The MCU has a new hero—and she's bringing a fresh voice to the game.
Disney+'s newest MCU television series Ms. Marvel follows the story of Kamala Khan, a high school junior who spends her days dreaming while her family and teachers wait for her to come down to earth. Ms. Marvel, featuring a younger protagonist and brighter tone than previous MCU shows, is definitely catering to younger viewers, setting itself apart from WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, and Moon Knight, and leaning away from the dour and contemplative nature we've gotten used to in other MCU shows. Ms. Marvel is actually fun—not that everything needs to be fun, but it is a bit of a curveball, all things considered.
The reason why Ms. Marvel is fun is because it focuses not just on the trials of being a young superhero, but also on the trials of being a teenager, which are usually kind of hilarious. Remember when the important things in life— family, friends, the cute guy in the cafeteria, figuring out your powers, and passing a driver's license test, all seemed equally urgent? Kamala's whirlwind reality is interspersed with her even brighter fantasy life through her own fantasy scenes and some animated flourishes, adding to the bright tone and look of the show.
While this adaptation may not be the direct lift from the comics some people were hoping for (as many have noted, Kamala's powers and how she gets them are different), there is certainly plenty of spirit in this coming-of-age show and some serious personal stakes as well. One way that the show does parallel the comics is that Ms. Marvel's supporting characters are all well fleshed out, more than plot points to help her or obstacles that she must get around. The supporting characters of Ms. Marvel have dreams, wants, and worries of their own, adding to the emotional stakes of the show. Similarly, Ms. Marvel's powers slot into her story as a representation of her personal struggles and inner joy, as opposed to being the sole impetus of her story. The central theme of the show (which we see in the trailer), whether she should stay grounded or fly—is an intriguing one, and it opens a lot of possibilities for Kamala's journey and developing relationships with her family and friends.
As for whether or not Ms. Marvel really caught my attention, there are two sequences that excited me in particular, one in the first episode with Kamala speaking to her parents and one in the second episode with Kamala dancing on her own. These two scenes showcased that the show is not afraid to be big and loud and fun, but it isn't afraid to slam on the brakes and deal with reality and personal consequences either. Iman Vellani stood out particularly here as a young actor who is able to hold the screen in a leading role. While she may not always hit every comedic beat, she's got a handle on the important stuff, and that's what matters (it also helps that Vellani is just so darn likeable).
Following that note, a decent chunk of the humor in the show falls flat, the timing can be weird from moment to moment. Like most teen shows, there are scenes that fall a bit on the overdone side. But overall, the show seems to know where it's going. In my opinion, these are the most exciting first two MCU TV show episodes since WandaVision, and I am definitely excited to follow Kamala Khan as she tries her best to figure out who she is and what she is going to be.
Ms. Marvel episodes 1 and 2 debut June 8 on Disney+.
To learn more about Ms. Marvel, her life, and her powers as they appear in Marvel Comics, check out Popverse's guide to Kamala Khan.