Nothing marvellous about Ms. Marvel
This review contains spoiler(s)
Turns out, that you just need to watch something atrocious to want to write a review after a short sabbatical from writing reviews.
It’s not to say I wasn’t inspired when I streamed a bunch of trash and others between May-July but Ms. Marvel deserves a spot here for several reasons. The hype for diversity representation, retelling of the India-Pakistan partition, South Asian diaspora simping for a South Asian superhero — it’s all been the talk of the town for the last few weeks and the more I engaged with it weekly, the more troublesome it became.
For starters, and I promise to keep this brief, Disney’s Ms. Marvel was miles away from the comic book ideation; while that is okay, what’s not are the inconsistencies. Pointed out by a friend on his Twitter, Kamala’s time-travelling ability to save her grandmother during the last train to help her find the stars (aka unlocking her powers) defies the premise of Marvel’s time-travel theory, wherein you cannot save lives going in the past. You can come at me with a time-loop point in the subsequent seasons between TV series, films, and post-credit scenes but come on. You cannot conveniently produce a significant plot point and then shy away from it during the initiation of another superhero and make your audience wait for 6 seasons and a movie.
In the same line of thought, Ms. Marvel’s harnessing of her powers has been slightly confusing over the multiple episodes. Is it the bracelet/bangle? Is it herself? I’m willing to take into account that I missed a significant explanation somewhere but all episodes in, it’s unclear to me where she generates her abilities from. In the last episode, Brian talks about the rare mutation in her genes, and surprise, surprise, guess who else has a rare mutated gene? My father and yours truly. However, I can confirm that neither the old man nor I am a djinn or a superhero. We are just annoying, like most self-respected South Asians.
Now, this is where I really begin my rant — Ms. Marvel seemed like an exercise in marketing more than a typical Marvel media commodity.
Hear me out. What is the logline for Disney’s Ms. Marvel? Is it about the various issues that plague Muslims around the world with South Asian origins? Is it racial profiling by the cops? Is it about a South Asian Marvel fan discovering that she has superhero abilities herself and that she can fight the world and save lives? Is it about teenage rebellion? Is it about educating the world on the issues that plague generations of Indians and Pakistanis on account of the shared trauma induced by the partition? From my understanding, it’s an attempt at layering many complex issues of identity and case proof with Marvel branding with trending indie pop numbers from the past year to now.
I also can’t say I particularly enjoyed any relationship arc; Kamala’s parents with her are inconsistent. The brother’s personality is a shade of strange (is he neurodivergent?) without any responsibility from the showrunners in explaining how and why. I feel for his wife, does she know what has she signed up for? Kamala herself gives expressions like she’s on an episode of Jane the Virgin (2014–2019) and about to enter the Freaky Friday (2003) film universe. I’m honestly unsure of the agenda behind making this series cause it is like a pulao where no component has come out well cooked and these layers are forced to blend with one another. The series had tremendous potential but it’s all wasted and how.
Let the girlies gatekeep this one as a prelude to Greta Gerwig’s Barbie (2023). I understand Marvel isn’t discriminating on the basis of gender, caste, race, colour, and other identities but this one is strictly for the same audience that believes in the teen films from the aughts and the romance between Chuck and Blair.
If I learned anything from Ms. Marvel it is that YRF’s Dil Bole Hadippa is a ubiquitous choice for a wedding performance choreographed number and the background track when you’re fighting the cops as a superhero. Skip this and stream The Boys (2019) on Prime Videos instead. In short, not for serious fans.