‘The Marvels’ Hints at a Female Future We’re all Here for

The Marvels
(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in "The Marvels." Photo Courtesy: Marvel Studios.

After a six-month hiatus, Marvel Studios gives us “The Marvels”— the female trio we’ve all been waiting for. A sequel to the billion-dollar blockbuster “Captain Marvel”, “The Marvels” is the family fun, inclusive, action-filled comedy that superhero cinema has needed.

[Read Related: Ms. Marvel’s Iman Vellani and Mohan Kapur Talk Cultural Pride, Hollywood and Brown Representation]

With a nearly all-female led cast “The Marvels” stars Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, Zawe Ashton and Samuel L. Jackson. 

An arguably non-traditional Marvel Comics film, “The Marvels” emphasizes teamwork, women empowerment, and how heroes don’t need to work alone, with a humorous twist. It gives depth to characters like Captain Marvel (Larson), who was criticized as lacking emotions in the film’s 2019 prequel, introduces Kamala Khan (Vellani) to the overall Marvel universe and artistically ties the X-Men to the Avengers with Monica Rambeau (Parris) — a moment and plot twist Marvel fans have been waiting for!

But that’s not all. Despite being the shortest film in the MCU so far, “The Marvels” has real-world resonance, touching on themes of climate crisis, refugees, war and depleting natural resources.

Filled with emotion and enthusiasm, “The Marvels” will have you crying, laughing and shocked at the natural chemistry between its three leading ladies. Perfectly paced, the film continues and connects the storylines of the characters from “Captain Marvel,” “Ms. Marvel” and “WandaVision.” For those who may not have seen all three, the film is still easy to follow — you just might not get all the easter eggs and references.


But DaCosta’s script, written with Megan McDonnell and Elissa Karasik, does an admirable job of getting audiences up to speed: Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, is an intergalactic icon, saving planets ever since she liberated herself from the fascistic Kree empire. Ms Marvel, aka Kamala Khan, is a New Jersey native, has a magical bangle and happens to be a Captain Marvel super-fan (she’s introduced here through an adorable bit of hand-drawn, animated fan fiction). Monica Rambeau, who shuns nicknames, is an astronaut and the daughter of Carol’s best friend, Maria (Lashana Lynch).

The film begins with the ending of the Disney+ series “Ms. Marvel” when Khan learns she can harness the cosmic energy of her Nani’s bangle and switches places with Captain Marvel or Carol Danvers.

We get an insight into the inner thoughts of all three women and follow their journey on how they establish and build relationships with one another. We also see another side to Captain Marvel as she literally watches memories taken from her including the last time she saw Rambeau. 

Vellani is outstanding in the film despite “The Marvels” being her first big screen moment. She is a complete natural with her perfectly-timed facial expressions and unintentionally comical comments throughout. In many instances, her scenes feel impromptu as opposed to scripted lines. Being familiar with her passion for Marvel outside the screen, seeing Vellani play Khan, an excited teen eager to meet Nick Fury, felt as though Vellani wasn’t really acting and instead just being herself.

The Marvels
Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in “The Marvels.” Photo Courtesy: Marvel Studios.

Khan also played a key role in humanizing Captain Marvel. In “The Marvels” we see Khan working to get behind Danvers’ guarded personality while also reminding viewers that heroes, too, are people and can make mistakes. 

“Captain Marvel will fix this — I promise,” Khan says, reassuring a child displaced from their home. As Danvers’ struggles to uphold the image of the hero she is expected to be, both Khan and Rambeau are depicted supporting her, as a group of empowered women should.

But Khan isn’t a supporting role. Throughout the film, we also follow Khan’s journey into becoming a real hero, a moment she craved from the beginning as depicted in her origin series Ms. Marvel.

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(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in “The Marvels.” Photo by Laura Radford.

Viewers like me are likely to be awestruck by the fight sequences. They are perfectly synced despite switching from one character to the next. The music choice depicts them even better with early fight scenes set to Missy Elliott’s “Ratata” featuring body-swap confusion and rhythmic flow as the trio crashes from outer space to Kamala’s house to Nick Fury’s S.A.B.E.R. space station. 

The family aspect of the film is what sets it apart from most Marvel movies. Khan’s family being involved in the film throughout, when they could’ve stepped away when she decided to pursue her space mission, is a refreshing change. It not only showcases diversity in the Marvel space but emphasizes her character’s closeness to her family and the importance they hold, similar to the relationship Spiderman’s Peter Parker has with his aunt May.

Vellani’s family brings not only a close-knit emotional presence to the film but also comedic relief similar to that found in “The Guardians” with the hilarious presence of characters like Muneeba Khan (Zenobia Shroff), Kamala’s mom. Muneeba’s iconic one-liners as a fearless mother make her more than just Kamala or a superhero’s mother. She even gets some fighting scenes of her own and can be seen as the protector of the family, often putting herself in harm’s way in place of others. She ensures Fury’s fear of Kamala not making it to high school graduation is not met.

The film’s use of Islamic verses and the Urdu language is also an exciting moment for South Asian and Muslim comic fans. Theories of “Are cats Muslims?” are exasperated with Goose’s liking of the Khan family’s Islamic scriptures and art — not to mention “cats” saving the day also being an Islamic easter egg. Most noteworthy though is the film’s positive portrayal of a Muslim family that breaks several stereotypes often depicted in other Disney films. It reminds viewers that Muslims are not only fans of the Marvel universe but everyday normal people like anyone else, with religion only being an aspect of their identity.

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(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan and Goose the Flerken in “The Marvels.” Photo Courtesy: Marvel Studios

While the film’s release has brought hate towards first-time Marvel director Nia DaCosta, her work should be applauded. Most of the accusations towards DeCosta reek of misogyny and racism with several reviewers having claimed the film is a win for teenage girls as opposed to comic book fans, alluding to the fact that “real fans” cannot be girls. 

[Read Related: Kamala Khan As ‘Ms Marvel’ Is The Greatest Thing To Happen To Pakistani-Muslim-Americans]

The film’s box office outlook has also been seen as negative with people failing to acknowledge its release during the SAG-AFTRA strike, which prevented cast members from promotions, and its record performance globally — $161 million in worldwide box office sales in just 10 days. 

“The Marvels” is an icon of its own, not to be compared with “Endgame” or other Marvel films, it’s a refreshing new take for the MCU reminding us that “The Future is Female.”

In theaters now:

For fans of: “Ms. Marvel,” cats, women empowerment, Brown and Black Girl Magic

Avoid if: You hate women and haven’t seen any of the previous Marvels-related projects. Don’t be a hater, though!

What to watch before:

Captain Marvel (2019)

WandaVision (2021)

Ms. Marvel (2022)

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By Aysha Qamar

Aysha Qamar is a writer, poet and advocate based in the tri-state area. She currently serves as BGM’s News and … Read more ›