Marvel Studios has delivered some darker stories and plot points as Phase 4 continues through new entries like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Moon Knight. Now, the adventure turns to a more light-hearted adventure in Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel, which just aired the first of its six episodes on Disney+.
Vellani's solo series is already earning high praise from some of the MCU's top names, continuing the trend after the excitement for Ms. Marvel's arrival first started following the show's trailer debuting online. Filled with nods and references to Marvel Studios' storied history, Episode 1 only scratched the surface of what Kamala Khan's origin story will add to the franchise's growing narrative.
Although Ms. Marvel is starting off mostly light-hearted with the 16-year-old starring character, her first MCU outing is sure to get serious and real in the not-too-distant future.
At a recent gathering that featured some of the top names making the series, they teased when things may start to take a darker turn for Kamala as she learns about her newfound abilities.
Ms. Marvel About To Take a Turn
During the global press conference for Marvel Studios' Ms. Marvel, the show's creative team looked ahead to the themes and teases coming in the next five episodes.
Director Adil El Arbi admitted that there will be a couple of darker episodes in the near future where the stakes rise to new levels. Even more so, however, Kamala Khan will dive further into her journey alongside her family and discover her identity at the same time, as shared by executive producer Sana Amanat and director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy:
Moderator: "What we've seen so far is very lighthearted and fun. What can you tell us about the deeper themes of the show and how they will unfold?"
El Arbi: "Well, their episodes are gonna be a little bit darker. The stakes are gonna get higher, so let's discuss ladies."
Amanat: "No spoilers, guys."
Obaid-Chinoy: I think that in searching her identity, Kamala Khan is going to go on this journey to reconnect with her family to understand why it's so important for her to tell her own story and to craft that story. And to feel that she could be that superhero she always wanted to be, except that it would be her being the superhero as opposed to emulating someone else. And on that journey of discovery, we as an audience are going to go on what I can safely say is gonna be the thrill of our lives.
Obaid-Chinoy also took a look at the Pakistani culture coming through in this series, saying that it's "pretty freaking cool" to see it come to life under the Marvel Studios umbrella:
Moderator: "Sharmeen, I wanna go to you. How did you approach balancing the superhero aspect of this with the fact that it's also just a story about a family and a teenage girl? How do you keep those two things relatable to the audiences?"
Obaid-Chinoy: "I think it was about letting the world into the secret that the South Asian culture is pretty freaking cool."
Obaid-Chinoy: "Our food, our music, the way the parents' relationship with the kids are. I wanted to make it cool so that anybody watching it would be like, that was my argument with my mom when I wanted to go out and she's like, 'There are going to be boys there. Stay home.'"
Obaid-Chinoy also shared how great it was to be able to see a new level of representation for "the Muslim world" and "South Asian immigrant families" watching this adventure unfold. It's something truly special for her to see her children have a role model in Kamala Khan to look up to within the MCU:
"And you know, sort of make it such that anyone watching beyond, you know, the Muslim world, South Asian immigrant families watching could see a reflection of themselves on screen. And the superhero bit was just that I always believe that everyone has a superhero in them; they just have to activate it. And telling this story is going to change so much for so many people, because I know I have two young girls that when they see Kamala Khan, they too will know that they can also be a superhero."
When asked what particularly makes Ms. Marvel special, star Iman Vellani discussed how Kamala's understanding of the fan culture is what sets her apart from other similar heroes, which is what hooked Vellani to her character:
Moderator: "There are many up and coming young superheroes. But what makes Ms. Marvel special? What is the, 'It factor,' that makes her stand out among the rest of the other young superheroes? And you know, I'll say we've already heard the Tom Holland here. We've heard, you know, we know there are other young high schooler age people in the MCU. But what is it that makes Kamala stick out?"
Kevin Feige: "Iman."
Vellani: "I think Ms. Marvel, you know, always understood fan culture on such a cellular level, and it just really elevated the storytelling in a really unique way. You know, she's a 16-year-old kid with super powers, fine, we've seen that before. But she's also a fan of every other hero within the MCU canon. And you know, that fascination and excitement is so shared with real-life Marvel fans, so that's why we relate to her. You know? She reacts how we would when she gets powers. And so yeah, I love that part of her, and that's why I fell in love with her."
In Vellani's eyes, Kamala's culture and her Muslim upbringing were only a part of her personality that she experiences every day of her life. She saw a great balance between her Pakistani culture and her place as an "Avengers loving, fanfic writing dork," which drives the show forward more than anything else:
Vellani: "And culture and religion were never the main thing of her personality, it was just some part of her life. You know, how it was for me. It's like, this is the time I wake up. This is the time I go to school. This is the time I pray. This is the time I eat. Like, it's just a set, a normal thing. And we didn't wanna make the show about a Pakistani Muslim, it was about, you know, this Avengers loving, fanfic writing dork, which just so happens to be a Pakistani Muslim. And yeah, I think we were balanced it quite well. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Things About to Get Real for Ms. Marvel
Although only one episode is available to the public right now, Ms. Marvel has separated itself from the MCU's Disney+ pack by bringing a sense of childlike wonder and joy into Phase 4 behind Kamala Khan. Her obsession with Earth's Mightiest Heroes and her knack for fan-fiction and other storytelling puts viewers in the shoes of a teenager living in this universe, and it's largely been a fun time thus far.
Even so, as shown by the first episode's post-credits scene, Kamala's world is about to turn upside down in quite a short amount of time.
The Department of Damage Control learning about her existence is something that fans will pay close attention to, especially since it's the same agent that gave Peter Parker such a hard time in Spider-Man: No Way Home. While it's unknown when Kamala's family will learn about her newfound powers, that's sure to add another layer of drama and intensity to the youngster's origin story as well.
No matter how all the details work out, this Avengers fangirl is about to learn quickly what it really means to be a powered person in a world full of other powered people.
Episode 1 of Ms. Marvel is now available to stream on Disney+. Episode 2 will debut on Disney+ on Wednesday, June 15.