By Matthew Moorcroft
- Directed by Meena Menon
- Starring Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Zenobia Shroff
Ok, I’m fully on board now. Not to say that I completely wasn’t prior to this, as Ms. Marvel has been very clear in it’s high quality since the beginning, but as we move into the middle portion of the show it’s becoming clearer and clearer about the vision of the show and what direction it wants to take. And while it could backfire immensely in the future – particularly with the origin change and the new revelations – right now it’s nothing short of a magnificent blast.
And of course, it has to be part of a wedding! The last third of the episode, from the actual wedding to the dance sequence and then finally the chase and battle sequence is just pure gold. Some of Marvel’s most exhilaratingly fun setpieces and by keeping it as close to Kamala as possible all of the stakes feel real and tangible. It never loses it’s sense of humor and light tone, but unlike a lot of MCU properties it never feels the need to randomly quip out a line or somehow make you remember that you are watching superhero schlock. Instead, it’s sincerity bleeds off of the screen and it’s hard not to smile.
This extends to it’s emotional beats as well, and the show has started to pull out of the all of the stops here. Menon’s direction is still as hyper stylized as ever but pulling back when necessary and simply letting the actors emote does a lot of the work for her, particularly when it comes to Vellani who has a lot of emotional baggage she needs to carry here; having to run the gambit between awkwardness, stressed out, optimistic, and then regretful is a difficult task for any actor and yet she pulls it off with ease here. She’s on her own for a good chunk of the episode as well, simply figuring things out, and seeing her thought process is equally as entertaining as her fighting back with her powers.
And yeah, her powers are finally starting to click in. As the opening sequence seems to indicate, the series shifting it’s focus from Kamala herself to generation and cultural trauma, which seems to be a common theme throughout Phase 4 in general as the MCU tries to reorient itself post-Infinity Saga. And while it’s an origin that has some weird baggage to itself (Djinn aren’t exactly the first thing I’d use to have our first Muslim hero be), there is also subtle hints that it could be an easy misdirect. I hate to be that guy, but the blue arm is very clearly that of a Kree so an Inhuman related origin is very likely still in the cards.
However what tips this episode over the edge for me into “the best of the MCU” for me is how much time they spend on the side cast and getting to know them. Whether it be simply having a conversation between Kamala’s brother Aamir and her father, Bruno interacting with the community, Nakia’s own separate story, it all feels interconnected in a way that feels satisfying and gives life to Kamala’s world. I’ve always described each superhero as living in their own little universe within a grander universe, and each universe should feel alive and breathing. So far, Kamala’s is one of the most alive in awhile, and I hope it stays that way.
And with the implications that we are headed to Pakistan for a little bit to explore more of Kamala’s origins as well as possibly get a story about mothers and daughter is all I need to rank this high among the pantheon of Marvel content. Only halfway through and I can safely say this is among their best stuff ever, and that’s a hill I’m willing to stake my claim in. If it stays this good going forward, of course.