Ms. Marvel is truly one of a kind. This coming-of-age tale is not to be underestimated, especially with rising star Iman Vellani headlining the project. Billal Fillah and Adil El Arbi direct the season premiere and finale. Meera Menon takes care of episodes two and three, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy works four and five. Bisha K. Ali is the head writer of the series.
You may notice something about the names I mentioned. In case you can’t place it, let me clarify. Vellani, Fillah, El Arbi, Menon, Obaid-Chinoy, and Ali are all Pakistani or Muslim. That’s only happened two times before, with Black Panther (the sequel, Wakanda Forever, will do the same) and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. That sort of representation is generally unheard of throughout Hollywood, so to see it occur with Marvel Studios 4 times in as many years is amazing.
Imean Vellani may be a newcomer to Hollywood, but that hasn’t stopped her from making a splash in her debut project. Next set to appear in The Marvels (which debuts in theaters July 2023), I have a feeling she’ll be a fan favorite by then. The life of a 16-year old Pakistani girl, with a modern personality but with traditional parents, it’s not an easy character to portray. Believe it or not, Iman Vellani succeeds.
As for everyone else, they just serve to amplify Vellani’s brilliance. The supporting cast of Yasmeen Fletcher, Matt Lintz, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Rish Shah, Saagar Shaikh, Fawad Khan, Laurel Marsden is incredible, don’t get me wrong. However, no matter how good each of them is on-screen, they cannot compare to Vellani. She has the same sort of screen-grabbing quality as Robert Downey Jr, which ironically enough is Vellani’s hero.
The media was only sent the first two episodes of Ms. Marvel, so I’ve only been able to see Billal & Adil and Meera Menon’s talents on display. From what I’ve seen from those two directors, though, I love. Look at the image directly below. What do you see? You see two teenagers on a rooftop, with the perfect lighting necessary to communicate the somber feeling of the shot. That’s Adil El Arbi and Billal Fillah on display, right there.
As for Meera Menon, her episode also shines, even if it isn’t as good. I enjoyed the second episode a lot more than the first, but solely because of the story. The first episode, truth be told, has better directing and better visuals. However, that doesn’t mean Menon disappointed. Her episode introduces us to Rish Shah’s Kamran (check out the Ms. Marvel comic run), and has amazing shot choices and transitions (you’ll see why I pointed this out specifically when you see the episode).
The writing for Ms. Marvel is on the level of Loki. It makes sense, considering Bisha K. Ali was a story editor for the latter, and the head writer/showrunner on the former. She also wrote the third episode of Loki. We enter on the MCU title card with Blinding Lights – by The Weeknd – and Kamala Khan is walking into a new day in high school. She goes these trials and tribulations, and her goal at the end of the road, AvengerCon.
AvengerCon is the thing to end all things. Kind of like CinemaCon for members of the entertainment industry, or Comic-Con for hardcore fans. Everyone wants to be there, once in a lifetime opportunity, that sort of nonsense. But it’s high school. and Iman Vellani captures the feeling of that need to go. So, of course, as you know from the trailers, Kamala gets to AvengerCon. But what happens in between is why this is my favorite MCU series to date.
The biggest criticism I’ve seen about Ms. Marvel is the power change. I’m here to give my honest opinion about the series, and my honest opinion is that the power changes are an improvement. Before, Ms. Marvel was the female, teenage version of Mr. Fantastic. Now, she actually has a unique power set that has the capacity for much more powerful things. In my opinion, it’s not just an improvement, it’s a large improvement. The haters will always hate, no matter what, but I have a feeling that the change will make a lot of the MCU fanbase happy.
The representation in the series is portrayed so accurately and prominently, I was shocked for a second. I never expected this from Hollywood, considering the generally negative attitude towards persons of color, unfortunately. Women and persons of color “don’t sell”, according to more than one Hollywood producer. And that’s wrong. But thankfully, Ms. Marvel looks to be a giant step in the right direction.
There you have it. Ms. Marvel is a stunning series, the primary focus being representation and telling a coming-of-age tale. It’s a very grounded entry into the MCU, unlike Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and that’s why it’ll resonate more heavily with viewers. Pakistani, Muslim, and Indian viewers finally have the chance to see themselves in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I have no doubt that fans will be clamoring for a second season upon conclusion of the first.
Ms. Marvel streams on Disney+ June 8, let us know what you thought of the series by mentioning us on Twitter at @ReviewedCinema.