The Marvels is phenomenally woman-focused, witty, and action-packed. And it’s fair to say that everyone brought their A-game for this film, especially Ms. Marvel because we are all Kamala Khan. I mean it. Our site name quite literally embodies Kamala’s energy — Fangirlish. And it wouldn’t be possible without director Nia DaCosta, who brilliantly allows our heroes to be their true, authentic selves while navigating difficult and harrowing situations.
Before we truly get into this review, it’s important to note while the film may not embody the same energy that more traditional Marvel movies have, it’s important to note that in the newer phases of Marvel, the energy will embody that of its superheroes. It’s also important to note that the film is woman-driven, which should not be considered a problem in 2023.
The newer generation of superheroes are younger, more awkward, and have idolized the seasoned vets without actually understanding the sacrifice and pain that goes into saving the world(s). They are bubbly, full of hope, and lighter. Ergo, their movies are going to embody that same energy. I mean, if the ending is any indication, awkward meets awkward.
To me, the film’s energy is following the phases, and it’s fair to say that nothing can rival the old days, but that’s the point. We are moving forward, and things will change. If anything the newer films address issues the old ones never did, such as more complex relationships and antagonists. It also seems like the MCU phases are tying in mutants and bringing us full circle if that post-credit scene is any indication. It’s fair to say the gasps were VERY audible in the theatre.
Now, let’s break down all the thoughts and feelings around The Marvels phenomenal heroes!
The Power of Three
Kamala, Monica, and Carol are a trio I never knew I needed. In two hours, they went from the most out-of-sync, galactically intertwined group to the most cherished of relationships. To me, each one of the Marvels represents a stage of being a superhero.
Kamala is hope. She is hell-bent on saving everyone and has not been subject to the mess of this universe. She is bubbly and fun and brings a fresh perspective and enthusiasm to the team. Monica is reality because she has seen the good and the bad and knows where the balance lies. Carol is isolated because she believes she has seen and done too much and feels that others should not be like her.
While we are all Kamala Khan when we see Captain Marvel and Captain Rambeau, the film has a moment of acknowledgment where Kamala realizes that Carol is human and needs space to be human. Carol and Monica even push through their aloofness and begin understanding their absence in each other’s lives. They all lean on each other and allow each other the grace and the space to thrive.
In fact, Carol, Monica, and Kamala have a unique bond that reminds both Carol and Monica of that aunt/niece relationship. Monica and Carol look out for Kamala and are so soft and kind to her. They never make her feel like an outsider but protect her like no one else can. If you didn’t melt when Monica said, “Kamala, baby, we can hear you,” I MEAN CMON.
It’s even more heartbreaking when Monica sacrifices her reality to close the jump-point because they are so interconnected by the end. They were a found family who workshopped their powers, teased each other about code names, and allowed Carol to have a whole ship again. They poked fun at each other, and they leaned on each other. They even appealed to each other when tough choices had to be made, giving us new dynamics rarely presented in the MCU when it comes to women superheroes.
Finally, we are able to see our women heroes take center stage instead of a backseat. We see the men (Nick Fury) rely on them to bring it home and save the day. Alongside other movies and shows like Black Widow and She-Hulk, hopefully, The Marvels is a sign of changing times where we see more of the women we wished to see back when all of this started with Iron Man, but in the now and saving the day. Because it honestly feels like a dream to get such a strong dynamic of women heroes being put into this unapologetic position.
Nobody pinch me, if it’s a dream I don’t wanna wake up.
The Unapologetic Culture
There are so many subtle nods to the Muslim and South-Asian cultures in this film, without any whitewashing or excessive explaining. And they manage to find a way to unite all the characters in these cultural moments with an ease that feels natural. From Nick Fury telling Amir to continue praying to Kamala’s mom threatening to kill anyone if anything happens to her daughter, it’s fair to say that the family brings the laughs (and authenticity).
One particular piece of symbolism was when Kamala was told to use her scarf to help her fight in battle. A scarf is customary to many Muslims and a part of almost all South-Asian dresses. This scene essentially told Kamala that her superpower was in her true self and culture; it pushes against the narrative that a scarf is oppressive or weak. She also prayed before she did anything, and when I say that is 100% accurate, I mean it. For example, a big test? You go from studying to saying you’ll study in the morning to reciting a prayer before the test.
There are also the subtle moments of overprotective parents, slightly intrusive questions, and suggestions such as Amir raising a family in the house in Louisiana. Also, apparently, Nick Fury knows some Hindi because he can identify the word “hell.” Again, this family and these characters are so relatable, especially to me. And it’s truly a gift for us girlies to see Kamala’s cultural background being seamlessly woven into a superhero story because stories like hers are never showcased in mainstream media. It’s made even better by the fact that she never loses touch with herself and who she is along the way.
From language to looks and actions to symbols, the movie carefully and intricately ties a typical Muslim family in a very not-so-normal situation whilst staying true to the culture close to many people’s hearts. Also, yes Kamala, those bangles are yours. Don’t let anyone take away your power. They are what you were meant for and what purpose you were meant to achieve.
Dar-Benn is Not TRULY A Villain
Yes, Dar-Benn makes horrible choices, and she believes she is enacting revenge on the people who hurt the innocents of Hala. But if you’ve heard the phrase, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” you would understand that Dar-Benn cared about her people to the point of becoming what she loathed.
She didn’t hesitate momentarily when questioned if her life had to go to give the people of Hala a new dawn at every turn within this story. She willingly and gladly fought a battle that would restore her home. In the end, it’s what she did. She died and fought for the people around her and for the people who were done wrong.
Captain Marvel made a choice that ended up costing many people their homes on Hala. And while revenge is never the best form of justice, we can understand why Dar-Benn could only see Carol as the villain. If anything, I’m glad the people of Hala finally got their home restored. It also warrants a note that Monica was the brains behind the idea, and she also closed a rip in time and space, making her a hero in her own right.
Ultimately, Zawe Ashton beautifully played the complexity of Dar-Benn and the true feelings of someone impacted by war. Her emotions and the layers of her character were a beauty to watch. And Kamala said it perfectly when she described Dar-Benn as terrifying yet beautiful. Because for me, she wasn’t a villain, so much as someone extremely complex and traumatized by the tragedies she had experienced.
Dar-Benn deserved the chance at redemption and the chance to be with the people she ultimately saved. She fought for them, and she is the reason they felt the sun; they can breathe because of her. Dar-Benn to me was never heartless, if anything she was heartbroken. And while I would have wished to see redemption, I appreciate that Captain Marvel doesn’t become the hero for Hala but that Dar-Benn dies a hero for her people and gives Captain Marvel the chance to right her wrongs.
More than anything, The Marvels showcases friendships between women that allow characters to stay true to themselves while also advancing the hero narrative in an authentic way. The film also showcases the real effects of those harmed by others’ mistakes and that pain is never one-sided. And as someone who sees herself in Kamala and these women, this film represents my dreams of having a superhero who is as bubbly, quirky, and awkward as me whilst also representing my faith and culture.
Whether it’s on Earth or up in space, The Marvels are a pretty good team. Witty, fun, and such an important story to tell, embodying higher, further, faster.
Honourable Mentions We Can’t Stop Thinking About:
- The Khan’s house being DEMOLISHED.
- The way Monica talks to Kamala throughout the entire film. She was just so kind.
- MONICA FLYING. LIKE SOMEONE HAND HER THE CROWN. Also, Fury was just a wonderful hype man at this moment.
- Carol stopping Kamala from fangirling at first.
- All the scenes on Carol’s ship
- Carol jumps on the bandwagon to find Monica a code name.
- Kamala being the most precious soul, and also bonding with Nick Fury almost instantly
- All the scenes with Nick Fury and Kamala’s family
- Valkyrie. That’s it. That’s the point.
- Also, all the Flerkens. So. Many. Flerkens. And they ate everyone.
- CAROL DANVERS BEING MARRIED. I kid you not when Park Seo-joon came on screen, the first words out of my mouth were “DAMN”
- Monica and Kamala dancing off to the side and laughing at Carol; also the fanfiction mention *chef’s kiss*
- Kamala calling Dar-Benn beautiful- like yes, you are correct. If villain then why gorgeous?
- Nick Fury stretching out his back like a man who just drove 7 hours on a road trip after crash landing from space
- Kamala recruiting Kate Bishop (or at least trying to) is everything
- Kamala settling down in New Orleans, and exploring the plane with Carol made my heart gush
- Monica waking up you know where and seeing you know who (I am not spoiling the end-credit scene. not. a. chance.)
The Marvels was released in theatres on November 10, 2023.