Here’s what The Marvels means to its fans (Part One)

(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL.
(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' THE MARVELS. Photo by Laura Radford. © 2023 MARVEL. /

There are a few things worth knowing about me. One, I’m a massive Marvel fan (perhaps unsurprising, given my bevy of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)-centric contributions to Culturess). And two, I’m an even more massive The Marvels fan.

I recognize that these are objectively similar-sounding statements. Trust me when I say, though, that there’s an important distinction to be made here.

A lot of people are Marvel fans – the MCU alone is a multi-billion dollar franchise, and that’s not even mentioning those who enjoy the vastness of the Marvel Comics universe, the multitude of animated projects featuring these characters, or the many previous attempts to bring these heroes to the big screen.

In this day and age, being a Marvel fan is a bit like saying you enjoy watching professional sports – for better or for worse, depending on how you look at it, Marvel fandom has become near-ubiquitous.

Conversely, being a The Marvels fan (the sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, coming to theatres November 10th) is a much more specific classification. It’s something I’ve come to learn and very much cherish in the year or so that I’ve spent on the fandom side of Twitter (nonsensically rebranded as earlier this year) for this movie.

More so than for any other superhero-led project that I’ve followed closely, be it a movie or a TV series (which, from 2016 onward, has been all of them from the MCU), the lead-up to The Marvels has just felt different. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s like there’s this special breed of us who all seem to be flocking to this movie with an earnestness and enthusiasm and dedication that’s both unprecedented and truly admirable. I’m very proud to count myself among them.

Some way, somehow, this movie speaks to each of us in deep, meaningful ways, and it hasn’t even come out yet! It speaks to those of us who have been underrepresented in the media we watch. To those of us who once upon a time gravitated towards a particular character and can’t wait to finally see them on screen again and get their due. To those of us who already feel emotionally bonded to the story Nia DaCosta, Megan McDonnell, and Elissa Karasik (the director/co-writer, first co-writer, and second co-writer) have set out to tell here.

As a physical manifestation of my place in this fandom, I’ve taken to collecting various merchandise and artwork related to the likes of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau/Photon, and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. Just under two months ago, I was hanging up a framed, full-sized version of the official theatrical poster for The Marvels on the wall of my home.

My father was there to help me, and, being the well-meaning parent that he is, asked, “What if you don’t like the movie?”

It was an entirely warranted question – in fact, a friend had asked me the very same one earlier this summer. Back then, I’d responded (rather stubbornly, I’ll admit!) that I just wouldn’t let myself not like it.

This time, however, I was more prepared with an answer. I told my father that even if there’s something in the movie I don’t end up enjoying, or it’s not as perfect as I’ve made it out to be in my head over these last few years, that doesn’t matter here. The experience of anticipating this movie, endlessly theorizing about it, and talking to people about it for hours on end in the lead-up to its release has been so much fun, that for these reasons alone, it’s worth commemorating.

That’s essentially the same guiding principle for this article (and, as is often the case when I’m particularly excited about something, this ‘article’ has ballooned into a two-part series). Having spent the last nearly three years aware that there’s just something special about The Marvels, to me and other fans, I’ve made it my mission to find out what that is.

The logical solution was to ask – and that’s exactly what I did.

Earlier this month, I reached out to some of my fellow The Marvels fans, all of whom I’ve had the immense joy of connecting with over the last year. I sent each individual a short list of prompts, and the remainder of this article (as well as Part Two) will be dedicated to featuring their responses.

First up, we’ll be hearing from Anazia, who is a self-described “short-time and long-time (wink) lover of Monica Rambeau, Captain Marvel, and Kamala Khan!”

She has considered herself a fan of the MCU for about three years now. “[That time period] isn’t too long considering how long [the MCU] has been around. It’s easy for me to say that I’ve been having an adrenaline-packed time watching the movies and shows, plus engaging in discourse surrounding my favorite projects.”

Conversely, she began feeling excited about The Marvels around January of 2021, which is when she first heard about the movie. “I remember having finished the WandaVision series with a strong urge to know more about Monica Rambeau’s journey in the MCU. I’d found my way to Twitter seeking more conversations. There I’d seen someone mention The Marvels and I’ve been emotionally bound since.”

When asked what this movie means to her personally, Anazia had this to say:

"“This movie, to me, is a whirlwind of emotions. I’ve never been this emotionally invested in a movie ever in my life, which surprised me! But to put it into words…hmm…I’d say this movie marks a huge beginning and end for emotion. It breeds new possibilities, new powers of self, and new emotional depths. I’ve grown as a person while I’ve followed this movie, so I know it will leave a lasting mark on my life.”"

Each fan who participated in this article series was asked a final question: what’s on their wish list for this movie? Anazia considered the question in the global sense first, and then provided a thoughtful answer for each of the three heroes we’ll be seeing on the big screen next month:

"“The two words I see blinking in my mind are “New” and “Growth.” Between these three iconic characters, I can foresee the bountiful growth and change that will be set alight. It’s a change that has not yet been considered, but a change that will influence the rest of their superhero lives. I think that the change you don’t see coming is the best change there is.For Photon (Monica Rambeau), I can’t wait to see how she levels up power-wise. Seeing her take a journey in the cosmos where she is at the peak of her power set will be beautiful to see, as she is a captain who is analytical and set on helping those that may come off as violent to others. She sees the core of a hurt person and targets that with logic.For Ms. Marvel, I’m stoked to see how she enters a new world beyond her own. A world where she is no longer the savior but has to be saved—constantly!Captain Marvel is someone I’m really stoked to see. She’s a soloist by heart because that is all her heart can handle. She will be challenged in this movie in more ways than one, and I’m prepared to see how a woman whose perception is built upon hurt and injustice faces the opposite of those things within herself.”"

The next fan I interviewed for this series was Cy (@avengingphoton on Twitter/X), who is 25 years old and identifies as non-binary. They’ve been a fan of the MCU since the very beginning, with the release of 2008’s Iron Man.

With The Marvels, Cy noted that they’ve been excited about this movie ever since its announcement, citing a love of the sequel’s main hero, Carol Danvers, thanks to her debut in 2019’s Captain Marvel. “Carol Danvers was the first superhero since Tony Stark where I left the theater thinking, “I want to see more of them.” It was such a cool feeling, too, because Tony had been my number one for YEARS, and then suddenly there was a challenger. I’m happy to report that now they both live as best friends in the number one spot.”

When asked the all-important question of what The Marvels means to them and what’s special about it, Cy gave this response:

"“This movie, in whatever way, I think is going to be life changing for me. Off the bat, one of my favorite characters is returning to a headlining position. I couldn’t hide my excitement about that if I wanted to. But what else is super special about this movie to me is that we get to revisit the Rambeau family. I absolutely adored Maria in Captain Marvel, and while there’s been some…tragedy there since then, I know that her presence is going to be strong in this movie. I’m also excited to see Monica in a leading role on the big screen. I feel like I was the only one who didn’t know until it was revealed that Geraldine in WandaVision was actually Monica Rambeau, and when that moment came, I was out of my seat with excitement. She was such an easy character to love in Captain Marvel, and that has been carried on throughout her later appearances, and I know it’s going to continue in The Marvels.”"

And as for what Cy is wishing to see in this movie? A fitting tribute to Maria Rambeau, Carol’s best friend, and Monica’s late mother.

"“Honestly, I hope to see acknowledgement for how important Maria was to both Carol and Monica’s lives. It sucks that WandaVision gave her an offscreen death, especially when she was such a standout performer and character in Captain Marvel. I really want to see that love the three of them shared, even though it might be tough to watch. I want Maria Rambeau to get the respect she deserves!”"

The third and final fan featured in Part One of this series is Mal (@photonsmight on Twitter/X). Mal is a college student who lives for pop culture and comic book media, and loves writing and singing, but acknowledges that reading books and watching amazing movies is how they like to escape. Mal also created the Twitter community “The Marvel Corps” back in February of 2022. This online community currently boasts a membership of over 2200 fans (myself included!) who love this movie and these three characters.

Mal became a fan of the MCU after seeing Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame in theatres back in 2019. “A few years ago you could’ve asked me what the MCU was and would’ve just gotten a blank stare,” they shared, although all that changed in 2019. “But I only really did my homework in 2021 when we saw Monica Rambeau in WandaVision.

When it comes to The Marvels, Mal recalls having been excited since the minute it was first announced. “I was a fan of the first movie, and to know there was a black woman [Nia DaCosta, the aforementioned director and co-writer of The Marvels] at the helm as director only increased that excitement tenfold.”

To Mal, this Captain Marvel sequel means “defying expectations, especially the expectations of people who are counting you out.”

They then expanded upon this description:

"“In the first movie, when we see Carol get up so many times after falling, it really struck a chord with me. The Marvels is a living testament of that, after so much vitriol was spread about the movie by trolls, the first movie soared to heights and gave space for The Marvels to be born.What’s special to me is that The Marvels is going to be an incredible team up of bada** women from diverse backgrounds with untold levels of dazzling power, coming together to solve a universe-endangering threat.The director is so talented and the main cast is filled to the brim with talented people like Brie [Larson] and Teyonah [Parris] who are really going to sell the emotional aspects of this story, while also serving up some delicious action sequences with their visually stunning super powers.I can’t wait to see these ladies let loose, to not just see them defy expectations, but also gravity.”"

As a devoted fan of Monica Rambeau (a.k.a. Photon), Mal’s primary wish for this movie is straightforward – they’re looking forward to the character’s feature film debut as a full-fledged superhero (Monica originally appeared as a child in Captain Marvel).

"“I just really want to see Monica Rambeau, the first black woman to lead the Avengers [in the Marvel Comics], soaring amongst the stars on the big screen for the first time. This has been a journey over 40 years in the making.”"

And now, in just three weeks, this wish is finally coming true.

[Stay tuned for Part Two of this fan-focused series, which will be debuting right here on Culturess in the coming weeks!]

The Marvels premieres in theatres on November 10th, 2023. Pre-sale tickets are available now.

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