Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted July 25, 2022
Exclusive to DisneyPlus for now.
I enjoyed "Ms. Marvel" on DisneyPlus quite a bit, even while I was disappointed they altered several things from the comics. Then again, I've only read the first five volumes (twenty-five individual issues), so some of the added material could be from later stories. The biggest change is the origin of Kamala's powers. In the comics, which began in 2014, she was exposed to Terrigen Mist, which had been introduced in other comics under the banner of an Inhumans crossover event, as well as in various MCU films, and in ABC's "Agents of SHIELD." In Disney's revamped version they are apparently provided by a "bangle," a metal wristband, once the property of her great-grandmother, who was supposedly from an alternate universe. Or it is possible the bangle only enhanced the powers she already possessed, but never realized until the bangle was first worn. We might get more information on that when Kamala returns next year in the Captain Marvel follow-up, The Marvels. It's too soon to know if there will be a second season, or if she will be featured in other films going forward. I think it likely there will be, since Disney/Marvel have many others in the works, introducing new characters that will probably go on to the films, if the studio thinks there is enough interest, as well as the fact that major characters such as Hawkeye, Wanda Maximoff, and Loki got the series treatment too, with the latter already in production for a second season.
Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is a 16-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants, living in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is a fan of the Avengers, most particularly Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. Just the briefest of introductions in the first episode is about her online activities concerning her favorite superheroes. Kamala and her family are Muslim. Her parents are Yusuf (Mohan Kapur) and Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), and she has an older brother, Aamir (Saagar Shaikh). All are devout even though the shape of their faith is slightly different for each. Kamala is not required to wear a hijab, and she doesn't except while at mosque services, although her best friend Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher) does everywhere. Later Nakia is elected to the board of their mosque. Bruno (Matt Lintz) is the friend who first learns of Kamala's abilities. Of course with great power comes great responsibility, and Kamala thinks it best to keep her secret from everyone else. That becomes impossible after her adventures in Pakistan, something that did not happen in the comics through the issues I've read, but it was a good way to highlight Kamala's heritage, and the strengths of family and community bonds.
Another disappoinment was there are only six episodes, plus something that happened toward the end of the finale struck the wrong chord. I won't go into detail, other than saying I don't think the NYPD would have acted that way, especially considering how Muslims have been treated in the real world. In spite of the brevity of the series, and other disappoinments, I'm still giving this a rousing endorsement. The story is not that unique, similar to many other superhero adventures, with special effects galore, but the performances elevate it, most especially Iman Vellani. It's hard to believe this is her first professional gig. I don't know how long the audition process for Kamala was, but it helped that Iman essentially is that character, a long-time Marvel fan who regularly cosplayed as Captain Marvel. She is Pakistani Muslim, but from Canada not New Jersey. Otherwise she's a typical teenager who gets excited about her fandoms, and now she is living one of those fandoms in spectacular fashion. I'm confident she has a career well beyond Ms. Marvel. Highly recommended.
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