Starring: Iman Vellani, Matt Lintz, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur;
Series created by: Bisha K. Ali; Character created by: G. Willow Wilson, Sana Amanat, Adrian Alphona, Jamie McKelvie.
The MCU's Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenage girl who wants nothing more than to save the day, or even a small neighborhood in her native Jersey City, like her idol, Captain Marvel. This fantasy becomes reality as Kamala gains her own set of powers and must navigate her life with these new complications.
“Good is not a thing you are, Kamala. It’s a thing you do.”
"Destined", episode 3 of Ms. Marvel gives us a more in-depth look at Kamala’s powers while also investigating what it actually means to be a hero. Previous episodes show Kamala riding high on the dream-come-true of being a superhero, without the burden of responsibility that we've come to expect as a heroic staple; Kamala knows all the cool Avengers facts and exploits, but hasn't experienced the repercussions of those exploits. Kamala has to decide what kind of hero she will be when her presence draws praise, criticism, and the unwanted attention of a structurally prejudiced government. All of this is handled with a poignant realism that breeds uncomfortable familiarity.
I continue to enjoy the change to Kamala’s powers from the comics to tv. The bangle is a nice way to introduce her powers and incite conflict in the story. Kamala’s love of superheroes and love of family are kept strictly separate, but her new powers threaten these boundaries, and it's interesting to watch how Kamala navigates this complex web of identity.
I love that the show is slower paced than other MCU works, because it allows for this investigation of heroism in a more precise and empathetic way. Most of episode 3 focuses on Aamir and Tyesha's wedding, a phenomenal celebration of Pakistani and Muslim culture that acts as the perfect setting for this week's conflict, as both halves of her life begin the familiar tectonic friction of the classic superhero duality. The acting in this episode is moving. One particular scene between Kamala and her mother stands out in particular because I cried so much I needed to rewind and watch again.
The writing of Ms. Marvel is so adept at translating these familiar superhero story beats into something new and stylized that still embodies the core ideals of the comic book heroes we've culturally adored for 80 years. The fresh-faced idealism of our eternally optimistic heroes is put to the test with Kamala, who has to move into a new, "grown-up" stage of life that asks, even begs her to leave her heroes and their lessons behind. I started this review with a quote from this week's episode, and I feel it cuts to the heart of what our heroes stand for: choosing to do good, even when it's the hardest choice.
This week's Ms. Marvel maintains its perfect score with 5 out of 5 POPs, and a lot of gumption.
Check out new episodes of Ms. Marvel every Wednesday on Disney+!
by Jessica Baldanzi
Now, for those of you who loved this week's music as much as I did. Marvel Studios was gracious enough to provide us with a full playlist here!
Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.