Coinciding with the season 2 finale of Loki (here is our review of the second season of Loki), which will be exclusively distributed on the on-demand streaming platform Disney+ this Friday, the week is tinged with Marvel with the theatrical release for The Walt Disney Company’s new cinecomic The Marvels, Marvel Studios’ thirty-third film directed by director Nia Da Costa (grappling with a big-budget project for the first time since the horror saga’s good tie-sequel Candyman).
Set during the events of the Saga of the Multiverse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe now in its second Phase (in total we are at the Phase 5 of the project of Kevin Feige, should you need more coordinates to get your bearings), The Marvels is a curious quadruple crossover sequel that ties together the events of the box office champion Captain Marvel and TV mini-shows WandaVision, Ms Marvel and Secret invasion (the review of Secret Invasion is just a click away) and rediscover the respective protagonists Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris and Iman Vellani, assisted by the usual Samuel L. Jackson as the stainless Nick Fury.
The MacGuffin that triggers the plot and connects (literally) the three characters and their lives is a mysterious bracelet that, when activated, causes the powers of the three superheroines, based on the same energy source, to collide: as a result, each time they Captain Marvel, Ms Marvel or Monica use their own powers, one will take the place of the other wherever they are in the universe, in a continuous spatial switch that (in perfect Marvel style) from an initial source of trouble will first become a source of laughter and then a real highlight.
The Marvels: higher, wider, faster
The greatest merit of The Marvels is undoubtedly to be able to hold so many things together in such a short time: with about 105 minutes of running time (including credits: watch out for the post-credit scene right after the final theme song) the movie is the shortest ever in the history of the MCU – against the latest Hollywood bent now aimed at increasing the average length of its films, because contemporary audiences are accustomed to serial storytelling and to a different understanding of character development from that of two decades ago – and Nia Da Costa is good at discarding frills and always getting straight to the point.
Of course, The feeling of being faced with a blanket that is too short is evident: one can see The Marvels without having seen everything that came before because the characters are told and explained with just a few lines at the risk, however, of repeating information that is unnecessary for the most passionate and completist fans, but then again, these are the tradeoffs of such a vast narrative universe and thus open to the widest possible audience.
However, there is no shortage of good ideas: the power/body switch ploy works and gives way to action scenes with choreography that is anything but predictable and, from time to time, excellent ones like transforming Carol Danvers into a real-life Disney princess thanks to a planet that speaks only the language of musicals is a meta-narrative stunt that is nothing short of genius.
Let us gloss over the villain – the poor Zawe Ashton can’t do anythingwith a villain so one-dimensional and similar to a thousand others – and on the qualitative swing of the special effects, but Marvel fans (especially those of old, indeed very old date) cannot fail to be impressed by the final scene, which promises big things for the next chapters of the Multiverse Saga.