashton plays the film’s villain, a Kree militant who tries to avenge the destruction of her planet. Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau (Parris), and Kamala Khan (Vellani) are forced to team up to stop her after their powers are mysteriously joined, causing them to switch places any time they use them.

At this point, the MCU is in a bit of a doldrums after the success of Avengers: Endgame (2019). Of course, there was a spike in enthusiasm with Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), and creatively, I liked Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) and the conclusion to the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy (2022), but the cultural cachet of the MCU has faded since the Avengers: Endgame peak, and we’ve been looking for a spark that might reignite enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, The Marvels is not the spark that returns the MCU to greatness, but that is not to say that it’s a bad movie. Judged in a vacuum, outside the expectations of the franchise’s heights, The Marvels would be an enjoyable comic space adventure with some mid-level action sequences and high-level production quality.

Larson and Parris turn in solid performances, but the delightful, the effervescent, the bundle of positive energy that is Iman Vellani is the film’s acting highlight. Debuting on her own series on Disney+, Ms. Marvel, Vellani’s Kamala Khan idolizes Captain Marvel and provides a childlike enthusiasm to the characters’ dynamic. Vellani doesn’t just steal every scene that she’s in; she steals every shot that she’s in.

One problem with The Marvels is the stakes feel low for the characters. I don’t need every Marvel movie to threaten the world or the universe or multiple universes – even though it’s no surprise that The Marvels eventually does – but for the characters, this seemed like it was just another day at the office and less compelling than other superhero films.

Also, the power levels particularly of Captain Marvel scale to whatever the plot needs. In Avengers: Endgame she went toe to toe with Thanos, but The Marvels’ villain is underpowered in comparison and able to hold her own against Captain Marvel and her two teammates. There is little consistency in Captain Marvel’s abilities, and it all seems more convenient for the story than a natural extension of the characters.

The Marvels is better than a lot of MCU entries, but it’s nowhere near the top of the list. For MCU fans, it remains necessary viewing despite it failing to provide the spark the franchise needs. 

As a PSA: the first post-credits sequence is important, but nothing consequential occurs during the second post-credits scene.