“The Marvels” have arrived.
Marvel Studios’ latest feature, which sees Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) teaming up with Monica Rambeau/Photon (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), is here and it is a ton of fun – a candy-colored, vaguely musical journey through the cosmos with three heroes you absolutely adore. They’re facing off against a villain from Captain Marvel’s past, the fearsome Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), who also shares a connection to Kamala (or at least a love of similar accessories). Dar-Benn is proving a threat to the entire galaxy – but can the combined might of the Marvels put an end to her madness? And if they are successful, what comes after?
To answer that last question, we’ve got to break down the ending of “The Marvels.” So extreme spoiler warning, before we dig in!
Captain Marvel Makes Peace
One of the more fascinating aspects of “The Marvels” is how Captain Marvel, the all-powerful being who provided essential support during the battle against Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame,” is dealing with her past. For other parts of the galaxy she is known as the Annihilator; when she killed the Annette Bening evil A.I. in the first “Captain Marvel,” she set off a chain of events that rippled through the cosmos. (Yes, Annette Bening played an evil A.I. in the first “Captain Marvel.” We’d kind of forgotten that too.) The idea that the space cop could actually be as bad as the cops on earth is an interesting premise and throughout the movie you see Captain Marvel wrestling with that guilt; how she inspired and terrorized in equal measure.
At the end of the film, Captain Marvel leaves her team behind (surprise surprise) and travels back to Dar-Benn’s home world, which has been suffering since Captain Marvel visited it during the events of the first movie. While there, she believes in herself enough to restart the planet’s dying sun (yes, she is that powerful). The sun reignites. The people of the planet look up and see Captain Marvel not as the Annihilator but as a hero. Someone who is willing to grapple with her past and come out the other side a better person. There’s also a lovely visual parallel, since the first image of the movie is of a dying sun, it’s plasma roiling with cosmic waves. And one of the last images of the movie is the sun reborn, radiant and very much alive.
Photon Wakes Up
During the climax of “The Marvels,” Monica aka Photon is asked to use her considerable powers to close an interdimensional doorway that has opened up. (Yes, this is another interdimensional portal. Loki doesn’t have anything to do with it. Or Doctor Strange.) Monica is presumed dead and when Kamala and Carol return to Earth they gravely communicate that they “lost Monica.” But is she lost forever?
We’ll save the answer to that question for our post-credits sequence explainer.
And Ms. Marvel Starts Her Own Team
The very last scene takes place in New York City. We see a one-eyed golden retriever and then a door open. A shadowy figure gives the dog a slice of pizza. She’s got a bow and arrow. It’s Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld), Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) protégé from the painfully underrated Disney+ series “Hawkeye.” She walks into her crummy apartment. And a figure, sitting alone in the dark, greets here.
It’s Kamala Khan!
“I’m putting together a team,” Ms. Marvel tells the new Hawkeye, echoing a statement made by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in the post-credits sequence that was attached to “Iron Man” way back in the year of our lord 2008. Lil’ Hawkeye seems confused. “Did you know Ant-Man has a daughter?” Kamala asks, referring to Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), who revealed her superheroic self in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which came out earlier this year. It’s also a fun meta-gag because Newton tried out for the Kate Bishop role in “Hawkeye,” only to get the Cassie Lang role instead. Cassie has gone by superhero names like Stinger, Stature and Ant-Girl.
The implication of this sequence is that Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel will be the one who assembles the Young Avengers, or some version of them, with Kamala, Cassie and Kate being the first members of the team. Avengers … assemble (but remember that you have an 11 p.m. curfew. Okay 11:3o).
It might seem like a somewhat silly scene but it has huge implications for the future of the MCU and is the first proper tease of a new team. It’s a great final scene and leaves you, as an audience member, with an unexpected spring in your step, excited for what will come next. This is especially great given how wheel-spinning the last few entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been. Captain Marvel brought the sun back to a wayward planet; Ms. Marvel is returning the spark to the MCU.