Everyone knows that fictional superheroes need a good title. From Professor X and Doctor Strange to Mr Incredible and Captain Sir Tom Moore, the comics have exhausted nearly every drop-down menu of possible ranks. So it’s perhaps no surprise that we’re now entering the second tier of slightly clumsier titles, with the release of Mrs. Wonderthe latest small-screen spinoff of the box office conquering Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Mrs. Wonder follows Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a 16-year-old Jersey City girl raised in a semi-strict Muslim household. She’s, to put it lightly, obsessed with Brie Larson’s athletic superhero Captain Marvel, who kicked the punches avengers the supervillain Thanos. Much to her parents’ chagrin (“I come from a long line of unrealistic fantasy dreamers,” her mother gloomily announces), Kamala is much more interested in the world of superheroes than her homework or her husband’s marriage. brother. Only her best pal – and handy genius – Bruno (Matt Lintz) believes in her. “It’s not really the brunette girls of Jersey City saving the world,” she tells him. “You are Kamala Khan,” he replies. “Do you want to save the world? So you’re gonna save the world.
I’m not here to review good intentions – indeed, Marvel is such a relentless business enterprise that there are undoubtedly cynical motives at play here – but it’s refreshing to see such a commitment to creatives. of South Asian origin at the head of a large-scale project. It’s not just in the excellent cast: the series is written by British-Pakistani comedian Bisha K Ali and directed by Belgian duo Adil & Bilall. The creative influences are far more Michel Gondry and Edgar Wright than any South Asian film, but it’s still infused with a deep love of South Asian culture.
But I guess the only real question is whether it works as a superhero property. Kamala lives in a world where “the battle for Earth” (i.e. the events of Avengers: Infinity War and End of Game) actually happened, and yet Iron Man and his gang are treated as celebrities rather than figures of major historical significance. Despite being essentially the protagonists of World War III, Thor and Captain America are celebrated more like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie than Churchill and Eisenhower. But this trick allows Mrs. Wonder live in two worlds: the world of Marvel and the world of Marvel fans. And it’s during a secret trip to “AvengerCon” that Kamala discovers a mysterious bracelet passed down from her grandmother that grants her magical powers. “Cosmic,” she whispers with a smile, as the McGuffin rays flood her arm.
While there are elements of the show’s visual kinetics reminiscent The green hornet and Scott Pilgrim vs the world, Mrs. Wonder is clearly aimed at younger audiences than any of Marvel’s existing properties. And, as far as I can tell, the integration of animation and CGI into Jersey City’s real-world settings can be ubiquitous in CBeebies. Older viewers will likely struggle to make the most of the show’s very teenage stakes (failing a driving test, taking a dodgeball in the face, sneaking around after dark) and the tone is much lighter than in stranger things, the other show “children who save the world” of the present moment. Then again, for the health of our collective psyche, it would help if older viewers didn’t watch so many superhero shows in the first place.
Bright, impetuous and daring, Mrs. Wonder is another tolerable entry in the studio’s ever-growing list of TV spinoffs. “It’s fantasy fun,” Kamala’s adviser Mr. Wilson (writer and internet personality Jordan Firstman) told her, “but right now I need you to pull yourself together and join the reality.” Nevertheless Mrs. Wonder‘s adequate charms, it’s hard not to feel the same way about our current cultural moment.