‘Ms Marvel’ Review: Iman Vellani’s nuanced performance as Kamala Khan is flawless
Contains spoilers from 'Ms Marvel'
Undoubtedly, Marvel fans love watching the enigmatic stories of their favorite superheroes saving the world. After teasing audiences with character stills and posters on social media, Marvel premiered its highly-anticipated series ‘Ms Marvel’ globally on Disney+ in June. Created and written by Bisha K Ali, the series revolves around Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) from the Marvel comics. The series is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It has been helmed by Adil El Farbi and Bilall Fallah. ‘Ms Marvel’ has been produced by Marvel Studios. Kevin Feige and Bisha K Ali serve as the executive producers.
The official synopsis of 'Ms Marvel' reads, "A great student, an avid gamer, and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, she has a special affinity for superheroes, particularly Captain Marvel. But Kamala struggles to fit in at home and at school that is, until she gets superpowers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Life is easier with superpowers, right?"
The initial two episodes introduce us to Kamala Khan, her family, and her friends. It is from the third episode’s end that things change into a living nightmare for Kamala when her crush Kamran's (Rish Shah) mother Najma (Nimra Bucha), who is an evil Djinn, comes with her army to kill her and her family. Najma wants to take Kamala's magical bangle so that she and her tribe can return to their Noor dimension. Thus begins the biggest and ultimate fight between good and evil and an interesting chase between Kamala and Najma ensues.
When Kamala goes to Karachi with her mom Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) to meet her nani (grandmother) Sana (Samina Ahmad), Najma follows her there too. In their power play and battle, Waleed (Farhan Akhtar), the leader of the Red Daggers vigilante group in Karachi, helps Kamala and loses his life.
In the fourth episode, we see how Najma’s futile attempts at trying to harm and kill Kamala are not successful as the young female superhero gives her best shot and knocks her out.
In the fifth episode, we see the old-school love story between Kamala's great grandfather Hasan (Fawad Khan) and her great grandmother Aisha (Mehwish Hayat) who meet in 1942 before the partition of India and Pakistan. They have a passionate love story and a sweet little family, but danger looms above them. It is revealed that Najma found Aisha and killed her.
After an adrenaline-filled fight, Kamala tells Najma that what she did to her great-grandmother Aisha was wrong. Aisha always wanted to be with her family and because of Najma, she lost this chance. Kamala tries to convince her to live for her son Kamran. But suddenly realizing her mistakes and confessing the same to Kamala, Najma ends her life. While dying she utters Kamran’s name and her evil powers get transferred into Kamran.
On the other side, Kamran, who is clueless about what transpired, feels some evil powers inside himself. He goes over to Bruno’s house as he only knows his address. Bruno and Kamran have an awkward conversation. Kamran is still waiting for his mother Najma to come back and doesn’t even know that she’s dead.
The direction by both Adil El Farbi and Bilall Fallah is just breathtaking. Also, newcomer Iman Vellani has given a phenomenal performance as Kamala Khan and Ms Marvel aka Night Light. She was smooth and flawless. She has proven her mettle with stellar acting chops in all five episodes. It looks like the role was tailor-made for her.
The series has showcased a perfect amalgamation of the American way of life with Desi (South Asian) culture. Hats off to the brilliant depiction of Pakistani culture which was conceptualized so beautifully on the screen, showing the colors of both New Jersey and Karachi. Songs like ‘Pasoori’, ‘Peechey Hutt’, ‘Tu Jhoom’, and ‘Ko Ko Korina’ have also added a distinct desi flavor to the Marvel series.
Overall, ‘Ms Marvel’ on Disney+ is everything that we expected it to be. It is a well-written series with a gritty and captivating storyline that has been brilliantly shot and conceptualized by the makers. It is not wrong to describe it as one of the best MCU shows of this year.