By John Hanlon
As the Marvel Universe has expanded, their television programs seem to have gotten bigger and bigger with many of the newest ones building their own unique worlds.
The new Disney + series Ms. Marvel isn’t like that (at least in the first two episodes that were available for review). Instead of aiming for something massive and awe-inspiring, the program starts with a simple concept and takes the time to build something that’s more personal, more relatable and ultimately more memorable.
The show introduces Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, a high school student who wants to win a costume contest at the upcoming AvengerCon, a convention celebrated all things Avenger-related. With the help of her loyal friend Bruno (Matt Lintz), Kamala plans to dress up like Captain Marvel, a hero she looks up to.
Because of the tight costume and her constant daydreaming though, Kamala’s mother Muneeba (Zenobia Scroff) objects to her plans. “It’s time to stop fantasizing,” she says, urging her daughter to focus on other things.
The series' early focus on a youngster dreaming of following her dreams despite her parent’s wishes is nothing new but this program offers a fresh life that makes it stand out. Created for television by Bisha K. Ali, the show has a wonderful imaginative spirit. From the fun way in which text messages between Kamala and Bruno are displayed to the way that graffiti comes alive in the background, there’s an energy on display here that help make even simple sequences come alive.
By the end of the first episode, Kamala realizes that she has super abilities but her powers aren’t immediately understood. In fact, the second episode shows how she’s forced to test herself to find out what she can and can’t do. Again, the show plays around with the concept, offering some fun scenes where the two teenage main characters play around with different ideas. Like teenagers, they struggle and stumble along the way.
Kamala never seems like a traditional superhero and the show thrives exploring her unique point of view. “It’s not usually the brown girls from Jersey City who save the world,” she states. Yet, she’s the star here and the program never shies away from her Pakistani background, her Muslim faith or her identity. She’s not a typical superhero and this isn’t a traditional show. It’s full of personality and creativity and a vibrant sense of excitement that keeps even the familiar beats feeling special.
The second episode here opens the door for a potential mystery related to the inception of Kamala’s powers. The mystery, however, isn’t half as exciting as the characters themselves. Vellani and Lintz are great as the two main characters and their friendship — despite their different backgrounds— lies at the heart of the story. They are the reason to keep watching.
After so many other Marvel films and television series, it’s sometimes difficult to get excited about the next one but Ms. Marvel is different. It feels fresh and offers a unique perspective. The character of Kamala and the series itself could help remind audiences of why they fell in love with the Marvel universe to being with.