Spoilers for ‘The Marvels’
The last Marvel movie I saw, at home or in theaters, was Spider-Man: No Way Home. Before that, I’d seen every Marvel movie and every Marvel television series, but I didn’t run out to see Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness despite my love of Sam Raimi, and I never felt a strong tug to do so. Once you miss one, it gets easier to ignore more. I skipped Thor: Love and Thunder because the reviews were terrible, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever because I wasn’t as interested after the loss of Chadwick Boseman, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania because, again, the reviews were terrible and I don’t love Paul Rudd that much. I had some interest in watching Guardians 3, but once you miss a few, it’s easier not to watch, and I had no interest in doing all the homework presumably required to catch up.
This weekend, however, I watched The Marvels for a few reasons. First, Captain Marvel my favorite Marvel movie; Ms. Marvel is one of my favorite Marvel characters (even if I didn’t love the series), and Wandavision was one of my favorite Marvel series. But mostly, I saw the box-office projections, and, despite my superhero fatigue, I was pissed that audiences decided to entirely abandon the MCU for a movie starring Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani that Nia DaCosta directed. I watched it out of spite, even knowing that my $12.50 was not going to make a difference in the final weekend box office tally.
I didn’t love The Marvels. TK summed up my feelings: Great characters, but the plot was a mess. Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel are terrific together, and there were some fantastic sequences, including their visit to the planet that communicates through song. Also, Kamala Khan’s parents were a nice touch. I also think that Ms. Marvel should be in every MCU movie. Iman Vellani brings the same charm and enthusiasm to the MCU that Tom Holland does.
The stinger at the end of the film suggests that Ms. Marvel could have a larger role in the MCU moving forward, although I’m afraid of how Kevin Feige might respond to the disappointing box office of The Marvels. If you’ve read Joanna’s book, you know that Kevin Feige fought to introduce more diversity into the MCU and eventually won, but I worry that Feige will now take the wrong lessons from The Marvels. It didn’t fail because it was female-led. It didn’t fail because of the people of color in front of and behind the camera. It failed because the script wasn’t great, audiences were already tired of Marvel movies, and it didn’t get the promotion necessary to break $50 million.
The end credits scene (and the mid-credits scene) could go a long way toward reversing MCU fatigue. The end credits scene sees Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel meeting with the new Hawkeye, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), with a plan to recruit her and Ant-Man’s daughter, Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), to form the Young Avengers. They are a legitimately exciting way ahead for the MCU.
The mid-credits scene, meanwhile, gives Ms. Marvel, Kate Bishop, and Cassie Lang a problem to solve: The end of the film sees Monica Rambeau stuck in an alternate reality where Maria Rambeau is still alive, only she’s a version of Captain Marvel (Binary) and does not have a daughter. Also, the X-Men exists — or at least, Hank McCoy/The Beast (Kelsey Grammer) does. I don’t love The X-Men movies, and I’m kind of tired of alternate realities, to be honest, but I would watch a film where Ms. Marvel, Kate Bishop, and Cassie Lang retrieve Monica Rambeau from a reality where the X-Men exist. I assume that’s how Deadpool/Wolverine will also be introduced into the MCU.
I’m not a huge superhero movie fan or a comic book nerd, but I don’t think anyone needs to be to feel excited about the possibility of new blood, the reintroduction of the X-Men in whatever form they take, and a world where Maria Rambeau is Captain Marvel (or someone like Captain Marvel). That’s a way to get people like me back into theaters to watch MCU films. Meanwhile, taking an extended break — there’s only one MCU movie in the next year and a half, Deadpool 3 — will also give us time to miss the MCU.