A Super Fan’s Review of “Ms. Marvel”
Lackluster villains aside, Ms. Marvel is a blast with an amazing performance from its lead star and her supporting cast.
“Ms. Marvel” Series Review
In Ms. Marvel, we follow teenager Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), who’s the world’s biggest fan of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
This puts her at odds with her parents (Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur), who just don’t understand her, or her life. Which speaking of, begins to change when she obtains a mysterious bangle, that gives her light-based superpowers. As a result, Kamala decides to use her new-found abilities and become a superhero just like her idol. However, she must balance her personal life with her superhero life, and that becomes one of her immediate issues.
Created by G. Willow Wilson and editor Sara Amanat, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel was introduced to the comics in 2014.
The character quickly became an overnight sensation with the first volume “No Normal” winning a Hugo Award. Kamala would wind up appearing in multiple animated series and video games. However, a large part of the character’s success can be traced to Kamala’s general relatability. On top of her Pakistani-American upbringing, Kamala is one of us. She writes Avengers Fan Fiction. She idolizes Captain Marvel. And is by definition a total geek.
But, we all know what it’s like to be a geek of color in a community that is predominately white and male, right? And finally, like Peter Parker, like Miles Morales, like all the other teen superheroes … Kamala is an ordinary teenage girl dealing with ordinary teenage problems, on top of being a badass superhero.
This is what head writer Blisha K. Ali and her writers and directors Adil El Arbi (aka Adil) and Billal Fallah (aka Billal), Meera Menon, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy nailed perfectly.
In conjunction with the cinematography, the four directors display Jersey City and Karachi with a natural, yet cinematic look.
The present-day scenes are filmed with a blue glow, while the flashback scenes are displayed with a brown/orange one. Sets like Kamala’s home or high school, all feel real — like an actual person goes there. Furthermore, Ali and company brought some nice surprises and changes to the show, while still being respectful to Wilson and Amanat’s original vision.
But, we wouldn’t have such an amazing show without this cast …
IMAN VELLANI IS KAMALA KHAN AKA MS. MARVEL!
Let’s repeat that: IMAN VELLANI IS 100% KAMALA KHAN AKA MS. MARVEL!
In the exact same way idol Robert Downey Jr. personified Tony Stark aka Iron Man, Iman Vellani personifies the role of Kamala — with ease.
She leads the show with such warmth and excitement, eager to explore her powers, and what it all means. And her chemistry with Matt Lintz’s Bruno is infectious. You can tell that they have been friends for years as Lintz and Vellani bounce off each other effortlessly.
As for the rest of the supporting cast …
They all give good performances. Each of the actors have at least one standout scene that makes them shine. But, the stand-out performance was Zenobia Shroff as Kamala’s mother Muneeba. Kamala’s relationship with her parents, specifically her mother is interesting to watch with Shroff displaying so much range and pathos. Especially later on, when she begins to interrogate her own past and her own relationship with her mother (Samina Ahmad).
While the casting, writing, and direction are all spectacular, the show is not without its shortcomings.
Most evidently, the Clandestines, a group of inter-dimensional beings led by Najma (Nirma Bucha) and Agent Deever (Alysia Reiner) from the Department of Damage Control. And it’s not that their performances are bad. Both Bucha and Renier do a fine job with the material they’re given.
But, rather it’s in the execution.
While Najma and Deever have similar goals, the two feel at separate odds. Maybe if they were combined or forced to work together, this issue could have been fixed? At the very least, it would have definitely added an air of tension to the proceedings and made the stakes a bit more higher.
Or maybe … just hold off on the Clandestines until the future.
Though doing that might ruin Kamala’s arc as well as remove the explanation of her new power set. With that said, one could make the argument that the show is about the hero. Not the villains. And that is true. But, the villains shortcomings is more in line with how the Marvel Disney+ shows have had pacing issues. However, when the show focuses on Kamala, the show soars into the air as she becomes the new generation’s superhero.
Despite underwhelming villains, Ms. Marvel is a blast throughout led by an amazing performance from Vellani and her supporting cast.
Ali, Adil & Billal, Meenon, and Obaid-Chinoy successfully ushered Kamala into the MCU, keeping her core traits and personality.
In addition, Ali and company provided some nice surprises for not just for Kamala, but for the entire MCU. (Inserts a certain theme song here) Also, I cannot wait to see Vellani in next year’s The Marvels. Her chemistry with both Danvers (Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teynoah Parris) is going to be really interesting. All in all, Ms. Marvel was just well … marvelous!
Score: 4 out of 5