Ms. Marvel is a great live-action introduction to a character that will steal viewers’ hearts. Within the first two episodes, it’s clear that this is a coming-of-age type of story, an awakening of Kamala Khan as she navigates multiple issues. It’s exciting to see a new perspective on the coming-of-age tale, with the focus on a Muslim-American hero brought to us by showrunner Bisha K. Ali.
With only six episodes, Ali needs to make quick work in establishing the groundwork to set Kamala up for what’s to come in Phase 4. As of this time, though, it’s difficult to say whether that has been achieved just based on the first two episodes provided.
Ms. Marvel introduces us to Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a Muslim American teenager growing up in Jersey City (a brief break from the perils of being a supe in New York – the general epicenter of MCU activity). Kamala is a geeky gal, someone I personally would have gravitated to in school. She draws her own fanfiction, plays videogames, and she’s a superhero-obsessed fiend.
While she pursues the things she enjoys, like most teenagers, she doesn’t feel like she fits in. This feeling extends to both her life at school and at home, where her interests appear to clash with what her family would want from her. Though, as a general sidenote, Kamala’s parents do try to find ways to compromise.
Kamala isn’t without friends, though. Viewers are introduced to her two friends, Bruno Carrelli (Matt Lintz) and Nakia Bahadir (Yasmeen Fletcher). Bruno is a highly intelligent tech whiz and seems to be the friend that she can confide in about all her nerdy interests.
Nakia, on the other hand, is the friend more intimately connected to Kamala’s culture. Even still, Nakia is aiming to up end the system, and Kamala is there to support.
Full disclosure, Ms. Marvel is the first MCU hero that I do not have prior reading history on. That said, after watching the first two episodes, I’d be surprised if others didn’t immediately go out and try to find comic issues featuring the titular character.
Part of this has to do with Iman Vellani’s performance. Her Kamala Khan is awkward, charming, and relatable. A stellar pick for the role.
The cast of characters around Kamala Khan are handled well, with many having their separate moments to shine. However, no one pulls focus away from Vellani’s Kamala. From a directing and writing standpoint, this helps immensely. We only get such a brief time with Kamala that we don’t want to be distracted away from her.
A major highlight of Ms. Marvel is how the team has captured the inner world of Kamala. Seeing her ideas animated in real-time as she interacts with her surroundings was a blast. It also helps keep things rooted in the comicbook-verse.
On the flip side, the execution of Kamala Khan’s powers in the series is going to be discussed a fair amount. At the time of this review, it already has been. Again, I can’t speak of the power changes as I haven’t read the comics focusing on the character.
However, her powers didn’t read as immersive or as blended in onscreen as expected. Just a little tweaking in post, and it could read less jarring and better transitioned onscreen.
A big component of Ms. Marvel is the cultural aspects represented onscreen. Unfortunately, I cannot speak to whether what is represented onscreen is accurate or not. So, I recommend readers check out the perspectives of critics like Tariq Raouf, Swara Salih, and Maryam Ahmad for further insight into this area of the show.
With Ms. Marvel being a miniseries, there is a concern that the show may be juggling too much. There are mysteries introduced in the first two episodes that might pull the show in a handful of directions. With such a short episode order, having too many story elements may frustrate viewers more than not. The show might lose its core identity if this happens. Hopefully, this isn’t the case.
Way lighter in tone compared to the recently-concluded Moon Knight, the mystery that drops at the end of Episode 2 should have viewers invested. That is if they aren’t already invested in the delightful Kamala Khan. Iman Vellani is a bright spot of joy in the MCU that feels needed after the darker tone things have taken in recent years.
That said, knowing that Ms. Marvel only has so many episodes, it’ll be an experiment to see how well things get wrapped. But, with the knowledge that this sets Kamala up for The Marvels, there is wiggle room there. Plus, it’s the MCU. Something always needs to remain open to set up the next round of shenanigans.
For now, all we can do is wait and see how the show plays out. And, while you wait around, make sure you go out and snag yourself some new comics. I know I plan to after getting the chance to peek at these Ms. Marvel episodes.
Ms. Marvel will air weekly on Disney+ starting on June 8, 2022.