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This is the origin story of Ms. Marvel, a.k.a. Kamala Khan, an ordinary Muslim American teenager and Captain Marvel superfan who discovers a family heirloom that gives her superpowers. With the help of her tech genius best friend she juggles her personal life—including high school and overprotective parents—while exploring her new powers and learning to become a hero in her own right.
Lead actress Iman Vellani is a new discovery but by all accounts she’s so perfectly cast she’s destined to become inseparable from the role of Kamala Khan (check out the behind-the-scenes short “A Fan’s Guide to Ms. Marvel” on Disney+ for the proof). She’s joined by Matt Lintz as her best friend and sidekick, Bruno Carreli (The Walking Dead). You may also recognize Arian Moayed (Succession, Inventing Anna) as Agent Cleary from the MCU’s Department of Damage Control, last seen in Spider Man: No Way Home. Showrunner Bisha K. Ali previously worked on Loki and The Baby. The series was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys For Life and Batgirl).
You could say that the only thing all the Disney+ original series so far have in common is that they are about comic-book heroes. Each show has its own signature style and tone that stand out from the others. Ms. Marvel is no different. Or, rather, it is different. In a great way. The CGI, soundtrack, character development, and storyline all have earned my stamp of approval.
The directors and writers place the audience in the world of a teenager, but not just an ordinary teen. Like so many who will be turning in to watch, Kamala Khan is a superhero fan. And then she becomes a superhero fan. Her introduction and the set up in the first episode make her immediately compelling. We see the constant friction between her and her very traditional parents and her desire to be her true self, outside her parents’ influence.
I really enjoyed how the environment reflects Kamala’s emotions throughout. There are moments when the color and tone change depending on what is going on in the scene (e.g. red and orange hues help depict Kamala’s moments of pure joy). I’m reminded of the films One Crazy Summer and Lizzie Mcguire when it comes to some of the animation used in the series. The camera work is dynamic and fast-paced, with quick cuts that draw you into the scenes and locations. When it comes to the soundtrack, I have to give it a thumbs up. It’s hip-hop, it’s pop, and there are even some throwback hits like “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the 80’s throwbacks and some of Kamala’s brief daydreams. The opening song, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd, combined with some cool illustrations is an exciting intro for viewers.
Within the first two episodes I already felt for the character because she’s trying to figure out her life as a teenager, understand where the future will lead her, deal with her emotions, and now adjust to having super powers. Not only do we see the challenges Kamala faces with her parents, but we see that it’s not one-sided. They are strict but loving, and there are moments when Kamala is quite hurtful towards them. The series explores more than just her life as a superhero; it deals with her home life, her cultural background, and her rich internal fantasy world. Her story feels similar to Spider-Man, who faced similar challenges as a young hero, but her enthusiasm and flights of fancy are even more relatable to the target audience. It’s nice to see a hero origin story that isn’t dark for once but filled with lighthearted enthusiasm.
Kamala’s relationship with her best friend Bruno is cute, and there are hints of romantic potential later on in the season (as if she didn’t have enough going on already). Bruno is a good sidekick, supportive of Kamala’s ideas and dreams both figuratively and literally, thanks to his engineering skills. The other characters, like her parents and older brother, add color and depth to the show, not to mention moments of comic relief. I really like what the writers are doing with the story of her family and her origin (even if it’s different from the comics).
Lastly, you can’t talk about the show without mentioning the huge step in representation it offers to kids of color. The introduction of Ms. Marvel in the comics was refreshing since she wasn’t just a token but a fully developed character (due in large part to creator G. Willow Wilson, a Muslim woman who just wanted to see herself reflected in the pages of a comic). Naturally, Captain Marvel is a role model and inspiration for Kamala, but she has moments where questions whether a “brown girl’ like her can even be a hero. Perhaps she’ll now become a role model to others so they don’t even have to ask the question.
Ms. Marvel is a fun and joyful teen superhero series that plays close to the comics and other cinematic influences, but ultimately follows its own path.
Friends and family (especially Marvel fans). This is the one show parents can watch with their children without any viewer discretion, just a funny and entertaining show.
Kamala Khan will appear alongside her hero in the upcoming Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels. She stars opposite Brie Larson as Captain Marvel and Teyonah Parris as Photon. Larson was originally set to make a cameo appearance in the series, but that reportedly fell through (unless it didn’t and they’re just trying to keep the surprise under wraps).