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TV Review: Ms. Marvel

25 July 22 words: Michael Vince

Ms. Marvel restores faith in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

Directors: Adil & Bilall, Meera Menon, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Starring: Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher
Series length: 6 episodes

Phase Four of the MCU has been fairly rocky so far, with a mixture of Covid delays and underwhelming releases giving fans little confidence going forward. Its Disney+ spin-off series have been patchy too, with Loki perhaps being the only standout, alongside some solid-if-clunky entries.

The charming coming-of-age comedy Ms. Marvel, however, joins Loki right at the top of the pile. Tightly-woven and well-balanced, Marvel Studios’ latest small screen effort proves its ability to tell different stories when the correct creative team is given full licence.

Kamala Khan (portrayed in the TV series by Iman Vellani) is an important character in comic book history, being the first Muslim character to have their own comic book in Western comic culture. The show does a great job of showing her high-school travails alongside her heritage and faith as a Pakistani-American teenager. 

As far as the aesthetics of the show go, there is rarely a dull moment. Vivid colours and fun animations are the order of the day. This marks Ms. Marvel out as a fun ride, and more kid-friendly than recent releases like Moon Knight or the newest Doctor Strange.

Ms. Marvel strikes an excellent balance in tone. The show is never too dark or too silly, but provides plenty of laughs alongside some genuinely moving moments. Among these are references and callbacks to the 1940s and the Partition years, in which India and Pakistan became separate countries.

Ms. Marvel might be the best MCU show thus far

This is not a time period we are accustomed to seeing in any Western media, let alone the world's largest superhero franchise. These scenes are not only moving, but are historically very interesting, and for a lot of audiences, may be their first exposure to any media covering this period of time.

The pacing of the show is well done, and the finale is not as messy as many of the other MCU television entries. However, as usual, the most interesting part of the show is the lead up to the finale rather than the finale itself. 

Ms. Marvel is a delightful show – the interactions and dialogue between the key characters are always sharp, and the chemistry between the leads is excellent. Iman Vellani is clearly the breakout star of Ms. Marvel, and her wonderful teenage confusion and obvious acting chops make for a combination that will hopefully stay an ever-present in the MCU going forward.

It would be remiss to not mention the ridiculous treatment that any feature of this size receives when starring a female lead or person of colour. As soon as the show premiered, the reviews online plummeted with calls of “woke” and “cringe”. A show of this cultural significance was going to receive backlash from certain corners of the Internet – but if you like superheroes and coming-of-age stories, then there is nothing to suggest you won't like one coming from a different perspective to 99% of similar properties out there.

Overall, Ms. Marvel might be the best MCU show thus far, with its standout cast, great sense of humour, tight storytelling and exciting set pieces. While Phase Four has not been as smooth or performed as well as hoped, Kamala Khan joins the likes of excellently written characters like Shang-Chi, bringing plenty to look forward to with the future of the MCU.

Did you know? Iman Vellani says that fellow MCU actor Tom Holland spoiled a major plot point from his then-upcoming film, Spider-Man: No Way Home, the first time they ever met.

Ms. Marvel is available on Disney+

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