When I first heard about the new (then) Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, back in 2014, I had some doubts. I try hard to keep an open mind, and read the first issue, and I rapidly grew to like her. A teen girl, hugely into heroes, writing fanfic and a general geek and sunnily optimistic without being preachy or annoying about it: this is someone I could have, and would have, hung out with in high school. I’ve read her own title through several volumes, and during her time with one of the many Avengers teams, as well as the teen hero group the Champions. Then I heard she was getting a series on Disney+, and I was intrigued. Now it’s finally here, and I have to say I really enjoyed pretty much everything about the first episode.
There have, of course, been a lot of changes from the comic book version to the screen. The MCU has a good track record with this, so I wasn’t too worried going in, and having seen the series premier, I’d say they did well for the most part. Her powers, while they work fine in the comics and cartoons Ms. Marvel has been in, might be a bit hard to translate to live action and look right. Also, in the comics, Ms. Marvel gets her powers from her heritage of being descended from Inhumans. Between the dismal flop the Inhumans series was, and Black Bolt’s cameo in Dr. Strange: Multiverse of Madness, I suspect the MCU is trying to distance itself from the entire concept of the Inhumans.
The episode kicked off in a really creative way, with Kamala really leaning into her fandom, giving an amusing animated display for a Youtube channel she runs. There’s a running thing of background animations running through the show, and they’re really amusing and illuminate her character. There’s also a confirmation of what started as a joke among fans about how the public knows so much about the Avengers, and it’s something a lot of people are already commenting they hope gets made. In rapid order, we get to meet her mother, father, and brother, who are all very similar to their comic incarnations. We see Kamala go through an important teen ritual and it goes spectacularly poorly. Later at school we also get to see Bruno, her best friend, and Nakia, another close friend. We also meet a somewhat odd guidance counselor, named after one of the character creators G. Willow Wilson, who provides comic relief and illustrates some more of her troubles at school. Also present at the school is Zoe, who has a really interesting arc in the comics and hopefully is at the start of that.
Later, we hear about AvengerCon, a fan event that I’d absolutely go to if it were real. Bruno and Kamala also spend some time at the Circle Q, a recurring and important location in the comics. After some more entertaining background animations, Kamala goes home and there’s some more family time. Her family is hugely important in the comics, and I’m glad they are spending time letting us get to know them a bit. There’s a big hint of what’s to come, and a possible reveal of her family’s revised history before Kamala gets dragged off on errands and we see how little she fits in with her Pakistani culture, or her mother’s ideals. Back home, Dad is thrilled with a gadget Bruno has come up with for him, which does a few things at once for us. We see her family is actually fine with Bruno as a friend, eliminating several stereotypical plots right off the bad, and get a hint about Bruno’s skills. Kamala makes her big pitch to the parents about AvengerCon, and it goes predictably poorly. It also turns into some awkwardness with her parents that sends Kamala storming off. All isn’t lost, as her brother makes a kind offer that, as far as I can tell, never gets followed up on or mentioned again.
After some texting with more great visual effects, we skip to morning. Kamala’s parents have made an interesting decision, and if she wasn’t so heavily invested in doing things her way, it might have gone pretty well. But Kamala is a teenager, and a big part of their lives is both being embarrassed by parents and miscommunicating badly. It doesn’t go well for anyone involved. In the background of the next scene, we see that Bruno has his own plans that will certainly change his life, and then he and Kamala talk, have a very awkward scene on the roof, and then hurriedly move past that moment to some clowning around that is clearly two friends who know each other well. Bruno is a very supportive friend and is doing his best to help her.
After some more embarrassing moments at school, Kamala hatches a Mission Impossible-style plan to get them to AvengerCon which even Bruno has questions about. It does provide us some more insight into Kamala’s daydreams, which was entertaining. Bruno makes a suggestion or two about some tweaks for Kamala’s costume for AvengerCon, and her plan lurches into action, such as it is. Suffice to say nothing goes as planned, but they do manage to get there. The Con is apparently at Fort Lehigh, which on the one hand is a nice nod to Cap’s origins and conveniently in New Jersey, but considering it was once the home of some very top secret government work and then hit with a missile strike during Winter Solider, it seems an unlikely location at best. There’s all sorts of Avengers-related merch, lots of costumes, and, although I missed it myself, the LARPers from the Hawkeye series reportedly have a booth here. Kamala gets her moment to shine, and things go badly off the rails. We get an intro to Kamala’s powers, a lot of chaos, and a hurried trip home.
Getting in late, Kamala gets presented with more evidence that she’s not as slick as she thinks she is. She gets a big lecture, which apparently makes no impression, and some closing credits that work in a lot of comic book art as well as the animation style from throughout the episode. Surprisingly, there’s an end credit scene, which makes me wonder if there’s going to be one for each episode. In this, we see Kamala’s debut has been noticed by some people she’d probably prefer hadn’t seen it, and there’s what appears to be a tie to some of the scenes in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Kamala clearly has a lot coming her way, and doesn’t know the majority of it.
What I Liked: Pretty much everything. This was fun, and they included a lot of material from the comics. Iman Vellani is fantastic as Kamala, and I liked Matt Lintz’s Bruno. Muneeba (Mom) was played by Zenobia Shroff, and she got some wonderful lines in with a fantastic delivery. The animation in the backgrounds was a great touch and conveyed Kamala’s personality well. She seems to be more a Youtube-style content creator than a fanfic author as she in the books, but that made for some great visuals and played better onscreen. AvengerCon looked fantastic. The end scene was an interesting addition, and bodes ill, or at least bodes complicated, for Kamala’s coming days. I loved the explanation of how so many people in the MCU know details of key events.
What I Didn’t: I’m not sure Fort Lehigh worked, for the reasons I mentioned above. Kamala seemed a little too smart to really think this plan of hers was going to work. It sort of feels like her brother helping got lost in the shuffle.
This was a lot of fun. It’s going to be a ride, seeing Kamala get a handle on what she can do. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5, and am looking forward to the next episode.