Ms. Marvel: Destined

Ok, it’s time to… make my fist glow? That’s not helpful, powers.

Ms. Marvel’s Disney+ series has been getting great reviews, and I think it’s earned them. The show is light, and fun, and the interesting visuals fit the character perfectly. We’ve had a few hints that Kamala’s powers might have something to do with her family’s history, and that idea gets fleshed out in this episode. There are a lot of balls in the air as we see what Kamala is “Destined” for.

Last time, Aamir commented that every Pakistani family had a Partition story, and that none of them are good. This episode starts off in 1942, in British Occupied India, as some people desperately search in the ruins of a temple, and there’s reference to a “bangle” like the one Kamala recently got that seems to have unlocked her powers. The floor of the temple is a nod to a different Marvel property, and interestingly, some of what they find hints at a tie to the comic book origins of Kamala’s abilities. We learn something interesting about the piece of jewelry in question, and see that some of what Kamala has been going through is, at the very least, not unique to her. In the present, Kamala is told some of Sana’s history, and there’s some entertaining banter among her group. Kamala toys with some new codenames as she learns bits and pieces of things, and then gets a shock as she hears more about Sana’s people.

Reeling, Kamala goes to talk to Bruno. He’s as surprised as she was, and makes a few good jokes. She asks for his help as the resident genius in her life, and there’s another link to the wider MCU. While this goes on, Agent Deever visits the mosque, and gets jokes from the Imam and then put in her place by Nakia, who proves to be very formidable, even if her original sources are a bit suspect. Later, Nakia and Kamala meet up, get some great banter in that shows the warmth and depth of their friendship, and Kamala hears some things she hadn’t considered about her alter ego’s exploits.

At the rehearsal dinner, or the equivalent of that in this culture, Tyesha the fiancé is impressed at the Khan family’s devotion to each other. It’s a fun scene with some great humor and more hints about a secret in the family’s past. There’s a lot of talk about the city’s new hero, and Kamala doesn’t like a lot of what she hears. Bruno has left her a box, but has to work and miss the party. After a brief chat with the Imam, Kamala opens her gift from Bruno and we see another element of the comic book Ms. Marvel costume. Multitasking at work, Bruno researches the leads Kamala gave him. He gets an unexpected visitor, some help in his task, and a nod to a classic advertising campaign that ran through Marvel (and DC) comics back in the 70’s that old-time comic readers will surely recognize.

Much later, Kamala is feeling the aftereffects of her run-in with Damage Control, and Bruno tries to bring her up to speed on what he’s learned. Bruno really is a genius and Kamala doesn’t share that particular gift, at least not in this field. There’s more talk of Carol Danvers, and Bruno shares some news he’s been trying to tell her for a while. She asks why he didn’t tell her before this, and I think he shows remarkable restraint in his answer. I do like Kamala a lot, but her tendency to live in her world means she occasionally misses important things in other people’s lives. Going home, Kamala tends to her earlier bruises, gets some help from her mother, and they have a really nice mother/daughter scene.

The show really impressed me with the next scene. They spend a lot of time on the wedding, and they didn’t try and make it a traditional, European one. I can’t say if it was an actual Pakistani and/or Muslim ceremony, as I don’t know enough to judge, but it seems from what I’ve seen that it was. I also really like how much Bruno is part of the Khan family. There are, of course, clouds on the horizon, as we see Kamran finding out some disturbing things about Sana’s plans. A lot of what she’s saying doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I suspect she either has some other issues going on, or there’s more going on than we’ve learned so far.

The wedding goes on and proves to be a really entertaining spectacle. There’s a very impressive dance number that takes some of the attendees by surprise. What could be a very important moment between Kamala and Bruno gets interrupted when Kamran shows up, much to Kamala’s confusion and Bruno’s annoyance. Things spin out of control at this point, but even as the chaos starts, Kamala still is trying to talk things out. That’s a perfectly in character moment for her, and it was a nice little touch. Kamala also proves to be very concerned about innocent bystanders, a trait the Marvel heroes seem to consistently have, and the DC ones in general ignore in movies lately. Kamran stands by his new friend, but is vastly outnumbered and outgunned. Things are looking grim when an unexpected new faction arrives and tips the balance in a different direction. Part of the earlier battle really seem to be a callback to a classic stalking scene in a blockbuster movie from years ago. The end of the battle leaves a possible ally in a lot of trouble, another one injured, and someone else learning a big secret at a really bad time.

There is some major fallout from the battle interrupting the wedding. Kamala is in trouble, but not quite in the way it seemed like would happen. Her family is concerned, and Kamala is torn, but I don’t quite understand why she’s keeping this a secret. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason for this, and I’m not sure what’s going through her head here. Saddened, Kamala retreats to her room, gets a very unexpected phone call, and there’s a surprising reveal and what semes like a big hint about what’s happening next episode.

What I Liked: Kamala is utterly charming, and I’m really enjoying seeing her adventures. She’s a good kid, struggling hard to become a hero. I’m really liking Bruno as well. Nakia finally got some decent screen time, and she’s a force to be reckoned with. The scene with Mr. Khan and Bruno at the Circle Q was really entertaining, and the Kamala scene with her mother was really well done. The wedding was fantastic. It was nice to get a few more ties to the larger MCU, aside from the Trust A Bro movers in the credits that were such a big part of Hawkeye. I’m still not wild about Kamran, but he gets huge points for going against his family to do what’s right.

What I Didn’t: I’m mystified by Sana’s sudden change in direction. She went from patient and kind to full-blown supervillain on what seemed like a whim. I’m also not clear on why Kamala feels the need to keep everything going on secret from her family. Deever from Damage Control is unpleasant to the point being nearly a parody more than an actual character.

The series is still impressing me on every level, and Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan is great. I’m giving this episode a 4 out of 5, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

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