REVIEW: Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors Brims With Heart & Hope

Marvel Rising Secret Warriors

On Sunday, Marvel Rising will return to television with its first animated feature. Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors will bring together fan-favorite characters like Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Quake and Patriot for a new adventure that will see them fighting to save New York City and beyond. Despite a few hiccups in the animation, the 80-minute feature is sure to win the hearts of Marvel fans young and old.

First, it's worth noting that Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors is very much geared towards a younger audience. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, of course; adults will find just as much to enjoy here as kids do. Because of this, though, the animated feature is rife with strong themes and obvious morals. The heart of Secret Warriors lies in its message of acceptance, and -- like Squirrel Girl -- it eagerly pursues this idea without worrying about what cynics might think. Secret Warriors takes a sincere approach to its subject matter, and the film is better for it. Marvel Rising simply would not work without this heartfelt drive behind it.

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That isn't to say Secret Warriors lacks complexity. On the contrary, the character dynamics in the film are anything but simple. Secret Warriors juggles its large cast with aplomb, weaving these strong personalities together in a comprehensive but organic way. Further, the film doesn't operate under the illusion that these characters would get along with one another 100% of the time. Even as they take on the bad guys, they have to learn how to resolve conflicts with one another, and there's something refreshingly real and grounded about that aspect of the film.

In terms of characterization, Secret Warriors is a fluid transition from the Marvel Rising: Initiation shorts, with everyone but Ghost-Spider returning. Secret Warriors maintains their status quo, solidifying the connection between the two projects, even though one can certainly jump into Secret Warriors without seeing Initiation first. This allows ample room to introduce new characters like Inferno and America Chavez. Their debuts are peppered along the events of the film and push the plot right along. No one feels shoved in or unnecessary here; each character has a certain role to play in accomplishing their mission. By the end of the film, all of our heroes are dynamic, well-rounded characters infused with vibrant life by a talented voice cast.

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Of all the characters introduced in the film, Cierra Ramirez's America Chavez is the standout. She is sure to be an instant fan-favorite. With an attitude and a penchant for stars, America is immediately gripping. Even on the visual level alone, she engages viewers with her star motif; the animators really came out to play with this aspect of the character, as the world erupts in stars every time she lands a punch or takes out her opponents with a forceful stomp. Secret Warriors also doesn't shy away from her background, which is welcome in a medium that so often struggles with LGBTQ representation.

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