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Ms Marvel season 1 on Disney Plus has been my wife’s and mine binge show offlate. Disney+ has finally officially launched in the Middle East (as of June 8th 2022), so now I no longer need to jump through hoops to watch my favourite line-up of movies and shows on the platform.
For $9 USD a month, you get the following channels for the Disney Plus Middle East Edition.
- Star Wars
- National Geographic
- Star Network
Note: Certain content is not available in this region. For example, the Marvel movie Eternals due to the nature of some scenes in the movie that are considered controversial. But for the most part, all the shows and movies that I want to watch are there.
So, I am a huge comic fan and nerd it doesn’t quite matter if it is D.C or Marvel that’s if you haven’t guessed that already. My wife on the other hand not so much but she is willing to put up if there is an interesting story and if the series or movie that can hold her attention for more than 30 mins.
Ms Marvel, the comic book character is something that I haven’t followed much and don’t know much about so I was genuinely intrigued about a brown superhero after watching the trailer.
So let’s get on with it.
What is Ms Marvel all about?
Ms Marvel is a story about a young Pakistani Muslim girl from New Jersey and her love for superheroes (Avengers) especially Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel. To say that she is her biggest fan would be a huge understatement. At the end of the day, this is the origin story of Kamala Khan and how she becomes a teenage superhero while dealing with all the challenges that come with the title.
One of the downsides of watching a T.V series post a month after its release is that you can quickly look up the ratings and find out if it is any good (which by the way means nothing because people may have many different opinions etc.)
But on the other hand, I was also quite interested to see how the representation of an Asian superhero would be. By that, I especially mean a brown Muslim girl. To be fair over the years Marvel has done a good job in representation from other cultures like for example Black Panther and Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings
While we are on the subject, just a quick disclosure of sorts. My wife and I are both brown Muslims from India. So, my curiosity about the show was a bit biased because I wanted to see how they would handle the subject and how they would show the culture that most brown (Indian or Pakistani) families share in common.
After watching the first 3 episodes back to back and having the time to digest what we saw. I am happy to say that we quite enjoyed what we saw. By no means was it perfect and it’s like the best show ever on T.V but it does get things right and it’s something that we would like to see through the end.
I think the best way to break this down without spoiling anything much would be to mention what the show does great and where we feel it misses the mark (keeping in the mind this is only the first 3 episodes) but knowing we have only 3 episodes left in the season I hope things do pick up but I am getting ahead of myself.
So lets see what the show misses and gets right according us.
What Ms Marvel Season 1 on Disney Plus gets right
- The animation style and artwork throughout the episodes are done extremely well and it drives home the character who would have their head-in clouds and who has an active imagination.
- When a child gets in trouble and you have to deal with the authority but the parent refuses to accept it’s the child’s fault because the incident would bring shame if people (i.e. community) would find out. Even when it’s clearly your child’s fault.
- What the show gets right is the cultural representation. Hands down any brown person watching the first 3 episodes, would easily go like “yeah that totally happens” they don’t even need to be Muslim. Especially brown parents’ “parenting” tactics and how they deal with situations. These aren’t reserved for one religion it is a universal art that we all share (which sometimes I too am guilty of doing).
- Illumin-aunties are a real thing (trust us on this)
- Great believable cast and acting especially the core crew.
- Great not to see a one-dimensional representation of Muslim Culture where everyone has long beards and want to blow up the world. The show even leans into this and I must say it was done very well.
- Really shows the trials and tribulation of being an immigrant parent in a western world. Especially a world that is full of cosmic superheroes. It’s also great not to see a stereo- typical one-dimensional brown parent. They really try hard to fit into her world and try their best to fit in as well.
What Ms Marvel Season 1 on Disney Plus gets wrong or is missing
- While cultural representation is the show’s greatest strength but it is also its weakness because the behaviours, actions, dialogues, jokes etc. are so nuanced that if you are not from a brown family they are all lost on a “foreign” audience. Plus when there is so much of it there is a high chance a western audience has lost interest because those hooks don’t apply to them in the same way they would if you knew what was happening on screen.
- The story of how the main character gets her powers is quite interesting but not enough is done to dig deep into that fiction and keep the audience engaged.
- For one thing, because your main audience is primarily going to be foreign to these concepts and cultures. It would be also a great idea to equally spend time on explaining why Kamala is different and why that bangle is so special and who or what these “villains” actually are.
- There are some WTF moments as well and when they do come it does seem a bit jarring as they just appeared out of the left field.
- The “Super” hero story takes quite a while to get off the ground. I mean don’t get me wrong I would happily watch a high school drama with this cast of characters but that’s not what we are here for, right?
- The writing for the “villains” or who we think are the villains in Kamala’s story is very weak, almost as if they were like an afterthought.
Like I said earlier I do genuinely want to know how they plan to say her story with only 3 episodes left, my gut feel is that I hope they don’t rush it but then they might have to cause it has been a slow burner so far.
I do appreciate the amount of time writers spent on key characters so that audience watching have some vested interest in the show but I think somewhere plot of the superhero back story is lost. The acting is great and believable. Some of the VFX looks a bit wonky but Hey! I don’t know how much time or budget the team had so it is what it is.
The atmosphere and world building in the show are believable. Where the struggles of Kamala Khan being a brown muslim girl trying to find her own voice and identity. All the while also trying to juggle her new found super powers. Some of her choices do make sense but some feel tacked on.
So far it’s been a decent start and I do hope that they can stick the landing.