First reactions to “The Marvels”: See what critics are saying about the MCU’s woman-centric film

Marvel Studios’ woman-centric superhero film “The Marvels” has wowed critics in anticipation of its release in theaters on Nov. 10. The film held its premiere in Las Vegas on Tuesday along with press screenings in New York and Los Angeles.

Helmed by “Candyman” director Nia DaCosta, the latest MCU movie centers on Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), who spurred a civil war among the alien Kree race following the destruction of the Supreme Intelligence. Mayhem ensues when Danvers’ powers become entangled with those of superfan Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka the hard light-constructing Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who has her own powers from going through a witch hex. The trio must learn to use their unlikely powers to come together and defeat the Kree for good. 

“The Marvels” is a sequel to 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” which grossed over $1 billion when it was first released. The latest film, however, has been projected to not perform as well and there are a few reasons why. First, there’s the ongoing Marvel fatigue — both amid fans and skeptics alike. There’s also the ardent backlash from men’s rights activists and incels, who decried the film and its cast shortly after the trailer was released in April. And, most importantly, there’s the fact that the cast wasn’t able to promote the film amid the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Although “The Marvels” is predicted to be a box office disappointment, the film has already raked in a slew of positive remarks from critics and journalists. Many praised the trio’s feel-good antics along with the film’s dedication to the comic books and Larson’s return to the MCU.   

Here are just a few first reactions to the film:

The AP’s Lindsey Bahr praised Vellani but was more lukewarm about the movie overall:

The stakes feel immensely low in “ The Marvels,” and it’s not because this is a movie that spends a fair amount of time following cats or has an out-of-nowhere musical number. It’s possibly that somewhere along way, Marvel movies just stopped feeling like events. 

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman is confused, not grasping many of the actions or even characters correctly (and spoiling some surprises), which may explain his overall “meh” reaction: 

As Taika Waititi established in his “Thor” films, 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. 

While The Hollywood Reporter’s Lovia Gyarkye wasn’t a fan of the plotting, she felt the performances and character work propelled the movie: 

Larson, Parris and Vellani have a natural and infectious rapport. Their undeniable chemistry anchors one of the stronger threads of “The Marvels,” which wrestles with Carol’s isolation and ego. Larson is steadier in this installment of the Captain Marvel franchise . . . Parris, who worked with DaCosta on “Candyman” and most recently demonstrated her range in “They Cloned Tyrone,” is always a pleasure to watch. She brings an understated warmth and nerdiness (akin to Letitia Wright in “Black Panther”) to the film.. . .But it’s Vellani who really splashes. Her character’s bubbly personality adds levity and humor to “The Marvels,” making it lighter fare than its predecessor. The actress indeed does a lot with a role that could easily be one-note, stealing nearly every scene in the process. 

IndieWire’s Kate Erbland found the whole affair “incoherent” while also appreciating the Vellani’s charisma:

Tellingly, the most pleasurable moments in Nia DaCosta’s “The Marvels” don’t hinge on the audience having an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Marvel. Hell, they don’t even hinge on the audience being particularly inclined toward anything Marvel. They’re just solid pieces of blockbuster filmmaking: charming stars (like the full-force charisma of Iman Vellani and the appealing vulnerability of Teyonah Parris), sprightly action, and zippy humor.

Steven Weintraub, editor-in-chief of Collider, said:

Happy to report #themarvels is a blast. It’s fun, funny & the cast is so good together. Is it one of the best Marvel movies? No. But I had a smile on my face a lot. Definitely worth seeing in a movie theater. 

Also the after the credits scene is 

Excited for what’s next.

Erik Davis, managing editor for Fandago, said:

Nia DaCosta’s #TheMarvels is a great time at the movies! It’s well paced & full of frantic, hilarious energy. I even liked it more than 2019’s  #CaptainMarvel. This thing moves! The location-swap action is a blast & the end credits scene is. I’m definitely a fan.

Iman Vellani really does steal the movie, too. She does a good job adding that wide-eyed “Holy Cow!” humor to the story – it reminded me at times of Spider-Man’s trip to space in Infinity War. 

Solid surprises, strong cast chemistry, unique action sequences, lots of Flerkittens and a light, breezy runtime. An MCU win in my book.

Washington Post reporter Herb Scribner said:

My early #TheMarvels review — 

—Yes.  So much yes. 

—This film is so much fun and exactly what a comic book movie should be. It’s funny, silly, short and sweet, action-packed. Loved the cosmic sci-fi moments. Plenty of MCU interconnectivity without being overbearing. 

—We will be talking about this movie for years to come.

Entertainment journalist Kristen Maldonado said:

#TheMarvels is the most fun I’ve had watching a superhero movie in a while! It’s hilarious, action-packed & full of girl power. Kamala was a stand out & so many moments surprised me. There was a great balance of the team, while dropping shocking bombs that will change EVERYTHING.

Rachel Leishman, assistant editor for The Mary Sue, said:

#TheMarvels is so much fun, action-packed goodness, but genuinely hilarious and exciting to watch from start to finish. I love my girls so much and seeing them fight all three together truly is so special. Higher, further, faster baby!

Of course, some critics weren’t all too impressed with the film. Some felt as though certain scenes were a tad bit “silly” while others expressed annoyance with the film’s editing and lack of a cohesive plot:

Take for example Collider’s Nate Richard, who said:

I went into #TheMarvels with extremely low expectations and it wasn’t half bad.

Iman Villani and Teyonah Parris are easily the highlights. Love their chemistry with Brie Larson.

Unfortunately, the story is a huge mess with an underutilized villain and an underwhelming finale.

And Discussing Film’s Andrew J. Salazar, who said:

Despite everyone on screen trying their best, #TheMarvels feels like it lost its battle in the editing room. 

Scenes don’t flow into each other & you can’t tell when the first act or second act begins. There’s a few really dope scenes but studio interference might be to blame.

And’s Brandon Davis, who said:

The Marvels is a fine MCU entry.

Carol, Kamala, and Monica are really great, especially together in very creative action scenes! First 25 minutes really rocked, exciting MCU stuff by the end.

Villain is forgettable. VFX vary, both good and bad. Some silly scenes didn’t work.

“The Marvels” currently holds a 57 percent score on the movie review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.