Let’s Talk about Ms. Marvel Episode 1-1
Let’s talk about the introduction of Kamala Khan to the MCU, as we look back on Ms. Marvel episode 1-1
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuted on Disney+, a daring series went first. So, I don’t think it’s fair to say that the MCU on Disney+ hasn’t taken any chances to date.
However, what it hasn’t done is introduce a new lead character guaranteed to appear in an upcoming movie. Moon Knight functions as an entirely standalone entity, and the MCU already had a Hawkeye.
For these reasons, the latest offering on Disney+ represents a first. Let’s talk about Ms. Marvel, the introduction of Kamala Khan to the MCU.
The premiere episode comes with an unexpected title, as Generation Y usually applies to people born in the early 1980s to mid-1990s. Khan embodies children of the 21st century, as the opening scene demonstrates. She’s a creative person who thinks in terms of story.
The start of the episode recounts the Battle of Earth from the perspective of a Captain Marvel superfan, something that’s canon in the comics. During the course of this intro, we learn that the teen girl holds a simple dream. She wants to cosplay as Captain Marvel at the first-ever Avenger Con.
Like so many members of the current generation, Khan throws her thoughts on the web and hopes to be heard. Alas, nobody appears to listen…or watch. Khan’s Sloth Baby Productions claims two measly subscribers, and it’s easy to guess who they are.
One is Khan herself, while the other is Bruno, her best friend. The two of them use each other as a shield against the perils of high school. Before that happens, we meet Kamala’s family, Pakistani-Americans living in America.
Her father, Yusuf, clearly worships his daughter, while her mother, Muneeba, is…less impressed. Also, she has an older brother named Aamir who is getting married soon.
What happens next may or may not play into that last part. Kamala fails her driver’s license test in novel fashion. She backs into the instructor’s car. I cannot decide whether Khan planned this, as it screws her out of attending Avenger Con. She can no longer drive to the event.
However, she DOES get out of running errands for her brother’s wedding, a thought that makes her smile.
Is Kamila a clever strategist or lucky bad driver? It’s probably the latter, but I want to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Sky High II
Disney has already made a movie about a superhero high school. So, some of the scenes at Kamala’s high school feel lacking in originality.
Even her high school guidance counselor, Mr. Wilson, strikes me as identical to Peter Parker’s academic decathlon teacher in the MCU/Sony Spider-Man franchise.
Still, Ms. Marvel displays remarkable flair and innovention when Kamala and Bruno talk. Their suggestions play out as special effects in the background.
The best implementation occurs when they text one another. Random emojis on storefronts wasn’t something I knew I needed until the show gave it to me.
The gist of the first half of the episode is that Bruno believes Kamala’s mother will drive them to Avenger Con as long as her daughter asks nicely.
Bruno clearly doesn’t know Kamala’s mother well enough. She’s decidedly anti-superhero fashion, which she deems a bit too revealing.
Ms. Marvel sneaks in a few plot points during these conversations. One involves her grandmother’s care package, which includes some suspicious bracelets. There’s totally no chance those give Kamala Khan superpowers. That would be ridiculous.
Also, Bruno is a tech genius who plans to go to Cal Tech. He also builds a smart home system for Kamala’s extremely impressed father. It even understands Urdu!
The genius tech wiz trope has grown unavoidable in comics. However, I like that we’re witnessing Bruno at his start. I hope he doesn’t turn evil down the line. As is, Bruno already demonstrates more talent than Justin Hammer, and the teen’s only like 16.
Avengers Con Shenanigans
Kamala’s mother isn’t the hideous shrew she acted like earlier in the episode. In fact, Muneeba warms to the idea of Avengers Con. The woman builds two Hulk costumes, one for her husband and one for her daughter.
Like any respectable teenager, Kamala acts mortified by the thought of appearing in THAT outfit with her father. And her behavior crushes the poor man. In the process, Kamala ruins any chance of going to Avenger Con, at least with her parents’ permission.
So, Bruno and Khan come up with a plan. Well, it’s Kamala’s plan, and it lacks several elements of believability. The teens will jump their bikes off a bridge, land on a bus, and then win the cosplay costume competition. At best, one of those things could happen.
Still, they’re teenagers, and that means they’re going for it! Of course, the plan immediately collapses in several ways.
Eventually, the duo winds up on the bus, albeit at the expense of Kamala’s bike. Don’t worry, folks! She’ll have the power of flight soon! Once our plucky heroes get to Avengers Con, I’m in awe of the imagination on display.
Somebody at Disney has opened up their wallet and told the set designers and writers to go nuts. This place is glorious! Of course, Disney should spend a lot of money on this scene. It legitimizes the notion of Avengers Con to the point that I expect a real one within five years.
Seriously, you can and should freeze-frame every segment of the introduction to Avengers Con. It’s sublime.
Kamala does a meet and greet with “Thor” (and Bruno wielding Mjolnir!), the Tony Stark dancers return, a giant Hulk Hand smashes through a wall, and a wall pays tribute to Black Widow and Stark’s sacrifices. I could go on, but you must appreciate it for yourself.
In a way, this quick sequence exemplifies the vigor of the entire episode. It’s a kinetic mess of joy, and I love it. Still, all the humor in this segment plays a backup role to the origin story of Ms. Marvel.
Bruno has built Kamala what I can only describe as Lite Brite gloves, but she loses them in the bathroom. So, the teen girl goes with Plan B and wears her granny’s bracer. That’s when everything goes sideways.
Khan goes on stage for the best cosplay costume voting and suddenly displays superpowers. She shoots…something out of her hand. This action comes with the unintended consequence of causing an Ant-Man head to fall, jeopardizing Kamala’s classmate and former friend, Zoe.
As Zoe plummets to her death, the new Ms. Marvel performs her signature embiggening move, stretching out her fist to slow the other teen’s descent. For fans of the comics, that’s a perfect moment. For Khan, it’s a confusing one, as she doesn’t understand what has happened.
Consequences and Repercussions
This episode is undeniably Scott Pilgrim-flavored in its style and vibe. So, we’re supposed to feel more than think. Ergo, the story wraps up quickly after Kamala Khan turns into Ms. Marvel for the first time.
Bruno and Kamala head home, as both wonder what in the blue hell just happened. Once Kamala arrives, her disapproving mother is waiting in her room. Suffice to say that the girl is grounded…and that’s the least of her problems.
What are Kamala’s superpowers, why does she have them, and what does her mother know about the whole thing? After all, she’d quickly told Kamala to hide those bracers when she saw them.
Oh, and the mid-credits scene directly connects with Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Agent Cleary from the Department of Damage Control takes note of the viral video showing Ms. Marvel embiggening.
As a reminder, that guy was a total jerk to Ned and MJ. He was the guy who interrogated them in this scene:
I doubt Cleary will act kinder to Kamala and Bruno. So, that’s our story for the rest of the season.
For now, I’m basking in the glow of an excellent series premiere. Ms. Marvel episode 1-1 is vibrant and gripping, and I’m head over heels in love with it. I give it an A+, a grade Moon Knight never got from me.