Despite Marvel being home to some of the most iconic female characters on the roster of super-powered beings in comics, the MCU never truly did justice to their potential on the silver screen. The long-overdue Captain Marvel was financially successful thanks to the pre-Endgame buzz, but the reception among fans was lackluster due to the flimsy characterization and quite derivative narrative structure of the story. However, when it came to female character-led projects on the small screen, MCU brought their A game time and time again, as seen with ventures like WandaVision, She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, and therefore fans wished to see something along those lines in movies as well. Adhering to this request, MCU brought the story of legacies, presenting the three generations of heroes: Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan, upholding the Marvel moniker in The Marvels, a direct sequel to Brie Larson previous MCU venture, Captain Marvel. For the first time, the MCU has presented a female ensemble superhero venture, and although it didn’t surpass the grounded, funky girl gang counterpart of the rival franchise, Birds of Prey, it offered a significant improvement over the first adventure of Carol Danvers.
While most of the cinematic ventures produced by MCU this year failed miserably to become even decent enough entries in the superhero genre, The Marvels, in its modest, sincere, and self-aware approach, shone a much-needed glimmer of hope in MCU’s seemingly dimmed horizons. Even though the movie isn’t impervious to the generic, unfunny MCU humor, unnecessary shoehorning of larger world-building, and clichéd characterization, the visuals and minor narrative subversions kind of makeup for its drawbacks.
Who Is Dar-Benn? What Is Her Objective?
As the movie begins, viewers are given a quick recap of the events that took place during Ms. Marvel through the perspective of Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, the teenage superhero of New Jersey and a self-professed Captain Marvel superfan. She daydreams about meeting her idol someday, and little does she know that her wish is going to be fulfilled pretty soon in a most unexpected way. On the other side of the cosmos, at sector MB-418, Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, along with her cat-looking Flerken alien buddy, Goose, is investigating the activities of current Kree Supremor, Dar-Benn, who has managed to locate an ancient Kree artifact, a quantum band. Dar-Benn has used the band to create jump points—wormhole-like constructs in the space-time continuum—which allow her to instantly move across massive distances. It should be mentioned that Kamala Khan possesses another such quantum band, which gives her hard light construction powers. Dar-Benn’s activities lead to a sudden power surge, which is felt near Earth’s space area as well, and the chief extraterrestrial investigation department, currently led by Nick Fury (S.W.O.R.D.), gets involved.
Viewers might remember that in Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers destroyed the central ruler of the Kree empire, the evil AI Supreme Intelligence, which was responsible for the centuries-long Kree-Skrull war and destruction of Skrullos, as it misguided the Kree with a false, xenophobic narrative against the shapeshifting alien Skrulls. But contrary to her best intention for the Kree to be free from the control of the AI overseer, Carol’s action led the Kree into a vicious civil war, which saw the complete drainage of their home planet Hala’s resources, the death of their sun, and the eventual damnation of the Kree. Dar-Benn holds Carol responsible for the Kree crisis and aims to use the quantum band in conjunction with her universal weapon to restore Hala’s atmosphere by stripping it from other planets—especially the ones where the people Carol cares most about life.
Why Do The Marvels Keep Getting Entangled?
Dar-Benn’s act of opening the jump point causes a power surge, and Nick Fury, who was presiding over a Kree-Skrull treaty aboard the S.A.B.E.R. space station, sends Monica Rambeau to investigate. Monica, the daughter of Carol’s best friend, Maria, is an accomplished scientist whom, viewers will recognize from WandaVision, who received powers to manipulate energies from the electromagnetic spectrum after going through Wanda’s hex multiple times. Dar-Benn’s usage of the quantum band triggers Kamala’s bands, and at the same time, Carol and Monica come into close proximity to the jump points, which gets the trio into a quantum entanglement, which leads to all three of them switching places and powers uncontrollably. What ensues is a chaotic situation as the Kree soldiers chasing Carol end up in New Jersey, at Kamala’s home, via Goose, and wreck up the Khan household. After a confusing tirade of body-swapping fights, the trio finally settles down after knocking out the Kree soldiers.
It’s a confusing situation for everyone, but especially for the lead trio, as they are experiencing conflicting emotions at the moment. While Carol is happy to get reunited with her niece, Monica, after what seems to be a lifetime, Monica is a bit detached due to Aunt Carol not being there when she needed her most, and Kamala is having the time of her life seeing her dream of meeting Captain Marvel fulfilled. Anyway, Monica surmises that the power and body entanglement is the result of their respective light-based powers being sensitive to electromagnetic influences, and until they figure out a way to undo the effect, the best course of action would be to stick together to avoid further chaos. However, the entanglement results in Carol and her two younger protégés arriving at planet Tarnax, one of the Skrull refuges, where Dar-Benn is currently discussing the prospect of a peace treaty between the Kree and the Skrulls.
Did Dar-Benn Succeed In Restoring Hala’s Atmosphere?
The arrival of Carol, whom the Krees consider ‘Annihilator,’ is seen as an act of treason on the part of Skrull, and a battle ensues between the Marvels and the Dar-Benn-led Kree soldiers. Dar-Benn ruptures the jump point of Tarnax, which siphons the planet’s atmosphere into Hala, leaving the Skrull refuge on the verge of destruction. The Marvels work together to save as many Skrulls as they can, and Kamala learns a harrowing first lesson in superheroing: that you cannot save everybody no matter how desperately you wish to, and you have to make amends with the fact.
Carol calls Valkyrie, aka King Brunnhilde, to help the Skrulls find a safer place, and she arrives using the Bifrost Bridge to take them to New Asgard. The trio plans their next course of action, which is to locate Dar-Benn before she drains another planet dry and take the quantum band off of her, which Kamala recognizes to be similar to her own. Carol proposes creating a neural link to learn about their individual experience in Tarnax, revealing Dar-Benn’s plans, and some of the sordid memories creep up from her subconscious, which shocks both Kamala and Monica. Monica’s mother, Maria, battled with cancer during the final days of her life, and Carol had returned to meet her for one last time.
The neural link reveals Dar-Benn’s next target to be the ocean planet Aladna, and en route to there, the Marvels practice syncing their powers in perfect coordination. The movie takes a musical turn at Aladna, whose inhabitants communicate via singing, and it is also revealed that Carol is regarded as a princess there, as she was married to the sovereign king of the planet, Prince Yan. Carol and co. warn Yan of Dar-Benn’s impending attack, and as the Kree arrive, a battle ensues. Despite their best efforts, Dar-Benn creates another jump-point rupture, which siphons out Aladna’s oceans to Hala. The trio reconcile after a distraught Carol acknowledges her unwitting role in the Kree crisis and heads towards Dar-Benn’s final target, planet Earth, where she plans to siphon Earth’s sun to reignite Hala’s one. Meanwhile, at the onset of the conflict, the S.A.B.E.R. space station awaits an impending disaster, but Goose and her Flerken-ling cats come to the rescue by helping with the evacuation.
The Marvels take the battle to Dar-Benn’s spacecraft, and this time they manage to subdue her. Monica suggests Carol help Hala by using her powers to reignite its sun, but despite Carol promising her assistance, the Kree Supremor chooses a violent approach and forces the Marvels to hand over Kamala’s quantum band as well. Now with two of the quantum bands at her disposal, Dar-Benn ruptures the very fabric of the space-time continuum itself, but in the process, unable to withstand the power surge, she disintegrates herself. The surge also put an end to the quantum entanglement, thereby returning Kamala, Carol, and Monica to their original selves.
In Which Reality Did Monica Rambeau Finally End Up?
However, the job at hand is far from over, as the tear in the space-time continuum threatens to destroy the universe itself. Monica speculates that the only way to undo the damage is by closing the tear from the other side, which might supposedly be an altogether different reality or dimension compared to their own. With no other option available and the team already running out of time, Carol and Kamala begrudgingly agree with Monica to shoulder the responsibility and imbue her with their powers to provide enough strength to repair the continuum tear. Monica successfully closes the tear, thereby saving the universe in the process; unfortunately, she gets stranded on the other side while a crestfallen Carol desperately tries to save her and fails. In the last few moments, Monica tries to console Carol, stating she knew the risks while taking on the responsibility.
In the aftermath, Carol honors Monica’s sacrifice by reigniting Hala’s sun, and in remembrance of their time spent together, Kamala decides to don the Nick Fury hat and put a team together of her own. As soon as the scene shifts to New York and viewers recognize the good boy Lucky gorging on pizzas, it becomes quite clear that Kamala has decided to recruit Hawkeye’s protégé Kate Bishop as the first member of her teenage super team. MCU has dropped hints about a Young Avengers venture by introducing adolescent superheroes like Cassie Lang, Wanda’s twins Billy and Tommy, Eli Bradley, and America Chavez, and The Marvels officiating the team-up process.
In the mid-credits scene, Monica is shown waking up in a lab, where Maria is seen to be present by her side. Hit by a sudden feeling of shock and joy at seeing her deceased mother alive, Monica almost loses her mind before she realizes she is a different person altogether. Assisting Maria is none other than Hank McCoy, aka the Beast from X-Men, who correctly surmises that Monica has arrived from a parallel reality but finds it hard to believe at the same time and decides to take the matter to Charles Xavier. This version of Beast resembles the original trilogy X-Men movie continuity of the character, but it cannot be said with certainty that he is from the same universe. Viewers learn that in this reality, Maria Rambeau goes by the superpower moniker Binary from the comics, which is a version of the superpowered form of Carol Danvers. This is a different version of Maria Rambeau than the Captain Marvel version of the character we saw in Multiverse of Madness, who became a victim of Wanda’s maniacal carnage. Viewers can also speculate about her identity as a mutant in this reality, given her acquaintance with Charles and Hank. The Marvels continues the exploration of the multiverse through the mid-credits cameo and especially integrates the X-Men and mutants, a process that started with the Multiverse of Madness. It can be speculated that the upcoming Secret Wars will bring together all the super teams, like different versions of Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and even Young Avengers, in a grand showdown, and the movies in the multiverse saga will continue teasing the final line-up through cameo appearances much like this one.