If I can explain Ms. Marvel in one word, it would be adorable. Disney’s secret recipe for appealing to children continues to improve upon its ingredients. At one time, Disney only produced stories set in the past. The tales of Snow White, Cinderella, and Aladdin were far from contemporary settings. That is until Pixar came along with Toy Story. However, children’s tales can only go so far, so superheroes were the next best market. Many had their doubts about Disney buying Marvel. They weren’t conventionally prone to violence. Cinderella or Woody wasn’t blowing up a bad guy in the middle of Manhattan. Now, look at the result.
A decade later, Kevin Feige is worshipped as a creative God. Although the mouse house has achieved a Herculean task with the MCU, they can stumble along the way. Before The Avengers assembled, Bruce Banner was played by Edward Norton, in not only a reboot of the character from Ang Lee’s Hulk (a film I enjoy) but also the birth of the MCU. The Incredible Hulk is far from a home run, where Iron Man soon after was. Sadly, the other two Iron Men didn’t hold up as well.
The multiverse popped its cherry with Spider-Man: No Way Home, bringing millions back to the cinema. The victory was short-lived with Dr. Strange and The Multiverse of Madness. Additionally, Moon Knight’s appeal in putting me to sleep didn’t help much either. In Ms. Marvel, I see a resemblance to the MCU when it started to work but did not click entirely into place. At last, here’s a show that, like Loki, doesn’t feel like the same old thing. I don’t see a flat color palette or actors surrounded by CG (mostly). Ms. Marvel is more imaginative, vibrant, and charming than most of Marvel’s Disney+ outings.
Kamala Khan is an awkward teenager whose best friend Bruno (Matt Lintz) is a geek like her, if not more so. The Khan family is loving but overbearingly strict. Kamala may fit in better if her mother let her be a kid. To keep herself from going on a potential Jack Torrence “all work and no play” mental tirade, she disobeys mom’s orders by sneaking out with Bruno to Avenger Con, dressed as her favorite hero, Captain Marvel. With the help of grandma’s magical bracelet, Kamala goes from being a teenager donned in cosplay to a real-life superhero.
A Colorful Marvel Property, At Last
Taking a page from Spider-Man Homecoming and Into Spider-Verse, Ms. Marvel captures the feeling of being a teenager through an assortment of imaginative drawings brought to life. Kamala’s doodles come to life on the screen representing her state of mind in a stop motion animation style similar to Into The Spider-Verse. On the note of Spider-Man, Spider-Man: No Way Home is hideously flat in composition and color scheme despite its contrasty elements.
Cinematographer Carmen Cabana must have told the editor how to use the Lumetri Scopes as Ms. Marvel is a feast for the eyes, bringing to life the excitement a teenager feels in their predominant years of life.
Ms. Marvel is a Muslim superhero whose roots are integral to the story. Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) has the same problem as any other teenage girl in a movie or television show. All Kamala wants to do is have fun. But her overbearing mother demands Kamala get straight As and avoid all distractions. The strict mom angle is as recurring as a rerun of Seinfeld on TBS. Like any sitcom, you have to have a collection of engaging characters; otherwise, the gag will fall flat. Luckily, the Khan residence is a captivating household to follow.
All in the Family
Although high-handed, Muneeba Khan (Zenobia Shroff) is loving. She’s not a cruel mother. Merely a strict one. To cool mom’s engines is the dad of the house, Yusuf (Mohan Kapur), a man who’s as gentle as a puppy. The quirky dad can be a bit of a Homer Simpson, but with a brain. If there’s anyone Kamala needs to talk to, it’s dad. He always has the right things to say and is one of the most charming characters I’ve enjoyed watching in a long time.
Next in line of the family is Aamir (Saagar Shaikh), Kamala’s older brother. Aamir is a bit of a tragic character. Although engaged to a woman, Aamir doesn’t seem happy. That’s because he followed everything his mother taught him to a tee. Doing what he’s been told, never finding an identity of his own, has turned Aamir into a servant for his family. When looking into his eyes, Kamala can only see her future if she doesn’t break conformity. And, of course, our star Kamala is delightfully played by Iman Vellani. Vellani brings a believable amount of nerdiness and charisma to make Kamala’s character shine.
Kamala is your typical girl waiting to break out of her own shell. The difference here is the depiction of Muslim society. When we see Muslims praying in Mosques, it’s not connected to anything tragic. It’s just a boring church that Kamala has to sit through. The Muslim religion is a peaceful one that aspires toward empathy. How this isn’t widely known is the fault of the media that depicts them.
A show about a wacky Muslim family who has a connection to superheroes isn’t only a welcome addition to American audiences but a fun continuation of the lackluster Captain Marvel. Ms. Marvel is one of the funniest, sincere, and colorful pieces of media Disney has produced in years. Maybe the pieces for Phase 4 can start to properly click into place when we’re getting to know characters who are fun to watch, instead of a bore like Moon Knight or The Eternals.