The Marvels Trailer Requires Knowledge Of WandaVision And Ms. Marvel – Here's What You Need To Know

It wasn't that long ago that Marvel Studios' plan to create a closely interconnected movie and TV universe sounded like poppycock. What if one of the films bombed or nobody tuned in for a particular show? For over a decade, the House of Ideas managed to avoid these roadblocks thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe's domination of the box office, coupled with the loose — and, if we're being honest, almost completely one-sided — ties between the MCU's movies and the live-action series produced under the now-defunct Marvel Television banner. It's why few panicked when ABC's "Inhumans" died on the way back to its home planet or Netflix's "Defenders" shows were casually picked off, slasher-style, in the lead-up to Disney+ launching.

However, now that Marvel has consolidated its movie and TV divisions under one roof, we're beginning to see the drawbacks of this approach. It was often near-impossible to watch the MCU's Phase 4 films and expect to come away with any clear understanding of what is even going on without also watching Marvel's Disney+ series, and vice versa. That will remain the case with "The Marvels," a Phase 5 movie that looks to center equally on Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), the adult Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), the latter two of whom have yet to appear in the MCU outside of "WandaVision" and "Ms. Marvel."

If you've caught those series, the "Marvels" teaser trailer probably left you with a big grin on your face, seeing the enthusiastic Avengers fangirl-turned-superhero Kamala come face-to-face with Carol (juxtaposed with the latter's confusion at finding her face plastered all over Kamala's bedroom). As for those who haven't and have struggled to keep up with the recent plethora of MCU material in general, that's perfectly understandable! Allow us to help.

The Westview incident

The last time we saw her on the big screen during "Captain Marvel," Monica was a little girl (played by Akira Akbar) starstruck to meet her mother Maria's bestie Carol. As "WandaVision" revealed, Maria would go on to establish S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), a government agency dedicated to handling other-worldly threats to Earth that would employ the grown-up Monica as an agent. Then, tragedy struck; during a visit to the hospital with her mother, Monica was wiped out of existence by Thanos' snap, only to return five years later and learn Maria had died from cancer while she was gone.

Still in mourning, Monica took on a seemingly minor case for S.W.O.R.D. to distract herself, only to uncover the enchanted alternate reality (aka the Hex) that Wanda Maximoff — spurred by her grief from losing Vision — had conjured in the city of Westview. Although Monica managed to infiltrate Westview and briefly pass herself off as a resident, she was eventually found out and Wanda expelled her before expanding the Hex. Being all the more sympathetic to Wanda in light of her mother's death, Monica defied her boss at S.W.O.R.D. by re-entering the bolstered Hex, which unexpectedly caused her cells to be rewritten, granting her energy-based superpowers that ultimately helped her break through to Wanda.

Notably, "The Marvels" hails from writer/director Nia DaCosta. With her feature debut, "Little Woods," DaCosta crafted a story of women struggling to support one another under extreme circumstances. Meanwhile, her second film, 2021's "Candyman," allowed DaCosta to try her hand at a story about familial legacy and trauma within an established franchise. In that regard, "The Marvels" and especially Monica's storyline — which will explore her complicated history with Carol — serves as an amalgamation of DaCosta's previous work.

Meanwhile, in Jersey City...

In contrast to Monica on "WandaVision," Kamala was by and large baggage-free when we met her on "Ms. Marvel." An artistic 16-year-old Pakistani-American high schooler who avidly adores the Avengers but particularly Carol Danvers, Kamala was primarily concerned with things like passing her driver's test and sneaking out to AvengerCon (in her own Captain Marvel cosplay outfit, natch) after being forbidden to do so by her parents. That is until Kamala received a mysterious golden bangle from her grandmother Sana (Samina Ahmad) that seemingly allows her to generate objects out of cosmic energy, inspiring her to fashion a superhero identity of her own in the style of her idol.

Because of this, Kamala quickly attracted the attention of the Clandestines, a group of super-powered beings who claimed to be "Djinns" but were actually beings from another dimension determined to return home by any means. Over the course of their encounters, Kamala came to learn more about her family's history, including the link between the Clandestines, her bangle, and her great-grandmother Aisha (Mehwish Hayat), and that Kamala herself was the enigmatic savior mentioned in her grandmother's stories about her childhood experiences during the Partition of India (thanks to some wibbly wobbly, timey wimey plot stuff). There was also a larger conflict between the Department of Damage Control and Kamala, but it ultimately worked itself out, with Kamala's community embracing her and Kamala adopting her superhero moniker.

In addition to all that, Kamala eventually learned she possesses a unique genetic mutation, which may or may not factor directly into the plot of "The Marvels." In either scenario, the themes about familial legacy and trauma from "Ms. Marvel" make Kamala and her backstory a fitting addition to the narrative tapestry Nia DaCosta seems to be weaving with "The Marvels."

2 Plot 2 Much?

As ought to be apparent by this point, there's already a whole lot of backstory in place for "The Marvels," so much so that Nia DaCosta has her work cut out for her, trying to service Carol, Monica, and Kamala equally as characters while at the same time crafting an engaging narrative that can also stand on its own to some degree. That's without even touching on the potential fallout of "Secret Invasion," which is slated to reach Disney+ between now and "The Marvels" opening in theaters. The series, for those who are not familiar, centers on Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) — who additionally shows up in the "Marvels" teaser trailer — and his Skrull pal Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) from "Captain Marvel" attempting to untangle a global conspiracy to instill Skrulls in high ranking positions of power across the Earth.

Compare that to "Captain Marvel," a film that was technically a prequel to "Iron Man" and, as such, could be enjoyed with only limited knowledge of the greater MCU. After the box office disappointment of "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," which was billed as no less than an "Avengers"-level event yet required a thorough knowledge of both of the previous "Ant-Man" films and "Loki" season 1 to fully appreciate, it seems the House of Ideas can no longer take it for granted that audiences will turn out in massive numbers for movies that call on them to do extra homework ahead of time. Then again, Scott Lang's no Carol Danvers, and if reviews are on its side (unlike "Quantumania"), "The Marvels" might have an easier time convincing more casual viewers to give it a shot. 

It may even inspire them to finally watch "WandaVision" and "Ms. Marvel" – as they should!

"The Marvels" hits theaters on November 10, 2023.