Ms. Marvel: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – While there were issues with the villains, I found Ms. Marvel to be an absolute delight from start to finish.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a Mid-Credit scene at the end of the final episode, No Normal.

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this series.

Kamala stares across at New York city.

Ms. Marvel Review

If there has been one consistent part of the MCU’s Phase Four, it has been the franchise swinging wildly all over the place, trying to find its feet in a post-Endgame world. Not all of these swings have worked. Some started strong but slipped by the end. Others tried packing everything and the kitchen sink, and some floundered around before finding their feet. However, some of these shows taking a gamble have stuck the landing. [Though I should say that it is remarkable that given these times of COVID and trying to film in this uncertainty, it is a credit to all the artists that they have all been engaging so far because none of the Disney+ shows has been bad] When I first heard about Ms. Marvel, I wondered where it would land in this spectrum. Still, after that first episode aired, I knew I would enjoy the ride.

So to set the scene, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is an average teenager going to school in Jersey City with her friends Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher), living with her family Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), Zenobia (Mohan Kapur), and Aamir (Saagar Shaikh), and attending her local mosque where someone is stealing shoes. Like many teenagers, Kamala is struggling to find her place in the world and with parents who don’t understand her passions. One day her grandmother Sana (Samina Ahmad) sent a bunch of things, including a bangle, the perfect thing to go with Kamala’s Captain Marvel costume. The only issue is when she put it on, she started displaying powers she had never had before in a roomful of people, all with mobile phones out filming it all. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

Kamala at Avenger-Con.
Iman Vellani is one of the best casting choices that Marvel has made. Image Credit: Disney+.

I am going to mix things up regarding how I would usually write reviews, by first looking at the things that did not work before diving into things I liked. Because I think I need to forward this criticism right from the start. There is one major issue with this series, and that is the villains. We have two separate villains this season, the first being the Clandestine/Jinn and the second being Damage Control. The problem is with six episodes, there is no time for two separate villains. Nether get the time to develop fully, and get their motivations muddled as to why they are doing what they are doing [Damage Control], or become so rushed that they become window dressing rather than having a clear motivation [Clandestine]. The show just picking one of these would have made the ending hit harder than it could have. Or it felt like they could have used one more episode to fill out the villains’ story just a touch more to make those betrayals mean something.   

Having the villains fall flat would usually have a significant, possibly disastrous, impact on my engagement with a show. But Ms. Marvel transcends this because the heart/core of the show is not the protagonists v villains. The show’s heart is the relationship between Kamala, her mother, her grandmother, and her great-grandmother, thanks to time travel. It explores the strength and trauma that can be handed down from generation to generation. At the show’s start, Kamala and her mother are possibly at the lowest point in their relationship, so low that it could break, creating friction between Sana and Muneeba. The show is about finding ways to mend that strain before it breaks while also dealing with becoming a superhero that adds more pressure to an already fraught mother-daughter bond.

Kamala creates a giant glowing fist.
I liked the translation of her powers to this new visual medium. Image Credit: Disney+.

This story about reforging a bond would not have worked if you had not bought them as a family unit. But for the first time since I think that first Spider-Man film, I instantly bought them as a family. These were people with a long history already established before the show started, and you, the viewer, just became a fly on the wall to see this current adventure. Every actor embodies their character as if it was their own life, with all the quirks, strengths, and weaknesses that come with it. It helps that they situated the story in the middle of a significant event, notably Aamir and Tyesha’s (Travina Springer) wedding. It would have been a high-stress event even without everything that happened. If nothing else worked in the show, this family dynamic would have been enough to pull me through, and I would be happy to see more of it. I loved all of them. It is just nice to have a family unit on TV that like each other and is supporting, even if they don’t all understand each other at times.

Those dynamics also extend to Kamala’s friends, who were also a joy to watch. Watching Bruno, Kamala, and Nakia support each other in all their different issues was one of the show’s strengths. Whether it was Bruno workshopping Kamala’s new powers or the team trying to get Nakia elected to the Mosque council, you feel that bond. So you understand why Kamala does not tell Nakia about her powers and why Nakia feels betrayed when she discovers it anyway. There is a running gag throughout the show that Kamran (Rish Shah) keeps calling Bruno, Brian. It is played as an intentional slight, part of the quasi-love triangle that is simmering away in the show. However, at the end of the show, we discover that Kamran genuinely thought his name was Brian and was mortified that he had been getting it wrong. These moments of humanity propel the performance forward between the greater conflict that is going on. All the support characters are also stepping up to the plate, Sheikh Abdullah (Laith Nakli), Aunty Ruby (Anjali Bhimani), and even that little shoe-stealing Hameed (Ishan Gandhi) all being a joy to watch.

A family discussion.
Ms. Marvel only works as well as it does because you completely buy the Khan family as a real family unit. Image Credit: Disney+.

From a production perspective, I liked how they visualised Kamala’s powers as a projected light crystal surrounding her body or as created platforms. My understanding is that this is a change from the comics, but I felt that it gave her a visual distinctiveness in the MCU. I also enjoyed the visual flair they used in some episodes, like having the story play out in images while they text or following the action under the truck in one clean swoop. My favourite of these was the falling sweep when you collapse onto a couch, which looks simple on appearance, but I know it probably had a decent camera set up to pull it off. I also liked Laura Karpman’s musical score, which combined bombastic trumpets, off-kilter strings, and vocals to give an audible story of Kamala’s life.     

While the acting, characters, and production design are core strengths of the show, I also liked the themes that Ms. Marvel explores. We have had issues with different dimensions and the potential of universes destroying each other in the MCU before. However, this was only one of many things the show is exploring. On the meta-level, this is the first show that is reckoning with the fact that people are watching these shows that were not born when the MCU first started. In that way, both Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan are almost surrogates for what that means for a world, both fictional and real. Also, this is Mutants’ first significant name drop, which they have been teasing for a while now, so that was an exciting twist. I am not sure how many people in America or even here in Australia would have heard about The Partition of India before watching the show. I am glad they didn’t insert themselves into the event directly, more in the characters being affected by it and also the far from subtle shade thrown at the British. The show is also very open about surveillance issues and the role of federal agencies and minority communities, though they don’t go as hard here as they probably could have.

The first meeting of the Clandestine.
If Ms. Marvel has a weak element, it is their villains. Image Credit: Disney+.

In the end, do we recommend Ms. Marvel? Yes, yes, we would. Now, to be clear, they have issues around their main antagonists, and if that is going to be an issue for you, then you probably need to know before going in. But for me, these were some of the best characters that Marvel has put to screen, and I hope we get more of them in the future, and I mean all of them. Yes, even Aunty Ruby, in fact, put Aunty Ruby into all your shows. I’m just sad that we have to wait a whole year before we get to see these characters again.            

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen Ms. Marvel yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us
Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Ms. Marvel
Directed by
– Adil & Bilall, Meera Menon & Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Written by – Bisha K. Ali, Kate Gritmon, Freddy Syborn, A. C. Bradley, Matthew Chauncey, Sabir Pirzada, Fatimah Asghar & Will Dunn
Created by – Bisha K. Ali
Based OnMs. Marvel by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona & Jamie McKelvie
Production/Distribution Companies – Marvel Studios & Disney+
Starring – Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Saagar Shaikh, Laurel Marsden, Azhar Usman, Rish Shah, Arian Moayed, Alysia Reiner, Laith Nakli, Nimra Bucha, Travina Springer, Adaku Ononogbo, Samina Ahmad, Fawad Khan, Mehwish Hayat, Farhan Akhtar & Aramis Knight with Jordan Firstman, Anjali Bhimani, Sophia Mahmud, Ali Alsaleh, Dan Carter, Vardah Aziz, Asfandyar Khan, Zion Usman & Brie Larson  
Episodes Covered – Generation Why, Crushed, Destined, Seeing Red, Time and Again & No Normal

2 thoughts on “Ms. Marvel: Season 1 – TV Review

  1. For me, this is so far the best show that the MCU has produced as I was just sucked in by the first episode and found myself not just being enthralled by this young woman who is just trying to find herself but also this sense of family and community. I’m also kind of a history buff as the Partition of India was something I didn’t really know about as I didn’t know much about this conflict between India and Pakistan. This show made me realize that the British should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done. As a Hispanic-American who has become more aware of America’s own dark history such as that happened in Tulsa in the 1930s and their roles in coups for other countries. I knew what Britain had done but the Partition was something I had no clue about.

    I am glad a show like this exists as it brought that emotional context into what Kamala Khan is trying to understand about herself and her great-grandmother. The fact that it comes from something as big as Marvel who took a massive risk in showing this horrible atrocity right in front of us and opening the door for everyone to understand all of this. I also love the fact that it brought in people like Fawad Khan, Mehwish Hayat, and Farhan Akhtar (as I have no knowledge about them at all prior to this show and then learn why they’re a big deal) in small but important roles. This show just killed it in ways that I wasn’t expecting and it has me wanting for more as the post-credit ending just made me more excited for The Marvels.

    I also want to add some things about the final costume in the show as I loved how it pieced everything together from the mask designed by Bruno, the cloth from Waleed, the red scarf from Kareem, and the symbol in Kamala’s name from her necklace as it would lead to Kamala’s mom to create that costume (which is perfect) and then for her father to come up with superhero name. This is like The Fast and the Furious mentality of family. Family is the greatest superpower.

    I would love for a moment where the Hulk, Clint Barton, Vision, Bucky Barnes, and Sam Wilson watching cricket with Kamala’s dad and brother while Hope and Janet Van Dyne, Wanda Maximoff (she’s not dead), Monica Rambeau, and Valkyrie talking with Kamala’s mom and sister-in-law with the Illuminaunties. Kamala hanging out with America Chavez, Billy and Tommy Maximoff, Kate Bishop, Yelena, and Carol Danvers with Bruno, Nakia, Zoe, and the rest of the gang. That is what Marvel is. Familia!

    Like

  2. Pingback: She-Hulk Attorney at Law: Whose Show is This? and Season 1 – TV Review | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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