Ms. Marvel: The Ordinary and the Extraordinary

Pakistani-Canadian teenager Iman Vellani shines in Ms. Marvel, the superhero series that has started streaming on Disney+

Ms. Marvel (Photo courtesy: IMDb)
Ms. Marvel (Photo courtesy: IMDb)

Biswadeep Ghosh

Ms. Marvel has been making headlines for a while. The good news is that the first episode of the six-episode series has started streaming on Disney+. It is the seventh TV series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), a media franchise and shared universe whose offerings feature characters from Marvel Comics.

Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American girl who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey. Played by the Pakistani-Canadian actor Iman Vellani, Kamala daydreams, doodles and gets easily distracted. She is a fangirl of Avengers, mainly Captain Marvel. Kamala has two close friends, Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher). All of them study in the same high school.

Often in her own little world, Kamala sees Captain Marvel fly past her when she sits in the backseat of a car after she has failed a driving test. The superhero is the outcome of animation, a little-too-obvious way of showing the girl has been dreaming.

Kamala’s parents (Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur) are conservative, but the mother leads the way. The ungainly girl, however, isn’t all about silence and submission. She makes an effort to assert herself when necessary. Of course, what starts as a story about her life as a regular teenager takes an unusual route towards the end. That revelatory moment is what Marvel fans will be waiting for.

Although the youngster lives in America, she doesn’t seem to be far away from her ancestors’ place of birth. She is trying on a new outfit for her brother’s wedding at a boutique, and that is where she overhears a gossip session. Fatima’s engagement got cancelled, one lady tells another, referring to somebody the viewer doesn’t know. The quick exchange of information suggests that the Pakistani community in Jersey City is tightly knit and small.

Kamala wants to attend AvengerCon, a convention, but her conservative parents do not give the nod right away. They eventually agree, but one of the two conditions is that her father will accompany her. Her parents also choose her outfit for the occasion. It is laughably inappropriate.

Eager to wear her Captain Marvel costume, Kamala finds a way to sneak out of home and attend the event with Bruno. Something suddenly happens after she wears the costume and takes the stage. That signals the start of the superhero story.

The first episode is mostly about Kamala as a Pakistani-American teenager with certain personality traits. The remaining five episodes will have much more about Ms. Marvel, the teenage superhero.

Watching the series will be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, mainly because of Iman Vellani and not just for fans of Marvel Comics.

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