This is… cosmic. Disney+’s latest addition to the MCU, Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel, is possibly the most refreshing show I’ve seen this year. Kamala Khan has made her debut, and she’s going to be a star.
Ms. Marvel stars Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. Filling out the supporting cast is Matt Linz as Bruno Carrelli, Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia, and Laura Marsden as Zoey Zimmer. Kamala’s family is played by Mohan Kapoor (Yusuf/Dad), Zenobia Shroff (Muneeba/Mom), and Saagar Shaikh (Aamir/Brother). Other characters of note include Rish Shah (Kamran), Nimra Bucha (Najma), Aramis Knight (Kareem), Adrian Moayed, and Alysia Reiner (Damage Control).
Before reviewing the episode, I want to talk about Kamala’s history. “Ms. Marvel” was created by Sana Amanat, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona in 2013. In the decade since her creation, Kamala has been a central figure in many plotlines such as “Civil War II” and the “Marvel’s Avengers” video game.
Kamala, in the comics, is a Muslim American teenager living in Jersey City who was one day exposed to Terrigen Mist, unlocking her Inhuman abilities. The mist gave her the ability to stretch her body parts like Mr. Fantastic. She can also shrink or enlarge her body. In recent iterations, she can change the shape and hardness of her fists.
As the first Muslim American superhero, Kamala has given necessary representation to a marginalized group. And best of all, Kamala is just a relatable teenage girl facing the same problems as the readers. Some could consider her this generation’s Peter Parker. Now, let’s talk about the Disney+ show.
Spoilers for All 6 episodes of Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel is probably the best Marvel/Disney+ show since WandaVision… for the first 3 episodes. The editing is pitch perfect. It matches the feeling and energy of Kamala. One of the most impressive aspects is how they implement text conversations, for example: having the words appear in neon lights near the characters. We are even occasionally treated to seeing how Kamala sees the world. When she meets Kamran for the first time, we see fire and 100 in emoji/doodle style. It’s a little cheesy but very fitting of Kamala’s personality.
The end credits for all the Marvel shows so far have matched the feeling and style of their shows. For me personally, Ms. Marvel’s end credits are the best. The references to Ms. Marvel’s iconic comic book covers…chef’s kiss. The Pakistani-inspired music is a vibe. There are also two versions of the credits: one in Jersey City and the other in Karachi.
Okay, let’s address the glow-y elephant in the room: Kamala’s powers. I understand that no one wants to deal with the hassle of making people stretch like Mr. Fantastic. The hard light they use instead is kinda cool and a nice dig at DC by Marvel. But I will never forgive Marvel for throwing out Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show had a perfect explanation for why Kamala would be an Inhuman. At first, I was going to get over it because they decided to tie
Kamala’s powers to her culture. But they kept changing the origins: first, she was a Djinn, then a descendant of extra-dimensional beings, and finally, at the end of the series, she’s potentially a mutant. Why!?!
My other complaint about the series is a complaint that many have for all the Disney+ shows. Most of these shows are not written as shows; they are written as six-hour movies. The real problem is that the writers have ideas for maybe 3 hours but still need to fill the other 3. There are always at least 2 episodes in these 6-episode series that are either unnecessary or kill the momentum of the series. These shows either need to be 13 episodes or made into movies.
What’s really upsetting is that this show had so much potential at the start. Episodes 4 and 5 were even okay for worldbuilding but do very little in advancing the plot. At first, it felt like this was a simple coming-of-age, superhero origin story. Then, there’s a potential end-of-the-world plot that wraps up in episode 5. Then, the finale is all about protecting Kamran, not Kamala, from Damage Control. This show is still really good, but it suffers from whatever executive
decided streaming shows can only be 6 episodes long.
Before I wrap up, I have to praise the entire cast. Besides the amazing representation of Southwest Asian culture and Muslim communities, Iman Vellani is a perfect Ms. Marvel. Like how RDJ is Tony Stark or Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, Iman is Ms. Marvel in every way. She’s bright, funny, a superhero fan, and just the character come to life. I also give props to Matt Linz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Zenobia Shroff, and especially Mohan Kapoor. They all played their characters extremely well. I can’t explain why but I think the dad is my second favorite character.
Here are a few other highlights of the series. Episode 1 is a perfect series opener. In episode 3, there’s a whole Pakistani/Muslim/Bollywood wedding scene that is absolutely lit. How the Mosque behaves when Damage Control comes looking for Kamala and Kamran, felt true to life. Seeing Kamala’s costume come together piece by piece made the wait worth it. Seeing the community rallying around Kamala against Damage Control, including the local police, was very satisfying. Also, she says, “Embiggen”.
The final moments of the series did something I did not expect at all. As some of you know, Ms. Marvel will be joining Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau in The Marvels. We now know that part of that plot will involve Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel switching places. This does make me a little more excited to see The Marvels in 2023.
All episodes of Ms. Marvel are now streaming on Disney+.
TL/DR: Ms. Marvel has a strong start, great acting, and a distinct personality.
Episodes 4 and 5 drag the show down a bit.
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