When Kamala Khan was first introduced to Marvel Comics back in 2013, it felt like a breath of fresh air. She felt like this generation’s Peter Parker in terms of relatability. Kamala is a teen superhero who’s obsessed with the Avengers (particularly Captain Marvel) and tries to balance her home/school life. The impact of Ms. Marvel can’t be understated as she’s Marvel’s first Muslim character giving needed representation. The new Ms. Marvel became a critical and commercial success as fans campaigned to have her in the MCU. We finally get our wish as Ms. Marvel is a fantastic representation of the character.
Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+.
Story: Avengers Fangirl
The episode opens up on Kamala describing her latest fan-fiction story about the Avengers. From the get-go, we established how much she’s a fan of Captain Marvel and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Plus, getting to hear her passion and how much she pours into her videos makes instantly likable to viewers unfamiliar to her. She wants to go to the newly created AvengersCon, but her strict mother won’t let her.
If you’re going into episode one and expecting a lot of action scenes and Kamala using her powers, you’ll be pretty disappointed. But, you shouldn’t because it does an excellent job on establishing our hero’s normal problems like dealing with her parents or schoolwork. It’s truly remarkable how invested I was in her life without being concerned that we don’t have any superpowers yet. All the action gets ramped up in the third act and sets up an intriguing mystery for the rest of the series
Characters & Performance: Kamala’s Life
I’ve said this a lot about the MCU, but the casting is pitch perfect. Iman Vellani beautifully embodies the character of Kamala Khan. The passion she possesses just leaps off the screen. How she feels about the Avengers and the frustrations going on with her life. Iman Vellani isn’t just playing Ms. Marvel, Iman Vellani is Ms. Marvel.
She’s supported by a great cast that really does standout. Her parents, Yusuf and Muneeba, are really charming. Yusuf has the perfect goofy dad charm nailed to the tee. Mohan Kapur can easily balance the funny and emotional fantastically. Take when he shows up as the Hulk. It’s laugh out loud funny, but when Kamala shoots him down, the wrenching pain on his face will make your heart shattered. On the flip side, there’s her mother who’s very strict. The show does a good job on not making her one-dimensional. Yes she can be harsh, but we know she’s doing what she thinks is best for Kamala. Zenobia Shrof shines in this hour and is very relatable. Especially when she brings trays of leftovers for Kamala’s friend, Bruno. Moments like that help make this show feel grounded.
I’m surprised how early we’re getting MCU ties in the first episode. Of course because Ms. Khan is an Avengwrs fan girl, but there’s a lot of surprises. This includes a short mid-credits scene that’s usually reserved for either the second to last episode or the finale. If we get more tidbits like that then we’ll be in for a great time.
Cinematography & Sound: Pretty Sketchy
From the beginning, we get a big taste of the visual style. The video that Kamala makes for showcasing her Avengers fan-fiction is like doodles from her notebook come to life. This imagination bleeds into her real life as she often daydreams and visualizes things. There’s a lot of these little moments that just make everything pop. From out laying outrageous plans to imagine her Captain Marvel costume in the form of graffiti.
It doesn’t become a distraction and it enhances the viewing experience. Even with something like texting that usually shows the text on-screen. Ms. Marvel does it with a lot more flare as it’s reflected in the street and neon signs. Not just with what they’re saying, but with emojis and the ellipsis (the three dots when someone is texting back) in a way that’s a ton of fun. This also applies to the score that’s composed by Laura Karpman. Laura returns from doing the score for Marvel’s What If…? and is easily goes right back to making great music. The little Pakistani touches to the score are a perfect touch.
Editing & Pacing: Cosmic Set-Up
For the pilot episode, it felt perfectly paced as an introduction to Kamala’s world. We have a good understanding of her home and school life plus what she’s feeling. It raises the right questions on how did she get her powers and what exactly are they? I think having these episodes just under an hour is the right length without being rushed or dragging down.
A thing that helped the hour go by is the way they edited some of these shots. Since the show has featured some sketch drawings in the form of Kamala’s imagination, it sometimes feels like a comic book. For instance, we get a montage of the ways Kamala has been distracted. With these quick cuts, it felt like we were going to different panels in rapid succession.