‘The Marvels’ review: a quirky cosmic caper that lacks punch

“I’m feeling so many feelings right now,” burbles Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms Marvel, in Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels, her likeable-if-limited entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This giddy gush of over-excitement, hero worship and teenage swooning comes when the Jersey City native gets entangled with her idol Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), and Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), the daughter of Danvers’ former co-pilot and best friend Maria.

This trio of superwomen have literally got their wires crossed, as their abilities to manipulate light mean that suddenly they are teleporting to where another of the three is at any given moment. It’s all to do with a bangle belonging to Khan’s nana, one of a pair. The other has been unearthed on a dusty moon by the menacing Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), a warrior now looking to avenge what’s happened to her beloved alien race, the Kree.

The best parts of The Marvels all come from Vellani, whose fangirling around Danvers (“twinsies”, as she calls them) is charming. Likewise, her Pakistani-American family – mother (Zenobia Shroff), father (Mohan Kapur) and brother Aamir (Saagar Shaikh) – are all along for the ride, bringing the same vibe of over-protective fussiness from Disney+ show Ms. Marvel, where Vellani’s Khan first appeared.

The Marvels
Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. CREDIT: Marvel Studios/Disney

One early fight scene where the three leads are teleporting from deep space to the Khans’ Jersey City domicile, swapping in and out and fending off two Kree thugs, is particularly well done. Khan’s dad even gets involved, using a mop to brush off the baddies. It’s at this point that The Marvels looks very promising, wiping away the early fears that the film would be a flop thanks to the extensive reshoots it went through.

It doesn’t quite pan out that way. Fresh Meat star Ashton is a competent and charismatic performer and as agile as Larson and co. when it comes to the well-choreographed combat. But she’s given little to do beyond adopting a demented look in her eyes. And her battle against Danvers (whom she dubs the “annihilator” for past troubles against the Kree) and rival extraterrestrial folk, the Skrulls, feels dog-tired and dull.

Still, in its favour, this has to be one of the quirkier MCU entries. Cat-lovers will more than get their fix thanks to Danvers’ moggy Goose – secretly a Flerken that has tentacles that spring out of its mouth and swallows things whole (people, plates, you name it). There’s also plenty of bouncing around the cosmos as new planets get introduced, including Aladna, a place where brightly coloured inhabitants communicate in song while under the rule of Prince Yan (Parasite’s Park Seo-joon).

As per, you also have three Marvel cameos (one in the mid-credits sting that’s worth sticking around for), plenty of Samuel L. Jackson’s eyepatch-sporting Nick Fury and even a dance number. But while DaCosta’s Candyman reboot was thrilling, this never musters the same level of engagement, despite a script that is chock full of good lines and a cast of willing participants. More meh than marvel, you might say.


  • Director: Nia DaCosta
  • Starring: Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani
  • Release date: November 10