Skip to main content

Ms. Marvel season 1 review: A super start for MCU’s new hero

It took until 2014 for Marvel to give a Muslim character their own comic book series, but once they did, it wasn’t long before Ms. Marvel‘s teenage protagonist Kamala Khan became one of the publisher’s most popular young heroes. Fast-forward eight years, and Kamala is set to make her live-action debut in the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, which officially welcomes the Pakistani-American teen and her supporting cast into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Although it’s been a speedy road to the spotlight for Kamala Khan, if the first few episodes of Ms. Marvel are any indication of what’s to come for her live-action adventures, she’s got a bright future ahead of her.

Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan stands in her room, making a fist, in a scene from Ms. Marvel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Created by Bisha K. Ali (Four Weddings and a FuneralLoki) for Disney’s streaming service, Ms. Marvel casts newcomer Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old girl in Jersey City, New Jersey, who suddenly finds herself thrust into the world of superheroes she idolizes when she acquires superpowers of her own. Now, instead of writing fan fiction, Kamala must figure out her own superhero story while navigating high school and teenage life.

Each of the MCU shows on Disney+ has brought something new to Marvel’s interconnected, live-action multiverse, and Ms. Marvel is no exception.

The series takes some of the MCU’s boldest leaps so far with its visual storytelling techniques and the myriad ways it blends of live-action, animation, and other on-screen elements to present Kamala’s unique perspective on the world around her. Ms. Marvel also takes plenty of cues from teenage TV of the past with its self-aware willingness to break the fourth wall and directly engage with its audience. It also puts Kamala’s artistic ability to good use with clever, animated sequences based on her drawings peppered throughout each episode.

Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani, imagines confetti and a party around her in a scene from Ms. Marvel.
Marvel Studios

As Kamala, newcomer Vellani channels a genuine joy in playing a character that jumps off the screen. The young actress feels like a natural fit for the role, and makes it easy to see why Marvel was willing to bet so big on an actress with no prior credits. The glee she shows in discovering her powers is infectious, and offers a much-needed alternative to the dour origin stories we’ve grown so accustomed to in superhero sagas.

Vellani isn’t the only bright — and unique — element worth celebrating in Ms. Marvel. The series also does a wonderful job of integrating Kamala’s family into the story in some fun, refreshing ways that make it stand out even further from the crowd of MCU projects.

Playing Kamala’s mother, father, and older brother, respectively, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, and Saagar Shaikh all walk the line expertly between being restrictive and supportive in their relationships to Kamala. There’s a delicate balance they need to strike, and each one hits it in the series’ opening episodes, establishing themselves as a loving family despite their differences in interests and outlooks.

Iman Vellani and the cast of actors playing Kamala Khan's family sit around the dinner table in a scene from Ms. Marvel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s worth noting that, while the series stays true to a lot of Kamala Khan’s comic-book source material in spirit, it does take some big swings in fresh directions, too.

The origin of Kamala’s powers receives a significant rewrite in Ms. Marvel, for example, and the opening chapters of her story don’t follow the comics quite as closely as Hawkeye or other MCU projects. None of these changes are anything to worry about, though, as the series’ writers find some creative ways to bring Kamala into the existing Marvel universe that also allow for some welcome surprises for longtime fans of the character.

While two episodes isn’t exactly a lot to go on when evaluating a series, the preview of Ms. Marvel they do offer is a promising one, and suggests that Kamala Khan’s live-action debut could very well deserve as warm a welcome as her comic-book adventures.

Marvel’s Ms. Marvel series premieres June 8 on the Disney+ streaming service.

Ms. Marvel (2022)

Ms. Marvel
tv-14
1 Season
Genre
Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Comedy
Stars
Iman Vellani, Aramis Knight, Saagar Shaikh
Created by
Bisha K. Ali
Watch on Disney+
Movie images and data from:
Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law review: Green is good in the MCU
Bruce Banner and Jennifer Walters, Hulk and She-Hulk, meditate while facing each other.

Anyone familiar with writer Dan Slott's celebrated run on the She-Hulk comic book series already knew that Marvel's live-action She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series had plenty of potential, but for everyone else, the introduction of Bruce Banner's superhero cousin likely seemed a strange -- and perhaps, unnecessary -- addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet, it doesn't take long for the new Disney+ series to make it clear that actress Tatiana Maslany's green-skinned alter ego, Jennifer Walters, is a character the MCU sorely needed.

Created by Rick and Morty and Silicon Valley writer Jessica Gao, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law casts Maslany as Walters, an ambitious lawyer whose professional aspirations are seemingly derailed when an accidental blood transfusion with her cousin, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), gives her powers similar to those of Hulk. Unlike Banner, however, she's able to control both her transformations and her psyche as She-Hulk. As she attempts to get her life back on track, she soon finds herself dealing with supersized problems she didn't ask for -- including a new job at a legal firm specializing in cases involving superpowers.

Read more
Jennifer Walters enters the MCU in this first look for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
She-Hulk smiling widely in She-Hulk.

Out of the original lineup of Marvel Studios movies, the one film that never got a sequel was The Incredible Hulk. That's because the solo Hulk movie rights are still tied up with Universal, while Marvel had the rights to use Bruce Banner's alter ego as a supporting character in other MCU films. Fortunately, that deal did not extend to television, which is why She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will finally get to expand the MCU's Hulk mythos for the first time since 2008. But make no mistake: She-Hulk is much more than just a female Hulk.

Tatiana Maslany stars in the series as Jennifer Walters, the cousin of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and the closest thing that he has to a sister. When the series begins, Jennifer is a successful Deputy District Attorney and blissfully free of any superhuman abilities. But in the preview clip below, we get to see where Jennifer's life went off track as she and Bruce find themselves facing an unexpected threat.

Read more
The Sandman review: dreamy adaptation exceeds expectations
Tom Sturridge wears a mask and cloak as Morpheus in a scene from The Sandman.

There's been no shortage of skeptics when it came to The Sandman, Netflix's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantastic comic-book saga revolving around Morpheus, the lord of dreams.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest series ever published, Gaiman's comic is a massive, expertly crafted narrative that spans myriad planes of existence and encompasses a wide swath of characters, yet somehow remains powerfully human and familiar in its themes and the mythology that informs it. Efforts to adapt The Sandman began more than two decades ago, with a multitude of starts, stops, and years spent in limbo leading many to believe the best fans could hope for is the sort of messy, soulless translation that typically results from troubled, long-developing projects.

Read more