As the Marvel Universe has grown, their television programs seem to have gotten bigger and bigger, with many of the newer ones building their own unique worlds.
The new Disney+ series Ms. Marvel is not like that (at least in the first two episodes which were available for review). Instead of aiming for something huge and impressive, the program starts with a simple concept and takes the time to build something more personal, more relevant, and ultimately more memorable.
The show features Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, a high school girl who wants to win a costume contest at the upcoming AvengerCon, a convention celebrating all things Avenger. With the help of her loyal friend Bruno (Matt Lintz), Kamala plans to dress up as Captain Marvel, a hero she looks up to.
Due to the tight costume and her constant daydreaming, Kamala’s mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Scroff), opposes her plans. “It’s time to stop fantasizing,” she says, urging her daughter to focus on other things.
The series’ initial focus on a young girl daydreaming about pursuing her dreams despite her parents’ wishes is nothing new, but this program offers new life that sets it apart. Created for television by Bisha K. Ali, the show has a wonderful imaginative spirit. From the playful way the text messages between Kamala and Bruno are displayed to the way the graffiti comes to life in the background, there’s an energy displayed here that helps bring even simple sequences to life.
At the end of the first episode, Kamala realizes that she has super abilities but her powers are not immediately understood. In fact, the second episode shows how she is forced to test herself to find out what she can and cannot do. Again, the show plays with the concept, providing fun scenes where the two teenage lead characters toy with different ideas. Like teenagers, they struggle and stumble along the way.
Kamala never looks like a traditional superhero, and the show thrives on exploring her unique point of view. “It’s not usually the brunette girls of Jersey City who save the world,” she says. Yet she is the star here and the program never shirks her Pakistani origin, her Muslim faith or her identity. She’s not a typical superhero, and it’s not a traditional show. It’s full of personality and creativity and a vibrant sense of excitement that keeps even the familiar beats special.
The second episode here opens the door to a potential mystery related to the creation of Kamala’s powers. The mystery, however, isn’t half as thrilling as the characters themselves. Vellani and Lintz are great as two main characters, and their friendship – despite their different backgrounds – is central to the story. They are the reason to keep watching.
After so many other Marvel movies and TV series, sometimes it’s hard to get excited about the next one but Ms. Marvel is different. It feels fresh and offers a unique perspective. Kamala’s character and the show itself might help remind audiences why they fell in love with the Marvel Universe.