Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani joined forces for the long-awaited sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel, which was teased as being one of the most important movies for the narrative building in the Multiverse Saga.
But with widely mixed reviews from critics, many fans didn't feel the sequel lived up to expectations, with several specific problems being pointed out.
The Marvels' Biggest Criticisms
Warning - the rest of this article contains major spoilers for The Marvels.
Weak Main Villain
While many were eagerly awaiting Zawe Ashton's introduction into the MCU as Dar-Benn, her character and her performance left much to be desired for some, especially taking into account the MCU's past troubles with villains.
Many described her character as forgettable compared to past antagonists, with nothing in her arc that made her stand out on her own against The Marvels' core hero trio.
Specifically, Dar-Benn's plight to bring the Kree planet Hala back to its former glory did not connect with viewers, particularly with not much insight into her origins and the fact that there weren't any deeper reasons for her actions.
Sticks Too Much to the MCU Formula
While Iman Vellani and Teyonah Parris added something new to the story, their inclusions were not enough to take away from the fact that this sequel wasn't easy to follow for those who don't actively keep tabs on every MCU release.
Serving as a sequel to five other MCU movies and Disney+ series, there is a lot of legwork to do for a movie that doesn't do very much to make itself stand out storywise from any of its 32 theatrical predecessors.
There are many of the same kinds of jokes, plot beats, and strategy used here as there was in most past MCU movies, with its highly decorated cast unable to do much to separate that story from the pack. The structure of the film boils down to what many Marvel movies are guilty of: a quip-filled adventure that leads to a big punch-up in the final moments.
Even with some fresh new moments like the massive Flerken invasion, it wasn't enough to truly make The Marvels that memorable.
Many felt that The Marvels brought those back into the forefront, particularly with scenes that featured Carol Danvers flying through the air and anything with a digital backdrop like the intergalactic locales utilized.
Some critics pointed out that Marvel simply put a glowing outline around Captain Marvel to help offset some of those issues in the flying scenes, and others complained about the power effects for Kamala Khan and Monica Rambeau as well.
This was amplified by the fact that the story felt somewhat rushed with a runtime of only 1 hour and 45 minutes, with the CGI-heavy scenes taking up much of that runtime and impacting viewers negatively in the grand scheme of this sequel.
Seeing as this is far from the only project that incited fan complaints about CGI work, it only emphasizes the work Marvel Studios needs to do to get back to the quality that was seen in the Infinity Saga.
With The Marvels bringing the same kind of humor seen in nearly every MCU film to date, many saw that as a negative as the sillier tone clashed so heavily with the sequel's more serious moments.
The biggest example of this is the scenes that feature the three leading heroines together, with Kamala being the excitable and mostly humorous part of the equation while Monica is working through a more serious arc of overcoming resentment with Carol.
Couple this with some harsh lessons that Ms. Marvel has to learn in the movie, and moments like Kamala having to live with the tough consequences of not being able to save everybody during the trio's trip to Tarnax can come off a bit grim in a tale that is aiming to be a fun, space-faring adventure.
On the flip side, the comedy, while fun, can overstay its welcome. Gags like the singing citizens of Aladna were deemed a bit too silly for some critics' liking, taking up runtime that could have been used to further flesh out the dramatic elements of the movie to make them more emotionally resonant.
But with the short runtime not allowing for either tone to truly get the time needed to marinate and settle in during the story, the rushed nature of the movie only further highlighted the tonal differences through its most prominent characters.
Pandering to Women
Although Marvel Studios has made a good deal of progress in putting female superheroes in the MCU spotlight, parts of The Marvels felt to be pandering in the wrong places and did not engage the way it could have with a female point of view.
This was particularly concerning after director Nia DaCosta accused Avengers: Endgame of doing just that during its A-Force team-up scene, with the film's fight sequences mostly looking like a struggle to grab an item rather than a full-fledged battle.
Many times, it felt as though the demands of the MCU to have epic fight sequences and fun action overtook DaCosta's ambition to put female heroes in the spotlight they deserve and show them in a way that represented women more authentically.
Some critics took issue with The Marvels' action sequences portraying the female heroes as infallible and possessing unwavering beauty even amid their fierce battles, with the movie failing to address any flaws or struggles that may befall them in such a situation.
Others felt that the overall stakes of the film felt reductive for a movie intended to be centered around uplifting women. With other 2023 movies like Barbie, Bottoms, and more telling compelling stories about female empowerment, The Marvels' narrative leaves to be desired in terms of its feminist messaging.
So What Worked in The Marvels?
Even for The Marvels' issues, there was plenty to enjoy about the MCU's latest movie. More than anything else, most of the film's cast put forth performances that resonated with viewers, with fans especially gravitating towards young Iman Vellani as she shined in her very first big-screen movie.
The humor also landed well with many as the film's writers made the three leads and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury genuinely funny, along with Kamala Khan's family grounding the story as fans found themselves relating to their reactions.
To close, many were thrilled to see the film's post-credits scene bring Kelsey Grammar's Hank McCoy/Beast back into the fray alongside a new take on Maria Rambeau, setting up some wild events across the Multiverse as worlds get set to collide.
The Marvels is now playing in theaters worldwide.