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Ms. Marvel: Series Premiere Review

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Ms. Marvel premieres on Disney+ on June 8, 2022. Below is a spoiler-free review.

Coming of age stories and superhero powers are a winning combination, with every iteration of Spider-Man demonstrating that high school is an ideal backdrop for dealing with a unique form of growing pains. The MCU’s Phase Four TV roster expands further with Iman Vellani’s introduction as Pakistani American teenager Kamala Khan in the vibrant first episode of Ms. Marvel. Whereas the recent MCU series Moon Knight avoided even mentioning the beloved Avengers characters, Ms. Marvel takes a significantly different approach with its lead character literally wearing her Captain Marvel fandom on her sleeve.

The premiere quickly establishes Kamala’s internal conflicts, home life, and the fantasies that occupy her every waking thought. Preview clips have revealed the significant changes from the source material regarding the origin of Kamala’s powers and how they manifest, which Kevin Feige has already addressed. Ms. Marvel is another piece in the expanding MCU, but thankfully, it also shines on its own. Questions of identity and belonging are a repeat superhero theme. Still, showrunner Bisha K. Ali is not doing a paint-by-numbers origin story with a multiculturalism twist. Instead, the first episode keeps the heart of the comic book while exploring how this beloved character fits into the MCU landscape in a visually arresting and fun manner.

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A Girl Divided

Living in Jersey City gives Kamala a view of Manhattan (and Avengers Tower), and it isn’t only a river that separates the teen from the bright lights of the Big Apple. With or without powers, high school is a fraught experience. Not only are there social situations to consider, but 16-year-old Kamala also has to start grappling with her future. College applications and career dreams are no longer a blip on the horizon, and fantasizing about Captain Marvel will not satisfy the demands of her parents — particularly her mother. Often, superheroes are torn between their powers and obligations, but Kamala’s divided self is evident in the first scene with her family. The immigrant story is at its most overt during an errand-run montage that doesn’t shy away from the various clothing and food stores Kamala goes to with her mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff).

Lines are lifted directly from the source material, but her relationship with her older brother, Aamir (Saagar Shaikh), is less combative. From the jump, the various dynamics of the Khan home feel lived in and identifiable. The push-pull that exists within Kamala is evident in how her parents approach raising a Muslim teenager in the United States. Muneeba is concerned with the usual boys and booze fears that run parallel to growing independence. The first episode does a good job of establishing more of Muneeba’s strict rules than the typical curfew-breaking behavior. There is a strong sense that this directly links to Kamala’s power source and her mother’s distinct lack of trust.

Kamala isn’t drowning in friends, but it is heartening to see that the popular student Zoe Zimmer (Laurel Marsden) avoids the mean girl trope. She isn’t exactly Kamala’s BFF either, as that spot is reserved for Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher). The latter doesn’t appear too much in the first outing and isn’t as developed as Bruno, and this is one area that requires attention in future episodes. Sure, Bruno is integral to the plot in this installment — and there are will-there-won’t-they vibes — but Kamala’s friendship with Nakia is also essential. Bruno works at the Circle Q convenience store as he does in the original comic, and there is a playful aspect to his presence within the Khan home.


Hero worship is central to the event that causes Kamala to defy her parents, and Feige has mentioned that AvengerCon is something they would consider turning into a reality. Of course, there are plenty of conventions (including the mammoth San Diego Comic-Con), and this fictional depiction of an all-Avengers celebration lacks grandeur. It is the inaugural event, so the rustic vibe could be considered a reflection of when conventions were in their infancy. Yet, considering the Avengers' fame levels in a post-Thanos world, its relatively small-scale size feels like a misstep in a premiere packed with aesthetic flourishes.

Throughout this first episode, Ms. Marvel is visually arresting in its mix of animation and live-action.

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (aka Adil & Bilall) effectively balance Kamala’s active imagination against the backdrop of Jersey City and the Khan home. Throughout this first episode, Ms. Marvel is visually arresting in its mix of animation and live-action, underscoring why this convention setting can’t quite hold a candle to the rest of the premiere. Otherwise, the directing team does an excellent job of establishing the disorientating elements of Kamala’s powers and mirroring these moments in other ways — such as when she flops down onto her bed.

The cosplay competition is an opportunity to reflect on how the Avengers have impacted the cultural climate of the fictional and real world. There is some whiplash for viewers going from watching new episodes of The Boys, which critiques the MCU (among other properties), to this rather wholesome depiction of fandom and hero worship. Ms. Marvel’s is in line with how Hawkeye depicts idolizing an Avenger, but without the real Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) rocking up to give Kamala some pointers. Expectations about what a hero typically looks like are also addressed, and the MCU has taken its sweet time getting here.

Iman Vellani

A lot rests on Canadian 19-year-old Iman Vellani’s shoulders, and from the voiceover in the opening credits, it is clear she is a star. Hawkeye is the nearest MCU series in terms of tone to Ms. Marvel, and Vellani is equally charming as Hailee Steinfeld — you would never know that this is her acting debut. It is a lot to put on the lead in the opening episode to portray Kamala’s struggle between wanting to embrace her passions while not alienating or hurting her family. Her relationship with both parents has already hit some stirring notes, and one stomach-churning moment accurately captures the shame of hurting those closest to you. Kamala is trying to be all things to everyone, and it is no surprise she is struggling. Clothing is one way to depict this back and forth, and costume designer Arjun Bhasin expertly captures an array of cosplay costumes that reflect this conflict. He also creates the kind of cosplay garment a teen would realistically be able to construct (Bruno’s cosplay choice is wonderfully low-key), and at no point does her interpretation seem like a stretch (excuse the pun).

As far as coming-of-age superhero stories go, this one certainly has a lot of legs (or arms), and it isn’t getting bogged down in teenage angst either. Captain Marvel doesn’t stick around on Earth, but who needs her when Kamala Khan is around?

An Embiggened Look at Ms. Marvel Since Her Debut


The MCU television slate continues to grow, and Ms. Marvel is already making a strong case for Kamala Khan as an exciting new addition. This coming-of-age story includes some familiar elements of a teenager struggling to figure out the path ahead. Still, the teenager’s Muslim faith and her parents’ expectations offer a new perspective. Directors Adil and Bilall immediately pull us in with solid visual flourishes, and Iman Vellani is an arresting lead. AvengerCon isn’t entirely on the scale we would expect, but otherwise, the Disney+ series gets off to a bold start.

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