By Matthew Moorcroft
- Directed by Meera Menon
- Starring Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Zenobia Shroff
When you start making as many superhero projects as the MCU does, it starts to become harder and harder to make them seem different from each other. This is a side effect of superhero stories tending to follow similar tropes and ideas, so writers have to become more consciously aware of the types of stories they are writing and what to do to subvert them. I’ve always had mixed opinions on this personally, as while subversion is nice and all it only works if it has a purpose – mixing things up for the sake of is never going to end well.
Ms. Marvel, which continues to be a delight, revels in being an old school superhero story at it’s core, much more so then most recent fare. Kamala has a secret identity! She is rescuing random civilians! She has normal people problems! What is making Ms. Marvel really amazing is it’s shocking lack of subversion; what could have at it’s core been an easy way to try and subvert a lot of tropes ends up deciding to play everything straight and sincere, and it’s oddly refreshing. Kamala just wants to be a superhero, like all of us do, and she has the same everyday, normal problems that most heroes have.
That’s all it really needed to do, though. Kamala’s appeal has always been her everyday struggles over her superheroics – yeah she has cool powers and fights crime but her relationship with Nakia? One of the best in comics, and while it’s not quite as good here that’s more of a testament to how good the comics are rather then a mark on the show. It’s given quite a bit of time here, thankfully, and so is Kamala’s heritage and her religious leanings which this episode is almost entirely about from a thematic level. It’s the first time the MCU has really leaned into representation like this really hard since Black Panther, and even then Black Panther seemed to be mostly aesthetic in it’s afro-fusturistic leanings. This is baked into it’s core.
While Menon’s directing is a little bit more subdued then Adil & Bilall’s, it’s still got tons of flair when it needs too, particularly once Kamran enters the picture. While longtime comics fans will pick up on exactly who he ends up being, new viewers are given just enough mystery to be enticing, and Kamala’s infatuation with him is adorable and relatable. Her one take dance sequence in the house is an episode highlight, and the red lighting showcases a stronger sense of visual stylings then the majority of MCU projects.
Some tantalizing stuff for the future of the show in general here as well. It’s nice to see Damage Control and the EDITH drones again, as the MCU Spidey films tend to have a feeling of disconnect due to right issues so it’s nice to see them show up in a greater capacity here. As somebody who is intimately familiar with the comics, it’s pretty clear where they are going in terms of the storyline but I like how they are sticking relatively close to Kamala’s original run, albeit making necessary changes to fit with the current status of the MCU.
Currently, Ms. Marvel is up there with Loki for me in terms of quality in regards to the Disney+ Marvel shows, and it has the potential to climb further then that if it keeps going. There is a confidence, a visual fidelity, and sense of fun that’s here that dwarfs much of the rest of it’s fellow shows, and it’s easily the most fun I’ve had in this universe in quite a while. Can’t wait for more!