Kamala Khan is coming to terms with her new abilities and the changes, often uncontrollable, that are making her life even more awkward than it was before. Despite this, she’s met a hot new guy – Kamran – who seems just as interested in her as she is in him, but she doesn’t notice the effect this has on her best friend, Bruno. Kamala is also unaware that a shadowy agency is looking for her – and they’re using particularly nefarious methods to do so.
What a joy Iman Vellani is as Kamala Khan. She’s well served by a great script and playful, visually spectacular direction that goes the extra mile to impost Kamala’s infectious personality on the environment. It’s an absolutely note perfect coming of age tale so far, with super powers pretty blatantly standing in for the awkwardness of teenage bodily changes that girls go through. The treatment of youthful infatuation and the exuberant moods that come when it’s reciprocated are very well handled too. I love how Kamala’s culture is so deeply woven into the threads of the story too, with her family history and even the events of the present day making good use of her faith and lifestyle.
Yet it still falls down when it comes to the actual superheroics. Once more, the situation that forces Kamala to act with her powers feels incredibly forced and contrived; though Kamala’s powers look great from a visual standpoint and there’s nothing wrong with the action that kicks off here in that regard, it just doesn’t quite gel in the way that the more grounded stuff does. We don’t know enough about the agency yet either – neither who they are or what they want – for them to be anything more than an inconvenience at this stage.
However, there’s very little in the way of Kamala’s alter ego thus far, meaning that most of this episode is a joyous, only minimally angsty exploration of what it’s like to be a slightly awkward, modern teen (spoiler: pretty much what it’s always been like to be an awkward teen!).
From a musical sequence to the lovely stylistic touches of text appearing in the environment – and another great use of music, though The Weeknd’s absence was sorely noted this time around – Ms Marvel is an audiovisual feast, which works in spite of its slightly lacklustre superhero content and not because of it.
Kamala and her friends are just so likeable and relatable; it’s hard not to be swept along with them. The all too convenient need for Ms Marvel to save the day does, however, burst that bubble a little.
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