Ms. Marvel review: Refreshing, confident, and a complete delight

Ms. Marvel review: Refreshing, confident, and a complete delight

Ms. Marvel review: Refreshing, confident, and a complete delight

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Ms. Marvel — premiering Wednesday on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — is the most refreshing and confident Marvel Cinematic Universe series since WandaVision. That might not sound like much, considering everything else has been hit-or-miss. In fact, mostly missed, except for the time jump with the god of mischief in Loki. Those who have read my reviews and episodic recaps will already know that I gave the 👎🏼 to the New York Christmas Comedy Hawk Eyethe Egyptian adventure with mostly white men Moon Knight, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Who Fired His Shots. In that case, allow me to revise my opening statement. Ms. Marvel is a complete delight, one that’s relatable, enjoyable, unique, and downright funny in equal parts — a breath of fresh air that MCU-on-TV needed.


This is true for at least the first two episodes of Ms. Marvel which critics, including me, have had access to. (There are six episodes in total, like other MCU shows, so I’ve seen a third of the series.) Ms. MarvelThe success of is due to it being inspired by its Marvel comics — Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel co-creator Sana Amanat serves as a co-executive producer here — in more ways than one. Its titular protagonist loves to fantasize and doodle, and as such, his chats and conversations are turned into larger-than-life animation on walls, printed on roads, or take over neon lights and building signage. For me, it reminded me of both Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In their vein, Ms. MarvelThe comic-inspired stylizations are perfect.

And it’s the same elsewhere too. Having the task of introducing the MCU’s first Muslim superhero – Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan – Ms. Marvel does a great job of weaving Urdu, South Asian mannerisms, and other localizations into its episodes. It looks like a believable world. But not always. Ms. Marvel wears its love for Bollywood music and movies on its sleeve, but the outdated character of a deep Shah Rukh Khan reference reflects the writers’ age more than its cast. While Ms. MarvelPakistani-British creator and head writer Bisha K. Ali (Loki episode 3) is a millennial, the teens on his show were born in the late 2000s. He does best with his needles, most of which are South Asian music, as they add flavor and humor of the scene for those who know its cultural place.

Everything you need to know about Ms. Marvelthe new Marvel series

Set in Jersey City, New Jersey, a year or two after Avengers: Endgame, Ms. Marvel centers on the aforementioned 16-year-old Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), who loves Captain Marvel and creates Avengers fanfiction. Naturally then, she wants to attend the first AvengerCon – think ComicCon, but the Avengers – and participate in the cosplay competition as Captain Marvel. His problems are tiny, very teenage problems. This makes Ms. Marvel very similar to the teenage issues of Spider-Man and Peter Parker, except in a very different setting and with a very different protagonist. And unlike the last Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel is very much an origin story, something the MCU decided to skip given the many adaptations of Spider-Man.

While this may be Kamala’s first live-action appearance, Ms. Marvel’s journey from page to page isn’t just a performance. The biggest change is to his powers. While Kamala retains the extendable hands from the comics, her powers are more light-focused. She can shoot beams of photons from her hands and create platforms from light that hover in the air. “Cosmic!” as Kamala shouts in the first episode. In fact, his early antics earned him the nickname Night Light. Also, the origin of Kamala’s powers has nothing to do with “sleeping Inhuman abilities” like in the comics – Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige noted that it doesn’t align with the events and the story. MCU timeline – but rather a bracelet artifact she gets in the mail from her Nani (maternal grandmother).

Ms. Marvel is to link it to Kamala’s Pakistani heritage, which is similar to what Black Panther and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings did so for their respective characters. For Kamala, it involves her maternal great-grandmother who brought “shame” to the family – a powerful force in Asian communities – and why her parents don’t really want to talk about her. (Kamala tries to get answers from the outside, and it’s just gossip and a bunch of overblown rumors. Typical again.) Kamala’s immigrant Pakistani parents, Yusuf (Mohan Kapur) and Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), are also stricter with her than they are with her older brother Aamir (Saagar Shaikh) – he has a lot more freedom and his Muslim fiancée is not Pakistani – which is also a South Asian thing.

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Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia and Matt Lintz as Bruno in Ms. Marvel
Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/Marvel Studios

For the first two episodes, Ms. Marvel A lot of it is about Kamala trying to gain some freedom from her parents, making good use of her powers, and learning more about the family’s past. There’s a bit of Shazam! at one point, as Kamala and his best friend Bruno Carrelli (Matt Lintz) — he really likes gadgets, and what Ned is to Peter in the MCU’s Spider-Man — discover his newfound powers. Kamala also pushes her wealthy friend Nakia Bahadir (Yasmeen Fletcher) to run for the mosque’s board of directors. Ms. Marvel Also throws in a romantic first love angle, with freshman Kamala falling for a new senior in Kamran (Rish Shah) who is presented in the whitest way ever. And her superpowers give her a newfound confidence in school, as she begins to be more sure of herself.

This also goes for actors and creators, expanding on what I said at the start. Ms. Marvel is a sure start for Vellani and Ali. The latter has little experience on this scale, apart from her position as editor on the show directed by Tom Hiddleston. Loki. But Ali knows the tone, style and approach she takes with her series. And she delivers in spades. And yet Ms. Marvel admittedly slips into that generic Marvel groove that all MCU properties are ultimately guilty of – and I include Black Panther here – it stands on its own and charts its own hilarious and glorious path for the most part.

The first, Vellani, may be a newcomer — she has made a few short films on her own, but Ms. Marvel is her first feature film project, but the 19-year-old Pakistani-Canadian nails every note asked of her, be it comedy or drama. Much of the Marvel show’s energy is due to its Kamala performance and demeanor. Vellani, and in turn Ms. Marvel, is aided by a list of characters that catch your eye. This includes Jordan Firstman in a minor role as easy-going school principal Mr. Wilson. (Sorry, please call him Gabe, Mr. Wilson is his father.) Kamala’s mother, Muneeba, is also easy to love, despite her tough exterior. Shroff is an instant hit, delivering the necessary sighs and reactions that any Pakistani/South Asian mother would do perfectly.

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Mohan Kapur as Yusuf, Iman Vellani as Kamala, Zenobia Shroff as Muneeba and Saagar Shaikh as Aamir in Ms. Marvel
Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/Marvel Studios

Deep in the first episode, Kamala tells Bruno, “It’s not the brunette girls of Jersey City saving the day.” But as Ms. Marvel is there to show, they very well can – and do. The latest MCU project expands Marvel Studios’ inclusion efforts, which have been ramped up in recent years. (Meanwhile, Sony Pictures has given us its third live-action White Spider-Man in a row.)

What could be more interesting for me with Ms. Marvel but it is that Kamala and Co. did not know a world without superheroes. With Ms. Marvel, we’re given a glimpse into the generation that grew up in the Age of Heroes – Kamala lives and breathes superheroes, just like many teenagers in our universe – and is now finding her place in the world as he comes of age. The depth of Ms. MarvelThe immersion in Marvel and superhero culture speaks volumes about how the MCU isn’t just a force in our world. It is also a force in its own imaginary world. Essentially, the MCU has been around for so long now that, in a way, its heroes now breed more heroes.

For me, the closest analogy is men’s tennis. The greats of the game have been around for so long that they sometimes compete against teenagers who trained with them or started the sport after watching them play. (It happened this weekend at the 2022 French Open, where serial winner Rafael Nadal beat his former student Casper Rudd.) And it will be something similar for Kamala Khan, as she is expected to fight at the alongside her idol Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) on The Marvels, the sequel to Captain Marvel will be released in July 2023. It’s a wonderful world, and Ms. Marvel shows that Kamala is ready to make it her own.

Ms. Marvel premieres Wednesday, June 8 on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar. A new episode will air every Wednesday around 12:30 p.m. IST / 12 p.m. PT until July 13.

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