Review: Ms. Marvel Is The Absolute Perfect MCU Debut Of Any Character So Far!
There are so many Marvel Cinematic Universe characters at this point, that introducing a new one is kind of difficult. Recently, Moon Knight did it with mixed results, and the lore of that Disney+ series definitely has some implications for the larger MCU. But I gotta say, that after having seen the Ms. Marvel premiere episode, this is the best MCU debut thus far! Ms. Marvel is a delightfully refreshing new Marvel Studios series that properly captures the essence of a teen girl coming into her own. Actually, let me quickly rephrase that— a Pakistani teen girl living in Jersey with her predominantly Muslim family, trying to figure out her new mysterious powers, even though she can’t even go out after dark.
As a South Asian person who’s lived most of his life in North America, Ms. Marvel is the first American content I’ve seen that gets so much right. And it’s absolutely wonderful. Read on for my non-spoiler review of the Ms. Marvel premiere episode.
Who Is Ms. Marvel And Why Is She A Big Deal?
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Ms. Marvel is a big deal. It’s the first-ever South Asian and Muslim superhero joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The character comes from a comic book hero who is also a Pakistani Muslim, created by Sana Amanat. Secondly, Ms. Marvel is also the newest of the second-generation MCU heroes who idolize and aspire to be existing heroes of their world. We saw this first in Hawkeye, as Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) fangirl’d over Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). And after Ms. Marvel, we’ve got the She-Hulk series, who is literally related to the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). The next in this line of superheroes, Ms. Marvel is a giant leap forward when it comes to the representation of diverse characters in the MCU.
And while the Ms. Marvel premiere episode stumbles a little bit, it gains enough goodwill to overlook the somewhat formulaic aspects of the first two episodes. My first impression of Ms. Marvel was that it’s a cross between To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Never Have I Ever. Coming of age teenage stories about young women trying to navigate their lives, loves and family. But Ms. Marvel is so much more than that. The story of Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is not entirely a new one, but its setting is wonderfully different. On its surface, it’s the typical Peter Parker-like story of a teen trying to reconcile their already challenging teenage life, with that of wanting to be a superhero. And finally getting to be one. But what sets Ms. Marvel apart from the typical teen superhero stories, is her last name.
Ms. Marvel Premiere Episode Introduces The Character’s Culture To The MCU
Kamala being a Pakistani Muslim girl features pretty heavily in the story. Unlike the typical strict parents, being a young girl from a conservative immigrant family is that much more complicated. Even taking out the superhero elements of her story, this part is something that young girls of such families can easily relate to. Not getting to be like other girls, not being allowed out, and having to do normal teenage things with as much difficulty as trying to get the Infinity Gauntlet off of Thanos’s arm. Kamala’s life is hard!
But the creator and head writer of Ms. Marvel, Bisha K. Ali, knows what she’s doing. The Muslim family elements are so painfully accurate, that I was reliving my own high school days of having to skirt around my parents’ plans for my life. Not to mention the onslaught of the powerful Brown Mom guilt that engulfs you in a sea of shame if you have one errant thought. But there are also the sweet and hilarious dynamics of the loving father, the protective older brother and the gossipy Aunties. It’s all so damn good! And all of this is supported brilliantly by the amazing Ms. Marvel cast of recognizable South Asian actors.
Ms. Marvel Cast Is A Sea Of Incredible Talent Just Killing It
The Ms. Marvel cast is an absolute revelation. The matriarch of her family, Muneeba Khan played by Zenobia Shroff is a delight! She is the driving force behind Kamal’s connection to her family, and the one who always says ‘no’. She represents all the inhibitions and restrictions of the culture that Kamala comes from. And navigating that relationship is honestly going to be the most interesting non-superhero element of Ms. Marvel. It’s similar to another mother-daughter relationship we witnessed recently from Disney in Turning Red. Adding to these elements is the amazingly cute, but ultimately powerless father Yusuf Khan played by the veteran Bollywood actor Mohan Kapur. Kamala’s partner in nerd-crime is Bruno (Matt Lintz) and her fellow Muslim bestie is Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher).
Nakia has a great arc of her own in a show that is seemingly not all about teenage superhero life. Which creates a great balance in the show, but is also servicing Kamala’s own attempts to figure out who she is. The Ms. Marvel cast is full of these insanely amazing and recognizable (to Bollywood fans) actors in small and large roles. It’s all kinds of great!
Ms. Marvel Premiere Episode Review Doesn’t Spoil A Thing
This review of the Ms. Marvel premiere episode doesn’t really include a lot of spoilers. The show thus far introduces all of Kamala’s challenges, and how she’s going to deal with her newfound powers. Sure, so much of it is a formulaic approach to the origin story of a teenage superhero. And if we’re being honest, episode 1 was a little too frantic for me. But Iman Vellani’s charm really overwhelms any complaints you could have about the Ms. Marvel premiere episode. It’s almost surprising to know that this is the first thing that Velani’s ever done as an actress, given how effortlessly funny, full of life and dramatic her performance is.
Despite the incredilble supporting cast, Velani’s full of life enthusiasm on screen really sells herself as a superhero fangirl, and makes it so easy for an audience so invest in her adventures. She is a treasure and one of the best debuts in the MCU. I can’t wait to see her’s and Kamala’s journey unfold in the MCU.
Ms. Marvel works on multiple levels, the predominant of which is the experience of a being young Pakistani girl in America, trying to grapple with superpowers and a conservative Muslim family. It’s sweet, wonderful and a giant leap for representation in the MCU that doesn’t feel forced or like it’s pandering to anyone. I honestly can’t wait for you all to experience the joy that is Ms. Marvel.
Although, so far, there’s been no sign of one of my Bollywood favs, Farhan Akhtar, or Pakistani heartthrob (understatement) Fawad Khan, in either of Ms. Marvel’s first two episodes. But, I’ll hold off on my disappointment until I see more.
Ms. Marvel’s release date is set for June 8, 2022, on Disney+.
Are you excited for the next generation of the MCU with Ms. Marvel? How do you feel about this being the MCU’s first Muslim superhero? Let me know in the comments below. Or reach out to me on Twitter at @theshahshahid.
Featured image via Disney+.