TV Review: Ms. Marvel Features a Relatable Breakout Performance From Iman Vellani in the Titular Role

TV Review: Ms. Marvel Features a Relatable Breakout Performance From Iman Vellani in the Titular Role

Dreaming big to not only expand their own personal experiences, but also help improve overall society, is an admirable goal for teenagers who are longing to find their rightful place in the world. Kamala Khan, the titular teen protagonist of the new Marvel mini-series, Ms. Marvel, is one such adolescent who draws from her own past and relationships to implement equal representation around the world.

The coming-of-age comedy showcases how the eponymous heroine is a normal, relatable teen girl who suddenly develops powers just like the Avengers and other superheros she has long idolized. Ms. Marvel introduces Kamala (Iman Vellani), a Muslim American teenager growing up in Jersey City, New Jersey, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). An avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction writer, Kamala is a super hero megafan with an oversized imagination.

Despite hanging out with her best friend, Bruno (Matt Lintz), Kamala still feels like she doesn’t fit in at her high school and sometimes even at home. But her feeling of discontent over being overlooked changes when she develops superpowers like the heroes she’s always admired.

The character, who idolizes Carol Danvers, first appeared in the Captain Marvel comic book series in 2013, before she was given her own spin-off series the following year. The spin-off series made history, as Kamala became the first Muslim character to headline her own Marvel comic book.

Throughout the action-adventure Disney+ television series, which is based on the Ms. Marvel comic book series, Vellani infuses her portrayal of the titular hero with equal strength and vulnerabilities that make her relatable. The performer, who made her acting debut on the six-episode show, naturally emphasizes that her character’s a Pakistani-American teenage girl who’s driven to find the place where she feels like she truly belongs and fits in.

Despite not always living up to the expectations of her strict parents, Muneeba and Yusuf (Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur), Kamala effortlessly embodies the principals that drive Marvel superheros to succeed: learning how to overcome their own troubled past and flaws in order to protect mankind from its biggest enemies.

Led by series creator, Bisha K. Ali, who also served as the head writer and an executive producer, Ms. Marvel puts a much-needed new narrative lens on the superheros that led the MCU. Ali and her co-scribes emphasize that Kamala, who doesn’t have the fancy technology and armor that some of her fellow Marvel superheros rely on, instead utilizes her recently formed natural ability to harness cosmic energy to stop her newfound enemies.

Besides fighting her opponents who wish to cause physical chaos and harm to the world, the modern, nuanced protagonist also fights for equal representation for all nationalities and genders. She proves that anyone, even teen girls from diverse nationalities and religions who haven’t set out on their own journeys in the world yet, can do anything they set their minds to.

Ms. Marvel features an overarching authentic storyline with an authentic, relatable character heroine who fearlessly breaks down cultural and gender barriers. Despite her character feeling vulnerable amongst her family and peers at times, Kamala’s curious and passionate nature allows her to expand past her own personal experiences and place in society in order to protect the world.

Vellani’s genuine connection to her character effortlessly proves that people of all backgrounds can be true superheros, even if they don’t come from privilege like the role models they see in the media. The actress’ breakout acting debut is bolstered by Ms. Marvel‘s writing team, which puts a much-needed new grounded perspective on the superheros that lead the MCU. Kamala’s natural ability to overcome social barriers and fight for what she believes in makes the show a vital entry in the MCU.

The first two episodes of Ms. Marvel are currently streaming on Disney+.

Grade: B+

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

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