Ms Marvel review
The new female in the Marvel universe will become an instant celebrity. In this happy coming-of-age story, she’s hilarious, charming, and defies stereotypes with ease. Allow the nerd females to take over the world!
In Ms Marvel (Disney+), the latest small-screen entry into the MCU, a superhero – and a star – is born. Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teen, is Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, with a solo comic book series that debuted in 2014. The miniseries tells her genesis narrative, departing from the source material and humanizing it in the process.
Iman Vellani stars in her debut acting role, which is incredible considering her charisma, comic timing, and dramatic abilities in every scene. Her second appearance will be in the next Marvel film, The Marvels (I trust you’re clear on the fact that we’re in the Marvel world for the length of this piece), which is a sequel to Captain Marvel and follows Carole Danvers/Captain Marvel and our Ms. Marvel. Normally, you’d be worried about a young performer, but Vellani looks so destined for purple that you almost have to shrug and tell her, as an older might to a budding superhero in – well, I don’t know, the MCU perhaps – that it’s her fate.
What about the show itself? Only two episodes have been made available for viewing, but they are fantastic. So far, there isn’t much of a plot. At the moment, it’s as much a coming-of-age story as it is a superhero origin story. Kamala is a sixteen-year-old artist, vlogger, and ardent fan of the Avengers in general and Captain Marvel in particular. We meet her as she narrates her latest animated story about them with zeal.
First Muslim Superhero
The first episode spends the majority of its time with her trying to persuade her parents to let her go to the Avengers comic convention, which is a bus ride away, refine her Ms Marvel costume, and appease the school principal when she is summoned to his office for her constant “doodling” and daydreaming. Although I’m sure it will be overshadowed by the greater joy and significance of seeing a Muslim character come to life, I just want to emphasize how wonderful it is to see an accurate, loving, and unadulterated depiction of passionate female fandom, which is so often mocked or ignored while boy geeks inherit the world.
Cinderella eventually makes it to the costume ball with the help of her best friend, Bruno (Matt Lintz), who is also a tech genius. She has the power to shoot energy beams that take on a sort-of-solid shape and allow her to step on to platforms she can construct ahead of herself in the air, as an alternative to flying or superspeed, when she adds an old family bangle to her outfit at the last minute.
The bracelet allows Kamala’s powers to be linked to her Pakistani ancestry, namely the agony of Partition. It belonged to her great-grandmother, who was one of the many people who vanished at that period and who appears to be backchanneling towards Kamala via her abilities.
By the end of the second episode, there’s a lovely twist that promises a fulfilling development of this theme, but the early episodes’ biggest strength is the home scenes and familial ties. Kamala’s culture and religion are depicted in both big and small ways, in big ways (we see her and her friend Nakia, played by Yasmeen Fletcher, at prayer in the mosque – and complaining about the state of the women’s side compared to the men’s) and small ways (we see her and her friend Nakia, played by Yasmeen Fletcher, at prayer in the mosque – and complaining about the state of the women’s side compared (Kamala was scared of the Djinn in the dark when young, not ghosts).
Some may interpret Kamala’s efforts to escape her family’s restrictions as yet another unwarranted depiction of Islam’s repressive attitudes toward women, but I believe most will see it for what Bisha K Ali, the show’s creator and head writer, clearly intended – a simple acknowledgement that parents of all faiths and colors will parent and provide grist to any teen angst mill.
The Khans are an ordinary family – though mother Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) has a gift for deadpan sarcasm that many parents wish they had – who exist in the bickering, teasing, loving, forgiving round, not as a bolt-on in the service of some mad notion of 2022 “wokeness,” whatever some are doubtless already limbering up to claim – who exist in the bickering, teasing, loving
The whole piece is full of charm, wit, warmth, brio, and honesty (especially the graffiti that animates when Kamala and her ever-active imagination go by). It’s simply – I’m frightened I’m going to say this – it’s just Marvel-ous. We have a modest request. Every day, millions of people come to the Guardian for open, independent, and high-quality news, and we now have readers in 180 countries.
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