Show Creator: Bisha K. Ali — Show Directors: Adil & Bilall, Meera Menon, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
It’s interesting to me that most of the Disney+ shows thus far have really been aimed at the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s mainstream die-hard audience. I sort of expected Disney+ to get into more shows that focused on family fun. I think Hawkeye felt like a family show, but no show has been as close to feeling like a Disney Channel show as Ms. Marvel did. Don’t misunderstand me. That isn’t a diss or a criticism. I think it’s refreshing to see a true young adult family-oriented MCU show. I also think that is the right way to introduce this fan-favorite character to the mainstream audience. I’m glad they gave her a Spider-Man: Homecoming-esque Disney+ show.
Bisha K. Ali’s Ms. Marvel follows Kamala Khan (played by Iman Vellani), a Pakistani-American high schooler and Avengers fangirl with a soft spot for Captain Marvel. She’s just a normal teenager who wants to sneak out of her home to go have fun with her friends, but her family is a little bit strict with her. Her life is about to be turned upside down, though, when she finds a magical bangle that has passed down through generations. Suddenly, she is one of the super-powered individuals that she has looked up to, but she is about to learn that that comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility, and, before she knows it, both an ancient group of individuals from another dimension and the Department of Damage Control starts to target her.
Like I mentioned in my Moon Knight review, I think it’s really nice that these Disney-Marvel shows are showing genuine interest in focusing on different cultures that aren’t normally seen in American superhero films. Ms. Marvel goes much farther than Moon Knight did. This show does a really good job of highlighting the main character’s culture, religion, and family in ways that were always genuinely entertaining, and I think a show like this one can do a lot to normalize diverse cultural representation in Hollywood. I really liked the community that the show created and I wanted more scenes with all of these fun Jersey City side characters, but I loved Kamala Khan’s family and friends. I think the show and the cast really capture that warm and protective family bond well, as well as the exact right chemistry between friends in the High School scenes.
The main cast is excellent. Vellani feels like she was born to play this role. I really liked Matt Lintz’s Bruno and Yasmeen Fletcher’s Nakia, and I wanted so much more of them. Zenobia Shroff and Mohab Kapur, who play Kamala’s parents, are just perfect for this show. I think they really feel authentic. There is a warmth to them, even when they are a little bit strict. And it was clear that the show struggled when it focused on other side characters. Though, I feel like additional episodes really could’ve helped these other subplots significantly and strengthened the main cast’s subplots.
I was also impressed with the visual style for the most part. I thought the show really had a lot of energy and it felt modern from minute one. It has that same charming feeling that the best High School-set coming-of-age films have. I love the little animated visual gags that the show is full of especially in the first episodes. I really enjoyed the distinctive style of transitions that were showcased, again, in the first episode. However, it must be said that the visualization of Ms. Marvel’s powers left a lot to be desired. It looks less like a Marvel Studios property when the powers are used for combat and more like a CW superhero show and that is a disappointment.
Ms. Marvel is at its best when it is a charming, energetic, and modern High School superhero show that explores cultural and familial roots, and at its worst when it tries to be a big spectacle with world-changing or world-ending danger. Predictably, like several of the other Marvel Studios shows, the season finale is brought down by a lack of tension, and a lot of weightless destruction and visual noise that doesn’t look as good as it ought to. I also have to say that the villain subplot felt really underdeveloped, and the way this subplot concludes in the penultimate episode of the season is almost comical. All in all, though, I still thought this was a really good little coming-of-age show that, again, I think is perfect for Disney+. I just need a second season to focus more on the family, friends, and culture, but less on world-ending events.
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.