The Marvels, directed by Nia DaCosta (Candyman - 2021) from her script with Megan McDonnell (WandaVision) and Elissa Karasik (Loki), blasts onto the big screen to finally unite Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel as a pseudo-team. The story is good if rushed in places, making for a better tale than the first and showing great promise for the future of the characters.
Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) has returned to her life as an average teenager, mostly, doing homework and writing fan-girl stories about her idol, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). But when the Kree zealot-leader Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) takes possession of a powerful artifact that happens to be the twin of Kamala's bracelet from her grandmother, the two find themselves in a predicament. Simultaneous use of their powers makes them switch places with each other and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who has a similar power basis to theirs. As Dar-Benn becomes more powerful, the three must learn to contend and work with this while also coming to terms with their personal fears and hurt. Not doing so will be disastrous because Dar-Benn is determined to save her people and take revenge on Carol and all she loves.
The script is much more solid than that of Captain Marvel, with Carol having much more to learn without seeming to know everything about the superhero game automatically. This evolution is accentuated by the fact that both Kamala and Monica have much to learn about their powers, too. This feature, combined with the humorous elements, makes for an improved film. The story does have one major drawback: the entire basis of the villainess Dar-Benn has minimal exposition, making for a confusing story initially. Viewers might feel they need to catch up on a film or limited series that would fill in the blanks, eventually having to settle for a truncated version of Dar-Benn's hatred and why the Kree call Carol, “the Annihilator.” Still, there's enough of a mix of Avengers seriousness and Guardians of the Galaxy low humor to make the tale entertaining. Larson shoes growth as Carol, and Vellani remains absolutely fantastic as Ms. Marvel.
Despite the story situation where the fight scenes could have been incredibly confusing, the special effects team does a wonderful job keeping the action focused and understandable. As with many Marvel films, there's a lot of alien scenery, and even more alien races, all conveyed realistically. The costumes are equally exotic and beautiful. Often, a soundtrack can make or break a film, and in the case of The Marvels, the music is well-chosen, especially for the scenes that are focused around songs.
While not among the best of the Marvel Character Universe films, The Marvels is a better entry than some and overall above average. A sneak peek at Dar-Benn's background beforehand would help but would, unfortunately, give too much away, leaving far less to marvel at in the end.