The Marvel Cinematic Universe loves to bring in not only strange new worlds but also strange new multiverses with all sorts of outside-canon shenanigans. You want to see the Fantastic Four repped? What about the possibility of an X-Men relaunch? Yearning to see Bruce Campbell hamming it up as a pizza-ball seller? Cool. Just don't get too attached. Because the MCU is deep in its grief, and it's killing off the most enticing new planets in its orbit.
I complained about this before with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, aka "The most freewheeling MCU characters all go gloomy." In that sad-sack sequel, the Guardians go to Counter-Earth, a version of Earth created by The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) that is home to a bunch of cuddly human-animal hybrids. Among them is a lovable bat family who welcomes this gatecrashing gang of heroes into their home. And what do they get for their hospitality of blue beverages, essential information, and the family vehicle? Annihilated without even a moment of remorse.
The Marvels follows GOTGv3, and guess what? It pulls a very similar move: Welcome to this intriguing and unique planet — blammo!
Behold! Aladna — the singing planet!
One of the brightest highlights of The Marvels is undoubtedly when Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), and Captain Monica Rambeau/No code name, thank you very much (Teyonah Parris) touch down on Aladna. A planet that's more than 90% oceans, it's the picturesque next stop on the worlds-destroying tour of Kree villainess Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). It also happens to be the kingdom in which Carol Danvers isn't known as Captain Marvel or the Annihilator but as Princess Carol.
Yes, the most powerful Avenger is married to a very handsome prince named Yan (K-drama star Park Seo-joon). But the most thrilling thing about Aladna is that they communicate through singing (in English). So, to warn the prince of the imminent threat racing toward this candy-colored kingdom of song and splendor and swoon-worthy royalty, Carol has to burst into a duet, which is naturally accompanied by a waltz (and costume change!), while Kamala and Monica look on in amused awe.
Here is an exciting new corner of the MCU, where life is a song and invites all to sing along. Here there are resplendent colors, glimmering gowns, and people so pretty they probably have a side-hustle selling skincare products. But just as with Counter-Earth, The Marvels takes just enough time to allow us to fall in love with this curious other world before throwing it into potentially planet-ending peril.
Prepped for battle, the singing squads challenge the invading Kree forces. But after a losing showdown with merciless Dar-Benn, The Marvels flee to fight another day. What does that mean for the planet they left behind?
What happens to Aladna?
As their oceans were being guzzled up by the Kree's ravenous jump points, things weren't looking good for the universe's favorite theater kids. However, if you listen very closely in the film's final act, you'll hear one of Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) team say the "planets" are in recovery with teams being sent to facilitate.
This suggests that it's not just the Kree home world of Hala (which was saved in the final act by some Captain Marvel heroics) that will be cared for by space cops S.A.B.E.R. but also Aladna. And maybe Tarnax?
The Skrull refugee planet had all of its air stolen by the Kree, plus heavy losses from the vicious attack. But maybe those who sought sanctuary from King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson in a sharp suit) can return to rebuild?
Still, a throwaway line is hardly a satisfactory conclusion. Considering the sweeping set pieces that took place on these planets, it would have been nice for their fates to be revealed with some visual panache. Yet there's no shot of the Skrulls going home or the Aladna people reveling the return of their water.
Think on that. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 got a whole finale song number with "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence and the Machine. But though the people of Aladna literally speak in song, they didn't get the chance to give us a rousing musical finale. Plus, Brie Larson was briefly a pop starlet! And she was Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World! Give her a musical spotlight moment!
Imagine it! Yan, backed by his joyful court, could have cheered the return of their princess and her "twinsies" cohort. They could have danced and sang, welcoming us to revel in the jubilation of ducking near annihilation. But in that joy, there'd be a sting of sadness, a wince of loss when they remember Monica is not there with them to celebrate. Maybe this thread could have been played out musically, with a three-part harmony missing one crucial voice as Monica's no longer in their trio. Sure, the moment in the cockpit was cute. But this could have been the kind of big space-set sendoff this movie deserved.
The Marvels has its flaws. But its greatest is the missed opportunity of not returning to Aladna for a reprise that would have us leaving the theater with a song in our hearts. But hey. MCU's gonna MCU.