It’s June 8th, and Disney+ has dropped the seventh original series expanding on the Marvel Studios universe with “Ms. Marvel.” As with the earlier “Moon Knight,” it follows a new (to the film and television MCU) character, Kamala Khan. Played by newcomer Iman Vellani, Kamala eventually becomes the titular Ms. Marvel. She also represents the first Muslim-American superhero to come to the big or small screens.
The series doesn’t immediately dovetail into the myriad existent Marvel Studios storylines. Instead, it picks up focusing on Kamala and her tribulations striving to balance her geeky fangirl side with the pressures from her traditional parents. She is a huge Captain Marvel fan and is excited to join her friends in attending an upcoming AvengersCon (which is an Avengers-themed fandom convention) and participate in the costume contest. Of course her parents aren’t quite so thrilled with her wanting to go out to an evening costume contest, but they wind up being supportive in their own way.
Kamala doesn’t start out with any particular powers (at least that she has realized thus far), and as they start to emerge, the charm with which Iman imbues her character only expands. Her bestie, Bruno (played by “The Walking Dead’s” Matt Lintz) asks her what they feel like, and her face glows just as much as her energy powers as she tells him, “Like an idea come to life.”
The first thing fans of the original comic are going to notice is that Marvel Studios has opted to change her powers. In the comics, she has super-healing combined with body-changing abilities similar to Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. Here, she has energy projection that she seems to be able to have some level control over. Though at the outset, it is the level of control that might remind someone more of The Greatest American Hero.
It’s great to see new perspectives and backgrounds represented on screen. Across the first two hour-long episodes sent out for review, the writers have made a good balance between giving a flavor of Kamala’s world with her family along with the superhero-ness without leaning too hard one way or the other.
While there have been a range of reactions from characters who have been more recently introduced to the Multiverse. We’ve followed along with the adventures of the Avengers and the rest (like when Ant-Man first meets Cap, or Kate Bishop fangirling over Hawkeye), but this is the first time when it feels more like what we see from our pop-culture fan friends gushing over their favorite characters. Kamala is a fan of Captain Marvel, so she’s knocked out a great cosplay to wear to a convention. There’s likely more than a few people who will be watching the series in the first week who won’t be able to entirely relate with the excitement of working up a new costume to join others in celebrating their favorite heroes.
Yes, the series is heavily wish-fulfillment, but it’s also highly relatable. With the characters being both endearing and genuine. If there’s any particular slight negative about the series across the first two installments of what is slated to be a six-episode season, we haven’t really gotten a sense of what the overall arc of the story will be. It might just be her discovering her powers, or getting her lined up to be able to dovetail into 2023’s MCU entry, “The Marvels.” That’s not to say that it’s not still engaging, but there’s a curiosity as to where it’s going.
Rating: 7 out of 10 stars.
“Ms. Marvel” episodes release on Wednesdays, only on Disney+.