All episodes of Ms. Marvel are now streaming on Disney+.
By Zachary Greenberg
Ms. Marvel, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) show to hit Disney+, recently finished its finale in an uninspiring fashion. Ms. Marvel is by far the lowest-rated modern Marvel series on IMDb at 6.1/10 compared to the other six shows all of whom have above a 7/10. In my opinion, the rating discrepancy makes sense as this show fails to meet the MCU standard fans are used to.
The show started off strong by introducing Kamala’s (Iman Vellani) origin story of becoming Ms. Marvel. The plot at that point seemed simple and fun. We learned about her and her closest friends and family. At the end of the episode, we met the apparent villains of the next few episodes, the United States Department of Damage Control (DODC).
As Kamala is a modern teenage girl, she often is on her phone a lot. I thought the show had a brilliant method of depicting texting. Instead of showing her text messages on a bland phone as most visual media does, we saw all of the conversations blend into the background. Sometimes business signs with fluorescent lights would suddenly change into her texts or kites in the sky would arrange themselves into Kamala’s words. That was really unique, and if the show does one thing right, it’s the creative visuals in the first few episodes.
Nonetheless, there is a reason each episode gets progressively worse ratings on IMDb (until the finale which was its highest rated one at 7.3). The show becomes what I would describe as a nonsensical whirlwind. The plot never really goes anywhere, with so many storylines, side characters, and organizations being introduced. Each episode seemed to get wackier and wackier with not enough serious moments. While the DODC seemed like the main antagonist in the first two episodes, we soon learned the real threat was a group of demon-people from the Noor dimension known as the ClanDestine. That was until the ClanDestine were arrested and then a new group showed up randomly in Pakistan known as the Red Dagger, where Kareem (Aramis Knight), a member of the group attacked Kamala. But then we find out that they’re actually good guys who want to help her stop the ClanDestine. And then the ClanDestine escape prison. But when they try opening the veil to the Noor dimension, they get killed off and their leader Najma (Nimra Bucha) redeems herself by saving Earth’s dimension and closing the veil for her son Kamran’s (Rish Shah) sake. While that might seem like a good ending, the season continues with the return of the DODC bent on capturing Kamran at all costs. You see? It’s extremely confusing.
There were also a lot of plothole issues. The ClanDestine at first presented themselves in episode three as friendly entities trying to get home. Later on in the episode, after Kamala does not help them get home right away so she can attend her brother’s wedding, the Cladestines completely flip 360° and decide to kill her at a public wedding. This transition and strategy made no sense. Why hadn’t they killed Kamala right away and taken her magical bangle that gave her powers while she was sitting in their kitchen unassuming? Further, Kamala didn’t specify that she wouldn’t help them, so why the need for hostility? Najma chose to be impatient for no reason despite the fact she was already waiting on Earth for 100 years and now she was finally near her freedom.
Eventually, the ClanDestine are defeated thanks to the DODC randomly showing up (I have no clue how they knew to come to the fight since only the fire alarm had been pulled), and then Kamala ends up in Pakistan. There, after being assaulted by Kareem, she trusts him after they make a few jokes together and she works with his organization. Literally, the episode before Kamala trusted the ClanDestine who turned out to be evil and now she is seemingly making the same mistake by trusting another mysterious group of people who just a few moments before were attacking her.
Another major problem I had was how the ClanDestines escaped their prison cell in episode 4. The DODC stationed merely two guards to watch over them who were quickly overpowered. The whole scene was probably the most poorly written, least complicated, and cheesy escape sequence I have ever seen.
Besides the plot getting too discombobulated, the CGI was terrible, especially for an MCU production. Kamala’s powers look cartoon-like. Her polymorph powers never seem to naturally flow with her body movement. In the finale, when Kamran’s powers are going out of control, it looks fake and the actors are clearly working extra hard to pretend like something is actually occurring.
Additionally, the acting is pretty terrible. When I watched Moon Knight (2022), Wandavision (2021), and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (2021), certain scenes had me tearing up because of how good the acting, musical score, and emotion of the scene were. In Ms. Marvel, none of the characters seem to know how to bring out any emotion and can’t ever stay serious for more than 30 seconds without cracking a bad joke. This is especially true with Kamala herself who does not have a single heartfelt scene until the fifth episode when she meets her great grandmother Aisha (Mehwish Hayat). Each time something goes wrong for her, she fumbles her way through a corny line to get out of the conflict. During the last episode, there was a great setup for a kiss scene between Kamala and Kamran, but of course, it gets interrupted by Bruno (Matt Lintz).
Even the camera work was horribly done. Many scenes were spinning all over the place or kept cutting away making it difficult for the viewer to follow. I appreciate shows which offer more fluid one-shots without constant cuts, such as Netflix’s Daredevil (2015) and Hawkeye (2021).
There were some enjoyable aspects of the show. The fight scenes were well done, my favorite being between the ClanDestine versus Kamala in episode three. Everyone’s powers were shown off well which was very entertaining. As a New Jersian, I felt a lot of pride seeing Kamala represent our state, particularly in episode four when she wore a New Jersey t-shirt. I also loved the different settings of the show, like when they visited Pakistan and traveled back in time to the 1940s Partition of India.
The finale was decent with some exciting moments such as when we saw Kamala control her powers to protect Kamran from the DODC. However, the scenes in the high school between Kamala and her friends fending off the DODC felt like an unrealistic knockoff of Home Alone. Also, it felt very disassociated from the previous few episodes which focused heavily on the ClanDestine. I honestly felt that the ending of episode five with Najma’s sacrifice would have made for a better conclusion to the show than what we got.
My favorite figure in the show was easily Bruno. He seemed authentic, showing frustration at not being able to win over Kamala due to her connection with Kamran. But when Kamran needed his help, he put that aside to save him. He also was a loyal friend to Kamala doing hours of research to help her learn about her powers and was always by her side even when she was spending more time with Kamran. I was happy with the actor choice as well for Bruno. Forget an Echo spin-off, I want a Bruno series!
In summary, while I didn’t absolutely hate the show, there were so many problems with Ms. Marvel’s freshman outing that it was hard to like. As a lifelong MCU fan since age 10, I was inspired by Iman’s story of a Marvel super-fan becoming a lead actress in an MCU show with no prior experience. Still, the show felt like what would happen if a 16-year-old Tik Toker got superhero powers. Because it is the MCU, I am going to keep watching Marvel content. But if they put out more substandard fare like this one, I am going to have to start thinking twice before I begin each show and make sure the reviews are positive.
Hopefully, if there is another season, the show and Kamala’s character will mature and offer a more serious tone. Hopefully, Kamala will shine in the upcoming film The Marvels where we will get to see her team up with her hero, Captain Marvel. Still, as a show, I would recommend skipping it and watching a YouTube summary explaining what happened if you are a casual Marvel fan who wants to be up to date with the MCU.
I give Ms. Marvel a C-.