Ms. Marvel has finally wrapped its six-episode run on Disney+. The Kamala Khan-centric series, focused on young Ms. Kahn as she discovered a set of extraordinary powers courtesy of a bangle in her family's attic. The series was praised for its lead star Iman Vellani, as well as the creative use of Spider-Verse-like visual flair that played off of Kamala's youthful energy.
Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah brought a new visual language to the MCU, with unique on-screen moments like the visualization of text messages in a bedroom nightlight, or a hand-drawn plan coming to life on a whiteboard. It was a style that many took notice of, comparing it to the likes of Scott Pilgrim and, of course, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
And while every episode features some visual flourish of some type (something reviewers loved), some fans have noted that it felt like these touches did trail off a bit as the series went on. So why was that? Well, the two men behind the show have spoken out on the subject, saying Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige may have had something to do with it.
Kevin Feige Tones Down Ms. Marvel
In an interview with Collider, Ms. Marvel directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah reflected on the unique visual style the pair brought to the MCU show and what Kevin Feige had to say about it.
Speaking about the unique animation and visual flair in the series, El Arbi noted that from the beginning, Feige wanted the pair to "do the first and the last [episode]" in order "to create a style" that the other directors could hopefully emulate:
"That was during the beginning of COVID 2020. We just had the job, and Kevin Feige specifically wanted us to do the first and the last one, because he felt like [with] bookends, we would create a style, the visual style of it all, and then we would just try to finish it in a satisfying finale. That was always his decision, to do it like that."
It was then that the directing duo came up with the visual flourishes seen in the show, saying that when they presented it to Feige he said he loved it, but warned "Don’t do it too much and stay true to the characters:”
That animation was not really present in the script, was not really in a concept, so that’s something that we brought. That’s why we were like, “Yeah, we have to bring that animation.” We are fans of the comic book and the comic book aesthetic, and we really wanted to get inside of the head of Kamala Khan and show her fantasy world imagination. We came up with this animation, that’s also inspiration from the Spider-Verse or Edgar Wright movies, Scott Pilgrim. That’s when we made the presentation to Kevin Feige, and he said, “Yeah, I like it. I love it. But just don’t go overboard. Don’t do it too much and stay true to the characters.” That’s how we brought that animation to life in this show."
Speaking with IndieWire, the pair said that these moments of animation were meant to create a clear division between Kamala's "fantasyland versus the normalcy of her everyday life:"
"It started with the sequence when she tells Bruno how she’s imagining her plan of sneaking out of the house, to then executing it. It was clear to me and was clear on the page that this [is] fantasyland versus the normalcy of her everyday life. That was part of this thinking of [having] heightened elements in this show. There were conversations around what the world should look like, what the color scheme of her powers should be, things like that that I was so excited about. A year-and-a-half later, the directors came on board and they added their own creativity and brought that to life even more. It was really this snowball effect of all these creatives working together and getting inspired by each other, which was really cool."
Into The Ms. Marvel-Verse
While some may agree with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige here, many will read the above quotes and think "Why the heck did he have to say that?'" Marvel Studios has become notorious in some circles for silencing the voice of its creators when making something in the MCU.
One of the more notable examples was back during the production of Ant-Man when director Edgar Wright left the project due to creative differences. Many took this to mean that Wright had left because Marvel was not going to let him make the movie he wanted to make, and without 100% creative freedom, he left for greener pastures.
Was Marvel doing the same and dampening the creativity of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah? Maybe a tiny bit, but for the most part, it seems they got to tell the story they wanted to - mutant Kamala and all.
Perhaps seeing how successfull Ms. Marvel's debut was and just how much the Spider-Verse-esque moments of visual magic were praised, Marvel Studios will take a step back and allow for even further implementation of the technique for a potential Season 2 (if there is one).
All six episodes in Season 1 of Ms. Marvel are available to stream now on Disney+.