'Ms Marvel' Episode 1 Review: Iman Vellani steals the show in MCU's coming of age tale
‘Ms Marvel’ is quite a surprise and for all the good reasons. Following the footsteps of the critically acclaimed ‘Moon Knight’, 'Ms Marvel' is the latest offering from the MCU library. In comparison to the eccentric and dark themes the previous MCU shows have followed, 'Ms Marvel' is presented as more light-hearted, sentimental, and more of a feel-good coming of age tale and it captures our attention successfully. Iman Vellani has done a fantastic job playing the title character Kamala Khan, making it hard to believe that this is her onscreen debut. The new Disney+ show is the seventh television series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and follows Kamala, who is Marvel's first Muslim character to headline her own comic book and now her own live-action series as well.
Kamala Khan played by Iman Vellani is a 16-year-old Pakistani-American who lives in Jersey City. She is a dorky teenager in high school who is creative, an avid gamer, and above all a huge Avengers fan. From the first scene, it is evident that Kamala is a human encyclopedia when it comes to Avengers, especially Captain Marvel. However, in the other aspects of her life, including her school and family, she is a restless teenager who struggles to fit in. Her thoughts are filled with graffiti art and neon signs and she is often accused by the people in her life that she lives in a "fantasy land". As the episode continues, it is understood that her biggest dream is to go the AvengerCon with her best friend Bruno despite her family's refusal.
The supporting cast who play Kamala’s friends and family are extremely likable and add an emotional depth to the show. Kamala’s best friends tech savvy Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher) serve as her support system and might even remind the viewers of Ned Leeds and MJ from the 'Spiderman' movies. There is also romantic interest from Bruno’s side towards an oblivious Kamala. On the other hand, her parents Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) and Yusuf (Yohan Kapur) are the typical strict and overprotective immigrant parents who also have unconditional love for their daughter. Despite a normal household, it is also indicated that her mother is hiding some family secret that includes a mysterious bangle, which could be connected to Kamala’s superhero origin. Towards the end of the episode, Kamala wears the mysterious bangle in the AvengerCon as part of her Captain Marvel costume. However, the bangle starts resonating cosmic powers and creates chaos all over the place.
Episode 1 deals with the introduction of Kamala and her origins which is quite reminiscent of 'Spiderman: Homecoming'. However, it is refreshing to see an origin story from the perspective of a Muslim Pakistani-American. Also to be noted is how 'Ms Marvel' successfully captures a colorful and vibrant aesthetics in contrast to the grueling darkness of ‘Moon Knight’ and ‘Hawkeye’. There have also been major changes to Kamala's powers and origin from the comics. Her inhuman origins are replaced by cosmic powers projected from a magical bangle.
Episode 1 suggests that the updates to Kamala's powers serve to make her tale more personal, and her family is definitely connected to it. Overall, the premiere episode has hit the mark and it will be interesting to see what chaos will next week's episode bring.
'Ms Marvel' Episode 1 is available for streaming on Disney+.