Stars: Iman Vellani, Rish Shah, Yasmeen Fletcher, Matt Lintz; Directors: Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah; Series creators: Bisha K. Ali; Character creators: 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.
***This review is spoiler free but stay tuned after the "Recommended Reading" for some SPOILERS and my venting about them.***
Ms. Marvel's season 1 finale is a perfect capstone on a series that promises big change in the MCU while maintaining its independence. Adil & Bilall return to direct after helming the first two episodes, and deliver a heartfelt and crisply executed sign-off on an origin story that puts more focus on the hero than it does the super. Though this isn't to say that some butt isn't good and properly kicked; the action sequences in this episode are emotionally weighty and imaginative. If you were mad that Kamala's MCU powers contrasted her comics' iteration, then I'm confident this finale will change your mind in an embiggened way.
Every aspect of this show is steeped in eclectic style: text messages alight in neon, while smash cuts gave me a hankering to binge Edgar Wright's films. This episode punctuates my new favorite MCU series with bombastic style and heart that not only mirrors the endearing sincerity of the comics, but gives the new generation a hero that doesn't just fight crime, but also does good.
Superheroes punch, kick, blam, and pow their ways to justice, typically harnessing enough deus ex machina to make it to the "See ya next week!", but we all know better. Superheroes bear the weight of our aspirations and hopes, something Ms. Marvel takes quite seriously. Kamala's superhero origin essentially begins here, and she is defined less by her embiggened fists and more by her desire to do good. Ms. Marvel's finale brings this point to its zenith as friends and family play central roles in the coming together of this super persona.
Ms. Marvel makes a point of emphasizing and investigating "boundaries", or, more specifically, labels that separate. The Partition, Pakistani/American cultures, and physical appearance are used to push our hero beyond the punching. When the show began, Kamala was torn in many different directions. All she wanted was to make her loved ones happy while living her own life. The tensions that follow spur some of the show's best moments. Only Ms. Marvel can give me Mohan Kapur in full green make-up and purple shorts — the Lou Ferrigno Treatment — while also making me cry in the same scene. There is a realness in these perfectly blended moments that truly feel like family. This finale makes it clear that we can all do good and, even better, we can do it standing together. This level of community has permeated the entire show and makes the last minute reveal of the show (pre-credits) make so much sense. Stay tuned for another, major post-credits scene.
I've restrained myself thus far in past reviews but I can no longer hold it in: this show is marvelous. No show is perfect, but I'm not going to nitpick Ms. Marvel for the sake of creating negativity. Everyone should be watching this show and bring your open heart with you. No, not the open heart that lets you watch bad films and make excuses. I mean the kind of open heart that rings true to the idealists in us all. Superheroes do not fit molds anymore; I know this because I watched Ms. Marvel shatter the mold. Superheroes don't have to slowly walk away from explosions or face-off against the big bad villain in a raucous CGI-fest. A superhero's core power is kindness, and I think Ms. Marvel could remind us that we can all do good. We can all be superheroes.
Ms. Marvel's finale gets 5 out of 5 POPS from me, closing out what I hope is only the first project of many for our titular character.
Be sure to binge it all now on Disney+
"Good is not a thing you are, it's a thing you do."
RECOMMENDED READING (trust me on these):
> > > > > > > > > > > > > >
Check the Clock! It's SPOILER TIME!!!!!
Marvel used Ms. Marvel to drop some major promises about the future of the MCU, and I'm on my couch shrieking in delight about it all. Let's get the first thing outta the way. Mutants are here and they're marvelous. With so much anticipation for mutant inclusion in the MCU, it's quite the surprise to see it dropped so casually at the end of this episode. But that is pretty much the MCU's modus operandi, though the not-so-subtle X-Men: The Animated Series theme playing in the background was a nice touch. This leaves me with so many questions that I'm getting whiplash from all the possible directions (or maybe I'm just remembering when Wanda met Xavier in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness), but I digress.
Then there's the post-credit scene which doesn't leave much to talk about in terms of pure content, but will certainly send us careening to theaters next year to see The Marvels. If you really wanna spoil that last bit, just scroll down for a picture, but don't come crying to me when you're unable to be surprised. The MCU is growing in a cosmically expansive way, and I can't wait to continue giving you my thoughts on every bit of it!
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.