Marvel Studios has been plumbing Marvel Comics for characters, both new and old, to use for TV series. While not necessarily blockbuster spectacular in effects, the TV series allow the audience to get to make connections with the characters. Hawkeye provided a spotlight on the Avengers’ archer while Moon Knight managed to pull together the character’s disparate backgrounds. Not every character needs a big movie, and sometimes even the ones who do need a more intimate story.

Before getting into the meat of the analysis, a quick discussion on Marvel’s characters. Marvel characters tend to pick up and drop code names. Some of it is for behind-the-scenes legal moves to keep the name in Marvel’s grasp. Clint Barton has been Hawkeye, Goliath, Ronin, and the Golden Archer. Hank Pym has been Ant-Man, Goliath, and Yellowjacket. And with both men having been Goliath, that brings up that many characters have shared the same code name. There are currently two Hawkeyes, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop, operating in the comics, sometimes even working together.

That leads to Ms. Marvel. Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel, began her superheroing career using the Ms. Marvel code name. When she became the latest Captain Marvel, the Ms. Marvel code name was open for use. Enter Kamala Khan, a young Pakistani-American Muslim woman. Kamala is a superhero fangirl who writes fanfic under the name “Slothbaby”. She is also part Inhuman. When per powers – elasticity and shape changing – emerged, Kamala followed in the footsteps of Danvers and became Ms. Marvel, balancing her home life, school life, and heroing life as best she can. The creative minds behind Ms. Marvel are editors Sana Amarat and Stephen Wicker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artists Jamie McKenzie and Adrian Alphona.

The comic itself explored the realities of a Muslim teenager with traditional parents going to school, balancing the pressures of family, friends, home, school, then adding in the responsibilities of superheroing. Kamala is a superhero fangirl and is well-versed on the heroes and villains of Marvel Comics, which does help her as a superhero. She has worked with Carol Danvers, Miles Morales/Spider-Man, and Doreen Green, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

With Ms. Marvel being a young woman headlining her own title, the character is an obvious choice for a Disney+ series. Ms. Marvel was released over a six-week period in June and July of 2022. The miniseries stars Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, Zenobia Shroff as her mother Muneeba, Mohan Kapur as her father Yusuf, Saagar Shalkh as her brother Aamir, Matt Lintz as her best friend Bruno, Yasmeen Fletcher as her friend Nakia, and Rish Shah as Kamran. Bisha K. Aki, a British-Pakistani screenwriter, created the series for Disney+.

The series takes its tone from the comics, with Kamala a young Muslim woman in her late teens, dealing with a clash of cultures between family, friends, and schools. With the strength of the cast, the series acts as a slice of life and coming of age story for Kamala. There are times where the superhero aspects interfere with the story. Kamala’s family feels like any close family, with her parents worried about her and trying to balance her becoming an adult with keeping her safe.

Kamala’s powers changed. Instead of elasticity, she can extend solid energy shields, using them in similar ways to the point where she can form hands from them. Essentially, the visuals are different, but the results are the same, and the special effects can gloss over any problems. The source, as far as Kamala is told, is different. The Clandestines, a group of djinn trapped from returning to their home dimension, tell Kamala that she is one of them, but Bruno later tells her that there is a difference between her genetics and what he was able to analyse from the Clandestines.

The series has two groups of villains. The first is the abovementioned Clandestines, whose goal is to go home even if it destroys Kalama’s world. Kamala defeats them by appealing to them, using a shared culture and dichotomy to get them to see things differently. The other villains are a unit from the Department of Damage Control, led by rogue agent Deever (Alysia Reiner). In the comics, Damage Control is a private company specializing in cleaning up and rebuilding after a superhero battle. Their New York office is profitable as a result. In the miniseries, Damage Control is a government department charged with not just clean up but also containing and detaining those with superpowers.

Deever takes her job far too seriously to the point of ignoring social norms, including not removing her shoes or covering her head in a mosque. The climactic battle between Kamala and her friends with Deever’s unit causes friction with Jersey’s Muslim community, especially when her tactics are broadcast over social media. Much like the battle with the Clandestines, the fight with Damage Control is won not through force, but through community. Deever is on the wrong side of what the community wants and is ordered by her superior to back down.

Ms. Marvel may be a character who deserves both the intimate story and the blockbuster movie. The miniseries kept to the core of who the character is, a young Muslim woman in her mid-teens trying to balance the different factors pulling on her while she tries to figure out who she is. The changes made don’t detract from the important elements of her story, with a creative staff that is well aware of the culture being presented. Marvel Studios’ success comes from finding the right people to tell a character’s story, and with Ms. Marvel, they had the perfect combo.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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