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SMR 475: The Marvels

Rod and Karen review the latest entry in the MCU, “The Marvels.” We also discuss your feedback to previous reviews and how box office conversations are taking over movie criticism.



    Pretty fun film led from the charming energy of Iman Vellani. If this film had more marketing time & both strikes were ironed out sooner, she alone sells this, because she’s just that affable & fun. Not to say that Brie Larson & Teyonah Parris can’t sell this, they can, but t. For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed them, as well. Wish Zawe Ashton’s Dar-Benn had more characteristics that made her a much imposing threat. She certainly had the potential from a range standpoint & director Nia DiCosta made her look sweet on planet Aladna with that walk towards the ship before fighting The Marvels directly but there’s not much of that with her. Film’s really about the journey of three light-powered women working together. The plot could’ve provided more but more of these should be like this going forward. Save your 2+ hour endeavors for the bigger films with bigger conflicts. It’s under two hours. It moves at a good pace, it’s well-directed and it’s one of Marvel Studios best choreographed movies in this phase not named Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. It’s an all-round good time. Also enjoyed both last credit scenes. Beast CGI looks fucking good.

    Y’all made some excellent points about how movies have become like sports teams. Team originality, Team IP, Team “death of cinema”, etc, etc. Twitter & cinephiles (& I’ll even put myself here) exacerbate the trends of the industry. There’s too much punditry that even my ass is tired of this shit. Variety propagating against Marvel Studios & Nia DiCosta was absolutely fucked up & just thirsting for starved content because of the strikes. Forgot to mention how reeking of Misogynoir it was in regards to Nia, because directors before her been doing projects X & Y mid-films for years. Spielberg did it in ’93 with Jurassic Park & Schindler’s List.

    Using The Marvels as “the end of the MCU” has been more exaggerated than Joe Biden needing to step for a younger person for president & movies as an art form dying has been exaggerated, as well. Box office BEEN struggling since 2020.
    It’s actually nuts that Marvel films until The Marvels were making decent to great money until The Marvels (You guys, an Eternals movie made $400M worldwide in a pandemic and people want to throw “fatigue” in my face? Fuck outta here. Marvel Studios will be fine.) COVID happened, habits were changing before then, inflation is kicking our asses. Maybe theaters shouldn’t make ticket prices be $15-20?

    And to be fair to The Marvels, the fact it did what it did post-writers strike, ain’t half bad, all things considered. People seem to like it, if not outright love it. The actors got to promote what they could and that’s all you could ask for. Iman had the right answer for whether this film makes the money back: “I don’t want to focus on something that’s not even in my control, because what’s the point? That’s for Bob Iger. [The box office] has nothing to do with me. I’m happy with the finished product, and the people that I care about enjoyed the film. It’s genuinely a good time watching this movie, and that’s all we can ask for with these films. It has superheroes, it take place in space, it’s not that deep and it’s about teamwork and sisterhood. It’s a fun movie, and I’m just so happy that I can share it with people.” She gave a textbook answer. Ain’t shit she can do about it. She ain’t gotta deal with insufferable, soul-sucking shareholders, Bob does.

    Barbenheimer was a once in a lifetime event, which still had the benefit of writers & actors promoting still until the day of the strikes and once that shit ended, despite a few over performances, this is what the experience has been in theaters. And even that was about the money than the substance of the astute material given from both movies; you know, what we actually go to the movies for. Now, I’ve actually been interested in how a movie makes a profit since 1999, so this isn’t new for me. When Bowfinger featured two of my favorite comedians in Eddie Murphy & Steve Martin together, it was fucking kismet (& Heather Graham, my goodness!). Eddie playing two characters & Martin playing a pass his prime director needing was something to behold back then. It did well but the financial success for Universal Pictures & Imagine Entertainment (Ron Howard’s producing arm with Brian Grazer) was besides the point, I saw it three times as a child & I have pleasant memories of it. Still do. The Kung-Fu shit at the end aged like dogwater, but never once did I ever think about the financial aspects of the movie. It was also a simpler, less cynical time, too. People gotta throw Movie X isn’t going to do well because of whatever the reason. You can throw that at every release since COVID put the kebash on shit, nearly four years ago. It’s still here, people are more risk-adverse than ever to “conventional wisdom” & it’s just the new era we’re in now. People will show up when they’re good & ready. Not to mention, the studios were about streaming, until it was killing their bottom line. *Cue the Netflix was right soundtrack*

    Did The Marvels “flop” because of fatigue? No, because explain to me why Wakanda Forever, Black Widow, No Way Home, Love & Thunder, Shang-Chi, Guardians Vol 3, Eternals & even fucking Quantumania for Christ sakes did what they did, all things considered? If anything, it was good ol’ fashion bad timing for this latest film. It makes the most sense, to be honest. It was delayed, worked on, tweaked, date was moved & then the strike happened. I still think pushing it to November was the right call but no one wins 100%. Every film’s momentum has been stuck in neutral for a minute & people just can’t throw five on it like it was 2019 awaiting Sam Wilson to say to Steve Rodgers “On Your Left”.

    Also, to Marvel Studios, welcome to being a movie studio fifteen years in & you have your first film not truly hit big since The Incredible Hulk. I hate that it was a female-led vehicle that’s this one, but it is what it is. They did everything per usual but without the talent to sell most of this. 2023 was a crazy ass year for them anyway, which makes The Marvels news cycle so off to me because it’s a solid movie. Some longtime behind-the-scenes folks were let go, making TV is actually hard, making visual effects is draining (hence union!), Jonathan Majors’s domestic violence allegations & Tenoch Huerta’s own DV allegations. We’ve taken their consistency for granted.
    It won’t stop the dallies or social media from having another outlandishly absurd take about movies dying for the 500th time because you’re starved for content, but just keep making good shit like this & people will come. It may take awhile, but the people will come back. Scaling back to one film (Deadpool 3) in ’24 helps let us breath with all the candy we’ve gotten. I. Ain’t. Worried.

    Man, I didn’t think this would be long, but, yes, I had a lot to say and I need a week to gather my thoughts on this, Rod & Karen, so thank you, as always for y’all’s stellar commentary on issues with films. Peace.


      Hey, Rod & Karen, as you can tell by the first paragraph, it is not complete. I made a mistake by not finishing the point about Iman Vellani’s fellow actresses & forgot to finish this sentence in that paragraph & say, “Not to say that Brie Larson & Teyonah Parris can’t sell this, they can, Vellani just steals the show throughout The Marvels”. Meant to say that.

  2. Sean

    Query… Was I the only one that noticed that the villain was basically following the same dastardly plan as Dark Helmet in Spaceballs?

  3. Sean

    First off, great review.

    How to make this movie a five? (summary of Rod’s ideas)
    Add a 2-3m scene showing how Dar-Benn ended the civil war and brought her enemies to heel just before or just after the Quantum Bands discovery…
    Remove the Flerken audio-tag/post-credit audio-scene and add a ten second Bollywood dance scene on Aladna. Or, even just an audio-tag/post-credit audio-scene of the Aladneans singing… I mean, even just Fury editing the database to reflect that Aladna was now only 95.8% covered by water…

    You nailed it Rod!

    Also, Hank (Beast) called Maria Rambeau, “Binary,” in the mid-credit sequence. Binary was the moniker adopted by Carol Danvers in that period in the comics where she lost her powers to Rogue but somehow got the powers of a white hole (a theoretical physics singularity that is like a black hole in reverse) allowing her to emit light/heat/energy and control gravity. Not gonna speculate on how they are going to handle her character in the MCU, or even if she has a similar origin story to Binary from the comics, but I look forward to seeing her in action.

    I enjoy the character introduction phase of Marvel, but they really do shine in the build-up and resolution phases. They’ve got a lot of threads out there, let’s see what they can weave!

  4. ClassicRandBLover

    Hi Rod and Karen,

    I loved the Marvels. It had moments when I laughed out loud and moments when I was on the verge of tears. It was beautiful both in term of looks and content. I give it four stars. The minute I got home from the theater, I went to listen to your review because I heard your praise for it on Karen Hunter’s show on Friday. I not only plan to go see it again, I am going to rewatch Ms. Marvel to see what connections to the film I inadvertently/unknowingly missed during my first watch.

    Two things, First, I too was confused by the moving scene because I wondered if the Khan’s were moving into Monica’s house, but the items looked at in the boxes were Carol’s (remember the mother making note of the fact that the box said kitchen items, but it was hot sauces and the Carl and her signing husband plate). Carol then told Kamala that she was watching over the plane until Monica returned. Second, Carol did have the other bracelet. I wondered if she needed it to give her extra power to revive the sun on Hala, or if as was the case when the movie started, the two bracelets needed to be separated to prevent someone from getting too much power. Like you, I hope Kamala gets it cause everything about her radiates joy (like when she was dancing on the singing planet and wondering why Monica and Carol weren’t getting their lives to the dope music) and it is a connection to her family’s history.

    • J Dub

      I came to the comments to point out the boxes had Carol’s items in it and she told Kamala that she’s watching the plane until Monica came back. Thank you.

  5. RoninRaphael

    I just came out of my 2nd viewing with my kid, just before the end when Nick Fury asks 300+ yr old how’s everything? He confirms that the planets will make a full recovery. I didn’t catch that on first viewing, takes care of Aladna (I call it Aladdin too).

    Even better on 2nd viewing and the end credits

  6. RoninRaphael

    I just saw The Marvels and I shall sleep good tonight (fell asleep typing). I got to go see it again, I was a happy kid at the end. When the end credits began to roll, and I first caught Beasts hands I was like “oh shit,yesssss.”

    Back to the movie, I loved it and it was great to see all 3 women shine. Didn’t expect the cameos and yeah it really made Secret Invasion not make sense but it’s all good, I agree with the lack of resolving Alada planet. At least give us a scene of them singing “we gonna be aight” or idk whatever is the closest to that they can come up with as the final credit. Felt like we could use a song from them as a comedic ending or even discovery of a galactic being.

    Either way, I have Nia DaCosta up there as a contender to direct either the Avengers Secret Wars or the Upcoming X-men movie. She is good at balancing multiple characters and tones, and giving them them their shine on camera. I did miss my man’s wife and thought that she would appear at the Louisiana scene.

    I really dislike people who just have to tear this movie cause it’s directed by a black woman and led by women. NYT had a headline saying “you’ve seen this movie 32 times before” is it Daily Mail or NY Post that will be reasonable? But I’m sure that if I were to go back and look at headlines for the various white men led franchises, it’s more graceful. Then tomorrow these are the same people who are “why aren’t women getting more opportunities?” They were doing similar to Echo then first trailer dropped, I saw a bunch of negative talkers start talking great about the MCU all of a sudden. Fuck outta here. Thanks for an awesome episode as always!

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