Monday 17 October 2022

Ms. Marvel

Candid Kamala

Ms. Marvel
USA June - July 2022
Six episodes

Okay, so Ms. Marvel is yet another of these Disney Marvel TV shows, which I am really finding a bit hit and miss but, really not as miss as the Star Wars shows they are really screwing up with. And, I’m happy to report, that Ms. Marvel, both the show and the character, are a delightful addition to the current crop of Marvel TV shows... definitely one of the better ones they’ve produced so far, for sure.

Now, this is not the Ms. Marvel I know... or knew. I remember when Ms. Marvel was announced as a new comic book when I was a kid... it was around the same time, or maybe just before, they announced the Spider-Woman comic and it seemed like a big thing for Marvel to be trying to create more female super-hero characters, back in the late 1970s. The fact that it was considered by many to be a specific attempt to reach a female target audience (hey... anyone remember Dazzler?) really says much about the times we were living in those days. And there were already plenty of female superheroes and villains around by then anyway, put out by most of the main comic book companies but, still, it seemed like a very definite audience grab at the time. However, Ms. Marvel in those days was the version of her known as Carol Danvers, who many people will know got promoted to being yet another incarnation of Captain Marvel, a little ahead of when her movie came out (reviewed by me here). So this show isn’t based on that Ms. Marvel.

This one is actually based on the fourth character to inherit the mantle of Ms. Marvel in the comics, namely Kamala Khan, played here by Iman Vellani (I’ll get back to this actress in a minute). This makes her, as the Marvel comics, the first Muslim superhero. And, although the general storyline is a little weak in places... which I kinda expect with ‘origin’ stories anyway (that’s why I always wish film and TV franchises wouldn’t start off with such a thing)... it’s actually got a lot going for it.

For a start, it’s very colourful throughout... the art department do some great stuff here. Also, it’s got a very fresh feeling, almost 1960s temperament to it in terms of using visual expressionism and experimentation to elabourate on some of the action... such as texts from one character to another appearing as writing, written in various scripts on various objects on a set... or drawings or graffiti in the background coming to life in animated form to help illustrate the points being put forward by somebody, to add weight to their words. It’s a nice approach and it helps the story, such as it is, zip along at a mostly hasty pace, which keeps thing fresh and, hooray, never as boring as certain other of the Marvel shows at certain points.

And the big and completely unexpected trump card, at least as far as I was concerned, is Marvel’s secret weapon here... the actress playing the main lead, aka Iman Vellani. I say surprising because this is her first ever role and, frankly, there’s no messing here, she knocks it out of the park right from the word go with her truly bubbly personality and extremely expressive eyes. For a 20 year old actress in her first part, let alone such a big part, she really does do wonders and I’m now looking forward to her teaming up with Carol Danver’s Captain Marvel in next year’s feature film The Marvels, for sure (with that in mind, make sure you stick around for the mid end credits scene at the end of the last episode here, if you want to see Brie Larson back in action). This actress needs more roles offered to her fast, in my opinion.

I do have a couple of things which disappointed a little so, I guess I might as well mention them. Okay, so yay for her being the first Muslim superhero represented on screen and all that but the whole religion of the character seems to be highlighted at every opportunity. I don’t see that many Christian or Catholic (for example) movies or shows doing that unless they are deliberately meant to be highlighting that element of the story. I’ve got nothing against it but it does seem rather rammed down everyone’s throats here a little, I thought.

Secondly, she has a support group, all of whom know who she is and they’re ready to help her. I’ve noticed that a lot of superhero shows over the past ten years or so have gone down this route and, honestly, why can’t we go back to having a lone superhero just doing her/his own thing rather than all the ‘guy in the chair’ characters that seem to be everywhere nowadays. Even Superman somehow has Lois Lane in on the act and helping out lately... what the heck? It just seems a little bit of an overdone cliché at this point, to be honest but, hey, them’s the breaks I guess.

All in all though, I thought Ms. Marvel was one of the more fun and refreshing shows put out by ‘Disney branded Marvel’ and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing the absolutely ‘marvel-lous’ Iman Vellani strutting her stuff on the big screen MCU sometime soon. I’m not quite sure why this particular show has got lower ratings and a negative reputation compared to the others but... don’t believe it! This show is well worth a watch. More like this please.

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