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MS. MARVEL, Episode 1 [Review]

I am not the target audience for Ms. Marvel. I’m a 40-something white guy from Texas. According to key demographic trends, I should be on YouTube ranting about how the existence of Kamala Khan is proof positive of the Alphabet Mafia woke conspiracy organized by a cabal of Jewish bankers to put positive images of Muslim teenagers on television to raise the costs of figs and dates and kill our compound interest rates.

But I’m not. I’m here to say that Ms. Marvel is a mighty fine superhero show.

Ms. Marvel Suits Up

I’m familiar with the character of Kamala Khan, having written a piece welcoming her creation back in 2013. I’ve not had a chance to read that many Ms. Marvel comics, but that’s entirely due to the limit of hours in the day. I’ve reviewed a few Ms. Marvel books and generally liked the ones I had a chance to read. And it is my learned opinion that Muslim girls and Pakistani girls and, yes, fan girls have as much right to see themselves represented on the comics page as I did when my young white and nerdy self latched onto Peter Parker as a role model.

I mention this because, predictably, the usual bad actors are review-bombing this series. Some of them are slamming the show for being anti-Christian. The usual complaints about Captain Marvel and Brie Larson are being parroted again. And, ironically, some are playing the role of dissatisfied fans, complaining that they changed the nature of Kamala’s powers, so the show must clearly suck because it deviates from the source material. About the only complaint I haven’t seen is that the show rips-off the aesthetic of Stargirl, being about an teenage girl discovering amazing light-based powers.

Ms. Marvel Kamala Powers Up

Strangely enough, I didn’t think much about any of that while watching the first episode of Ms. Marvel. I spent more time connecting with the characters than fixating on the things that didn’t fit my own experiences or comparing it to the comics. Kamala’s father reminded me of my dad, being an enthusiastic tech geek who couldn’t explain to you how things work but marveled in the magic of new things. Kamala reminded me of myself, being a smart, sarcastic cosplayer trying to build an on-line presence while making plans for the next big convention.

This is fairly rote stuff for the pilot episode of a superhero show, of course, but the direction by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah is solid. The script is well-paced. The special effects for Kamala’s light-based energy powers are good, no matter what you may think of this version of Ms. Marvel existing independent of the Inhumans mythology. And Iman Vellani captures the essence of Kamala’s character.

Ms. Marvel Kamala and Bruno

Ms. Marvel may not have been made for me, but I like it. I would go so far as to say it’s one of the stronger productions Marvel Studios has made for Disney+. I enjoyed it immensely and plan to keep watching it. I suggest you do the same.

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