Ms. Marvel S1E4-5 REVIEW: Kamala’s family is key to becoming the hero she's meant to be

Updated: Jul 15

Starring: Iman Vellani, Zenobia Shroff, Samina Ahmed, Nimra Bucha, Aramis Knight; Series created by: Bisha K. Ali; Character created by: G. Willow Wilson, Sana Amanat, Adrian Alphona, Jamie McKelvie


The Partition backdrops a fractured family tale

After two new episodes of Ms. Marvel and a positive Covid-19 test, I'm back to talk about the former, and I have MUCH to say.


When last we left Kamala, she was off to Karachi (the largest city in Pakistan) to discover the secrets of her grandmother's bangle, her family history, and why the two are so intricately intertwined. Given my absence last week, I'll be reviewing both episodes 4 and 5 as one contained story within the bigger series, and I must say, Ms. Marvel is delivering the best of its television endeavors.


Piece by piece, Kamala is becoming Ms. Marvel

Kamala gets her first powered-up fight against a hero, pulled straight from Ms. Marvel #12. The Red Dagger makes his MCU appearance in a charming but alarming reveal of universe-ending exposition. Aramis Knight delivers a rapid-fire, cheeky performance that's immediately endearing, even as he tosses blades at our titular hero. This and further fights demonstrate thoughtful creativity: Ms. Marvel puts Kamala's powers to a myriad of uses while also taking creative avenues to make her aesthetic similar to her comic book counterpart.



Embiggened fists, while not aplenty, occur enough to warm my heart. The addition of her more "light construct" based abilities adds new possibilities to the character, especially given her upcoming jaunt in The Marvels film alongside Captain Marvel's Carol Danvers and WandaVision's Monica Rambeau.


Seeing the Red Dagger this early is surprising, but oh so welcome

The superhero action is mere icing on a more emotionally substantial cake. The heart of Ms. Marvel, and why I believe it the best of MCU television, lay in grounding their characters. I'm more interested in the maternal relationships than I am in the superhero antics. Kamala, her mother, and her Nani have such dynamic relationships that inform so much of what we've seen in prior episodes. Episodes 4 and 5 dive headlong into these dynamics, connecting these three in their shared experiences.


Family-first, this series has a vice grip on my heart strings

The poignant focus on family leaves no doubt what Kamala is/will be fighting for. As for the superhero aspects, while episode 4 featured amazing choreography and chase scenes, episode 5 fell flat action-wise. A lot of episode 5, in terms of villain/hero dynamics, feels sudden and doesn't pay off what I thought was a lot of built tension over previous episodes. The familial sides of Ms. Marvel pay off in tear-jerking dividends, but I hope to see (just a bit) more cape-and-cowl activities.


Family history is key to Kamala's future as a hero

Ms. Marvel has not reached the same viewing numbers as the MCU's other television offerings, and I think that this is a crying shame. I feel the other shows have capped off amazing legacies while promising tidbits for later, but Ms. Marvel represents a new generation, a move towards heroes that exist as fans, just like us. The MCU is trying to give us something new, something beyond the safe play. Love of the source material and stylistic originality make Ms. Marvel a heartfelt next step in the evolution of the MCU and is an example of everything I want moving forward. If you feel the same, then I implore you to catch the season finale next Wednesday on Disney+.


If you like this show then I highly recommend you check out the source material as well as a few other amazing and related titles!


 

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.

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