The Marvels First Reviews: Wacky and Energetic, but Not for Everyone

Critics are largely divided on the latest installment of the MCU, which is alternately a "must-watch" or "meh", but everyone loves Iman Vellani's Kamala Khan.

by | November 8, 2023 | Comments

TAGGED AS: , , ,

Serving as a sequel to both the 2019 movie Captain Marvel, the 2021 TV series WandaVision, and the 2022 TV series Ms. Marvel, the 33rd feature film installment of the MCU has finally arrived. Following a delay in its release, The Marvels is hitting theaters on November 10, and critics so far are dramatically divided. The first reviews have arrived for the cosmic superhero movie, which is directed by Nia DaCosta (Candyman) and stars Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, Teyonah Parris, and Samuel L. Jackson, and there’s plenty of praise for its action, the dynamic between the three leads, and especially Vellani as a standout. But not everyone is on board with the film’s wacky sense of humor, uneven script, and uninspiring villain.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Marvels:

Is The Marvels another must-see MCU movie?

The Marvels is a triumph.” – Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

The Marvels is exactly what Marvel Studios does best…a must-watch for any casual or diehard Marvel fan, even those who may not have been impressed with the majority of the studio’s recent releases.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“It’s difficult not to get caught up in its Marvels. Simply put, it’s a Flerken good time.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“When The Marvels is cooking, it really cooks.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“A delightfully fun, must-watch MCU movie… The Marvels never loses sight of the fun.” – Mereia Mullor, Digital Spy

“You’re not going to be blown away, but you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the good time this offers up.” – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

The Marvels is an exemplary example that Marvel’s blockbuster superhero formula is absolutely still worthwhile, if it is injected with this much heart, brevity, and trust in its audience.” – Jenna Anderson,

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in The Marvels (2023)

(Photo by Laura Radford/©Marvel Studios)

How does it compare to other Marvel movies?

The Marvels is a return to form for the MCU, with all the goofy fun and superhero hijinks of Marvel’s best fare.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“It’s a much more contained and focused story that feels more reminiscent of the early days of the MCU.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“This feels like Phase One of the MCU, which is mostly a compliment.” – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

“This is actually one of the most kid-friendly Marvel movie releases in a long time.” – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

The Marvels is a ton of fun, and unlike several of the recent MCU offerings, I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing it again.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

“What’s most refreshing here is that where Captain Marvel – despite its merits – felt like a living, breathing ad for military recruitment, The Marvels is the antithesis of that.” – Amelia Emberwing, IGN Movies

“If you thought Eternals and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania were low points for the limping Marvel Cinematic Universe, strap in for the ride to abject misery that is The Marvels.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

What makes it stand out?

“It’s the dynamic between the three main characters in The Marvels that raises it above simply good Marvel fare to utterly enjoyable.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“The chemistry between these three actors is off the charts. It is them, working together but still having fun, that makes The Marvels as good as it is.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

The Marvels points out that not every decision made by a spandex-clad superhero is the right decision, and that’s something I’d prefer to see more of.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

The Marvels is a grounding contribution to a gluttonous and increasingly perplexing Marvel Cinematic Universe.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

“One of the greatest things about the movie is how it doesn’t let itself be dragged down by the many MCU settings it’s working with.” – Mereia Mullor, Digital Spy

“At one hour and 45 minutes, it is the shortest MCU movie ever made.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in The Marvels (2023)

(Photo by Laura Radford/©Marvel Studios)

How is the script?

“There’s quite a bit of Marvel-specific science/world-building thrown in throughout The Marvels that can be difficult to follow even for MCU scholars, but it doesn’t take away from the overall experience.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“You can weave the plot together in your head, but you may have a harder time pretending to know why it matters — not within the metastasizing mythos of the MCU, but simply on its own.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“It’s best described as a poorly-knitted sweater — pull one loose end, and it all unravels. There are choices made that never come together, narratives that feel too easily dropped, and an ending that contains some satisfying beats but also some genuinely confusing plot holes.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“As with most MCU offerings, the problem is in the plotting. The Marvels takes on more than it can responsibly handle… which means abrupt endings and discarded threads.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

Is it difficult to follow if you’re not caught up with all the shows?

“It is important to watch Ms. Marvel and WandaVision. Both are fantastic series on their own, but they will give you the background you need to truly understand Kamala and Monica, and their intentions, as well as the decisions they make.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

The Marvels, even if you’ve never seen those series, is not a tricky movie to follow.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

The Marvels requires homework for a basic understanding of its plot… and once you do? Meh.” – Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post

Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in The Marvels (2023)

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)

Does it ever get too silly?

“Its wackiness probably won’t click with every viewer, and that’s okay — DaCosta’s playfulness is admirable.” – Mereia Mullor, Digital Spy

“Goofy moments like these… are precisely the kind of thing comic book movies should attempt more often.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

“This film delivers one of the MCU’s most demented, unexpected, and hilarious scenes to date — it’s honestly hard to think of something that tops it. It’s bizarre. It’s magnificent. It’s a reason to see this movie at least twice.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“There’s a place in the MCU for wackjob silliness. But in The Marvels, the bits of absurd comedy tend to feel strained, because they clash with the movie’s mostly utilitarian tone.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

How is the action?

“The fight scenes are a blast… Having them switch places whenever they use their powers at the same times makes for some interesting battle moves. Things happen very quickly and at a fast pace as they flash and change from person to person, but boy does that make it a lot of fun to watch.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“The film’s power-swapping premise allows for some of the franchise’s most creative fight choreography yet.” – Jenna Anderson,

“Every time the protagonist trio switches places while using their powers, the fights end up driven by unexpected, phenomenal choreographies offering a different flavour to your usual Marvel action. It feels different and exciting.” – Mereia Mullor, Digital Spy

“This a nifty plot point that allows DaCosta to flaunt her visual style and choreograph entertaining fight sequences… the helmer experiments with perspective: The camera tracks, flips, swerves and swings in often exciting ways.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

“The action sequences are a bit ordinary.” – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in The Marvels (2023)

(Photo by ©Marvel Studios)

Are there any standouts?

“Central to what works about this movie is Iman Vellani… Watching her blast her way across the big screen gives this film such welcome joy and energy.” – Liz Shannon Miller, Consequence

“[Iman] Vellani remains one of the studio’s all-time best casting decisions, and it’s a joy whenever she’s onscreen.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

“Vellani, especially, is entertaining as Kamala, bringing plenty of humor and heart to the movie.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“It’s Vellani who really splashes… The actress indeed does a lot with a role that could easily be one-note, stealing nearly every scene in the process.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

Does it have a villain problem?

“The villain isn’t one of Marvel’s most well-developed characters… but she’s fine as an antagonist to the trio of heroes.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“As good as Zawe Ashton is, Dar-Benn feels like the generic version of Cate Blanchett’s Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“This one is on the forgettable side. While her intentions match that of a villain’s, she feels a bit generic at times. She is hard to relate to, even for those who love a bad guy.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

“The villain is bland.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review

“The villain is probably one of the most cringe Marvel characters of all time.” – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

Does it offer hope for the future of the MCU?

The Marvels is proof that maybe the MCU is back on track and isn’t in as much trouble as it would seem.” – Matt Rodriguez, Shakefire

“If Marvel delivers more movies like The Marvels, there’s no reason to believe the future of the MCU is anything but bright.” – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“Khan proves herself to be the key… She’s undeniably a badass and, if Disney and Marvel are smart, she’s the future of the franchise.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

“As long as Kamala Khan is in it, The Marvels paints a bright future for the MCU.” – Mereia Mullor, Digital Spy

“We are finally excited for the future of the MCU again.” – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.