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Ms. Marvel Review: Iman Vellani makes delightful debut in MCU as first Muslim-American cosmic superhero Kamala Khan

Who doesn’t love superheroes?  With Marvel Cinematic Universe continuing its spree of releases extending from movies to television to digital, it’s all about honing your skills and embracing your uniqueness. Following WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight, here comes the MCU’s first teen Muslim-American superhero Ms. Marvel who looks up to the superheroes especially Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is your regular 16-year-old high school girl living in the busy city of Jersey who has overprotective Pakistani parents Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), a fun Abu/dad Yusuf (Mohan Kapur), and a brother Aamir (Saagar Shaikh), best friends Bruno (Matt Lintz) and Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher), who idolises superheroes and has regular teen issues. Amid this, she finds herself unique – or one could say there’s something cosmic about her.

SPOILERS! Episode 1 titled “Generation Why”, which premiered on June 8, kicks off with The Weeknd’s banger ‘Blinding Lights’ on the Marvel opening credits. The episode depicts the regular teenage life of Kamala Khan – a not-so-popular high school girl with a nerdy best friend, failing a driving test, keeping a tab on Avengers, and having lingering questions about Captain Marvel. She and Bruno want to attend AvengersCon (a place where everyone celebrates the world’s mightiest superheroes) but there’s one problem – her overbearing parents who are extremely strict and would like her to focus on her studies rather than dream of superheroes. However, like any other teenager, she sneaks out of her house to attend the AvengersCon donning the superhero outfit she made from scratch with the help of Bruno. But, she adds her unique essence to it – an ancient family heirloom, a bracelet, – which, in turn, leads her to acquire these superhero powers. This begins the journey of teen Kamala Khan who wants to explore her unique abilities.

Ms. Marvel is a coming-of-age story featuring 19-year-old Iman Vellani who makes her solid Marvel debut as Kamala Khan. She essays the role with much charm and delight bringing freshness, youthful optimism, and confidence to the small screen. While a lot rides on her shoulders, her take on the MCU’s first Muslim-American superhero is all about irresistible and feel-good vibes. While she leaves a solid impact, her bestie Bruno played by Matt Lintz, brings the nerdy friend character to life, reminding you of Peter Parker’s friend Ned Leeds. As he aces the role, Yasmeen Fletcher brings a solid headstrong hijab-wearing Muslim woman to the Marvel universe. Zenobia Shroff is eccentric as the overprotective mother of Kamala Khan whereas popular Indian actor Mohan Kapoor plays the role of soft-fun dad with nuance. One witness South Asian references throughout the episode – showing the gender bias at the mosque to the mention of Shah Rukh Khan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the desi songs to references of movies, it brings a fun flavor. However, people will be irked with the casting of Indian or Indian descent actors in the series considering it is all about a Pakistani family living in America.

Creator Bisha K. Ali, co-writer Sana Amanat and director duo Adil El-Arbi and Bilall Fallah deliver immaculate vibes with this teen superhero series. The fast-paced series is interesting arrival in an overpowering universe that is often questioned for representation. With the premiere of the Ms. Marvel series, one will have to keep a tab on Kamala Khan and her shenanigans in the cosmic world of madness.

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