Making its debut on Disney Channel and Disney XD simultaneously tonight, MARVEL RISING: SECRET WARRIORS will give fans a lesson in friendship, teamwork, and confidence.
The feature-length animated film piggybacks off of several tie-in comic books and a series of animated shorts called MARVEL RISING: INITIATION, where both mediums introduced us to teenage heroes Ghost-Spider (Dove Cameron), Squirrel Girl (Milana Vayntrub), Ms. Marvel (Kathreen Khavari), and more.
This story centers around Ms. Marvel, or Kamala Khan as she’s known to her high school classmates, an Inhuman who hides this element of her life from most. She’s still a typical teenage girl who gets flack from her mother about sleeping late, playing video games until wee hours of the morning, and daydreaming of boys. She’s very relatable as an outsider just trying to survive, and she’s got her best friend to navigate these awkward years with her. Squirrel Girl, Doreen Green, is equally quirky but exudes silliness and confidence that make her instantly likable.
The civil war of Inhumans isn’t anything new, but little did these two heroes know that there is much more to this war than Inhuman versus Inhuman. There’s a greater threat, and several rouge Inhumans and the alien kind known as the Kree are at the command.
These encounters pair them with other lesser-known heroes America Chavez (Cierra Ramirez), Quake (Chloe Bennet, reprising her live-action role from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Captain America’s “Mini-Me” Patriot (Kamil McFadden). Each of these has their own unique background, personality and appearance, rounding out one of the most diverse teams to be assembled in Disney/Marvel animation.
The plot is captivating and fun but tends to drag around the half-way point, as a bunch of new characters are introduced but quickly dismissed. This part of the saga had a very Hunger Games feel to it and having a bunch of unnamed combatants drove this home. The saving grace of this scene was the team’s help of Marvel’s hero du jour Captain Marvel (Kim Raver).
The vibrant characters translate into simplistic animation, which is fitting considering that this saga is geared toward a younger demographic. The classic animation style of black-outlines and solid colors keep the visuals simple and smooth. The story isn’t flashy and crazy and neither is the art.
My only real disappointment in this film was the absence of Ghost-Spider. In the advertisements and promotional materials regarding MARVEL RISING in general, her character seemed like she would be the centerpiece of the saga. She’s not in this film at all.
I’m hoping that this isn’t the last we see of this team of oddballs. The ending left it open for future adventures, and I’m optimistic that Disney/Marvel will take advantage.