Review: A new kid on the block, Ms Marvel is the latest addition to the Marvel family.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 07: Sadiq Khan during a special community screening of "Ms Marvel" at Rich Mix Cinema on June 07, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK)

Amongst the newest calibre of characters to be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Kamala Khan is a Muslim American teen with unyielding potential. Out now on Disney + the Jersey City resident is a dreamer with an oversized colourful imagination that has a habit of being squished by the realities of everyday life. Lost between the two worlds she navigates between the realities of being an outcast. Her Pakistani parents don’t quite understand her American lifestyle and her classmates don’t quite understand her.

A superhero superfan who idolises the powerful Captain Marvel, the first episode titled ‘Generation Why’ directed by Adil & Bilall centres around Kamala’s excitement to attend the AvengerCon. Her hopes become dashed as her strict parents tell her that she can’t go. The episode navigates her innovative and creative perspective as she tries to find a way to make it to the event. 

Ms Marvel provides a glimmer into the world of Marvel through the perspective of not only a South Asian character but through the eyes of a teenager. Having spent years fully immersed in the Marvel universe I’ve seen many characters come and go, however, one thing I didn’t see, is someone that I could fully relate to in terms of my cultural identity. It was refreshing to see someone who is in the same cultural circle become represented in this way. The show reflects the depth and duality of her upbringing as she is trying to find her voice in an environment where she is told to stick by the rules.

There is a poignant moment in the first episode that reflected the generational miscommunication between Kamala and her parents. As a compromise her parents tell Kamala that she can go to AvengerCon, however, it does come with special conditions. Her mum states that she would first need to go with her dad and she wouldn’t be able to wear her Captain Marvel outfit, instead her mum customises a green salwar kameez to mimic a hulk costume. Her dad also jumps into the conversation and excitedly burst into the room with green face paint and an outfit to match.

Seething with embarrassment she gives a knee-jerk reaction and tells her parents she can’t wear it because it’s humiliating. Heightening the cultural and generational ridge between them this scene was hard to watch. Their heart sunk, although in their eyes they tried to meet halfway with Kamala, but they weren’t on the same page. This scene was powerful and showed although her parents did have her best interest at heart they didn’t understand that Kamala needed independence and to form an identity outside of her household and school. 

The series also captured the awkwardness of being a teenager and the longing to find a tribe that understands her. Not fully fitting in with both her family and friends she looks in admiration to The Avengers and they provide a safe haven for her. A lot of the superhero origin stories arise from the fact that they don’t quite fit in with the norms of society and their uniqueness becomes their superpower. Fitting in with people who don’t quite fit in becomes an identity in itself and I feel it will be central to her character.

Marvel Studios in the last few years have represented numerous global voices and watching the impact of Black Panther paid testament to how a superhero franchise could show the richness and beauty of a culture. This was also shown in Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, which also succeeded in showing Shang-Chi’s culture and the battle between his identity of being both American and Chinese. Adding to the list, it’s now time for Ms Marvel to take centre stage as she becomes the first South Asian lead in a Marvel show.

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