Look, when Ms. Marvel was announced I’ll be the first to admit it didn’t pique my interest. When I saw the first trailer, I was dubious; all the little cartoon drawings and the music, it felt like it would be too teen for me to relate to, too coming of age for someone who’s been of age for a while … but like so many of us, the Marvel Studios name was attached so I was ready to give it a shot. And in Feige we trust is what that uncertainty has blossomed into after watching the first two episodes.
Episode 1 immediately transported me back to high school, recalling my own days as the nerdy outcast in printed t-shirts with a room covered in posters. The nostalgia encapsulated in Kamala’s story was enough to immediately hook me in, and I considered what it would have been like to see this back 20 years ago when I needed it most. Through that, I was comforted by the fact that kids and teens who might feel like I did back in the day now have Kamala to look to. The nerdy girl becomes a superhero, not dolled up into someone she isn’t so the jock will take her to prom like the coming-of-ages of my generation.
The drawings and clever ways text messages between Kamala and her friends plays out so well on the screen, adding something distinct to this series that may come across as cheesy in the trailers, but works well within the show. In fact, I think it suffices to say that the trailers didn’t do a great job of selling the charm of Kamala and her story at all. The MCU skipped out on getting to know teenage Peter Parker easing his way into his role as Spider-Man, but here we get to watch Kamala from the very beginning, and seeing her faltering is an important aspect of her transformation. This is particularly true for a hero that isn’t as notorious as Spidey. While this sort of rushed intro worked for him, this nitty-gritty intro was needed for Kamala to help audiences attach, and I think it’s working thus far.
Also, I’m just going to say it: Kamala blows Carol Danvers out of the water. I’ve never been a huge Carol fan, Monica Rambeau was always my favorite Captain Marvel, but Kamala is just so absolutely endearing it’s hard not to fall in love with her almost instantly. Iman Vellani took that role and made it her own, and Marvel has done an excellent job in giving all of their younger generation of heroes, including America Chavez and Kate Bishop, very distinct personalities. It’s still my greatest hope we get a Young Avengers team-up here soon, and the interactions between all of these new, young heroes are going to be electric as they each bring a different persona and ego to the table.
As a white woman, I can’t possibly comment on the cultural representation in the series, but the family dynamic is very distinct and special to the Khans. At no point did I think that anything was done to resemble the workings of a white family to ease some viewers’ poor takes on diversity in media. This is an aspect of media I personally enjoy, and putting this learning experience about a culture one may not be familiar with into such a high-profile project will hopefully help others have a better understanding of the Muslim community.
Ms. Marvel premieres Wednesday, June 8 exclusively on Disney+.