Being an MCU fan means getting excited for a project that looks unique and different from the others only to watch it and slowly realize it’s diluting to the same thing you’ve seen ten other times last year and the year before that. ‘Ms. Marvel’ is now the latest superhero to join this ever-growing cast of characters and honestly, I love her. Kamala Khan is one of the most endearing and brightest characters this franchise has ever seen. I love the supporting cast, I love how the show looks and I especially love how important culture is to this show. At the end of the day, however, this plays out exactly like you think it would, the tropes are all there, it could become a drinking game at this point and as I sat there on the couch, sick and probably a bit delusional from the pills I was taking, I actually didn’t mind all that much.
massive spoilers for the first season of ‘Ms. Marvel’ are featured in this review.
I would actually say that ‘Ms. Marvel’ is definitely one of the better MCU Disney+ shows. It has a ton of heart and humour and the characters are just wonderful. However, there are a number of gripes I have with the show that holds it back significantly. The most baffling decision these shows keep making is that the protagonist has to get their iconic suit in the finale. Sometimes this works, in shows like ‘WandaVision’ and ‘The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’. Other times it just doesn’t make that much sense, in shows like ‘Hawkeye‘ and especially ‘Ms. Marvel’. In six episodes we don’t really get to see her use her powers for fun or view them through the eyes of a teenager and be wreckless, we get a training montage and that’s that. While watching this I kept getting flashbacks to ‘Invincible‘ and ‘The Spectacular Spider-Man‘, two shows that understood how a teenage superhero would act and feel. There is this very charming scene once she gets her suit in the finale as she uses her powers to get through the city, it’s very cute and fun and it was at that moment that I realized that this is what the show was lacking. When the show cuts to her in her suit, I didn’t really feel that same satisfaction because her superhero journey was messily written in my opinion. Most of the training is done off-screen or in montage form, we see her fail once when she dropped that boy but the show doesn’t give her a chance to learn from that mistake. It’s genuinely weird because, on one hand, this would’ve made a great movie but on the other hand, I honestly think there needed to be more and you might say that what I just said doesn’t make any sense and you would be sort of right.
The solution to this would be shorter episodes but a higher episode count. The pacing in this show is actually awful at times, I like these characters, and I’m invested in the story but I cannot tell you how many times I got disinterested and lost. There weren’t any stakes, you couldn’t tell where the show was going and having seen it, I can say that the show itself didn’t know where it was going. This is the problem with ‘Ms. Marvel’, it doesn’t have an end goal. The antagonist is made up of three different people and somehow, all of them are underdeveloped and predictable characters. The subplot of Nakia running for a leading position at their Mosque Board was genuinely compelling but we don’t get to see it done on-screen. The romantic elements with Kamran and Bruno never go anywhere, not that they needed to but it was another element that the show never quite leaned into. Kamala’s relationship with her mother could’ve been the heart of this show and again, they never leaned into it as much as they should’ve. Seeing Muneeba gift Kamala her own suit was perfect, it was as if she gave her the last puzzle piece of her heroic identity. Yet, it didn’t have that heavy emotional weight to it because their relationship wasn’t explored that deeply.
All of this being said, ‘Ms. Marvel’ does have its fair share of special qualities. The representation of Pakistani culture and history was a true highlight of ‘Ms. Marvel’. The show is brimming with care and passion when it comes to showcasing this wonderful culture. From its showcase of food and music to religion and the empowerment of Kamala and Nakia, this show is mighty important. I love whenever I watch a new show and it becomes a learning experience for me, it’s an intimate look into how this culture works. There are so many moments I can highlight but the two that come to mind immediately are the scene in Episode 2 where Nakia who is mixed race, explains why she wears a hijab. It was a scene that as I was watching I could tell that was going to mean a lot to a number of people. The second moment is much larger as it is the exploration of Partition, particularly in Episode 5 where half of it is set in that time period. This is one of my favourite episodes from the seven shows that Disney+ has done so far, it is beautifully emotional and powerful, and it is without a doubt the highlight of the show, a total must-see episode.
Overall, I can definitely say I absolutely loved parts of ‘Ms. Marvel’ however as a whole, I do think it has some pacing issues and script problems that do unfortunately hold it back quite a bit. I love and adore Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, she was born for this role and is easily one of the most exciting additions to the MCU. The rest of the cast is wonderful, I really hope I get to see these characters again and not forget about them. I loved the visual language of the show, and how it displayed emotions and texts through city lights and signs, I am utterly obsessed with the costume and her powers and once again, I commend the show for being such a truly educational experience regarding Pakistan culture and the events of Partition. So in the end, even with a few problems, ‘Ms. Marvel’ offers enough charm and heart to overcome those problems.
All episodes of ‘Ms. Marvel’ are now streaming on Disney+.