During its run, Ms. Marvel has been something of a show of ups and downs.
In the up column has been the show’s main focus of what it’s like to be a fifteen year old Pakistani Muslim who lives is a word where life threatening, cosmic threats are (eventually) thwarted by a population of colourful superheroes. During our time with the delightful Kamala Kahn, we’ve seen an Avengers superfan obtain glittery “hard light” powers from a family heirloom that’s snowballed into a plot that’s not only highlighted the plight of American muslims and the daily suspicion they face, but also has given us all a timely history lesson behind the Partition that occured in India in the 1940’s. Through it all we’ve followed this hero-in-training as she’s struggled to use her powers for good, fought other dimensional beings during a trip to Karachi and even traveled back in time, but while her family, her friends and her world in general have been a genuine delight and a much needed change of pace for the rapidly crowding MCU, some of the more traditional supervillain stuff has admittedly felt a little stale. Can the final episode steady the ship before Kamala can finally meet her hero, Carol Danvers, in the upcoming The Marvels?
After a speedy flight back to New Jersey and a hasty (and ultimately unnecessary) confession to her family that she is the light flinging hero that’s been making the news the last week or so, Kamala heads out to find out what is happening with her best buddy, Bruno and Kamran, the son of a leader of a group of beings called the Clandestines who had gave her life to save the world. As a side effect, Kamran also now has light powers, but is untrained and is on the run from overzealous government containment agency Damage Control and Kamala, now clad in her very own superhero costume thanks to the sewing skills of her mother, heads out to find the two boys and give them aid. However, Kamran’s sate of mind isn’t exactly the greatest at the moment and Kamala realises that not only does she have to protect Kamran from Damage Control, but she’ll also have to protect Damage Control from Kamran – and then on top of that, she’ll also have to protect the innocent bystanders from both of them.
Having to utilize her powers like never before, can Kamala become the kind of hero shes always worshiped from afar while watching out for the people in her neighbourhood – and even if she succeeds, Bruno has one last little surprise for her that could crack the MCU wide open…
So, like I said, Ms. Marvel’s had a bit of a Bumpy ride and unfortunately some of those problems seep into the final episode too, but despite the fact that this is still noticably inferior to the belter of a opening episode (also directed by Adil & Bilall), No Normal hits enough of the right beats to still be a fun finale. But as the show busily reconnects Kamala with her friends and family in New Jersey, some of the charm has slightly worn off as we’re just expected to pick up with Bruno and Nakia’s arcs as if we haven’t been galavanting around Karachi for two whole episodes and the former’s admission to Cal tech and the latter’s successful bid to be on the council of the local mosque are speed through and discarded in fairly short order to get us to some classic Marvel superhero stuff as quick as possible. We’re also lead disappointingly quickly through the reaction of Kamala’s family (essentially done offscreen as they already knew moments before she tells them) and while it’s handled in the MCU’s typical, amusingly glib manner, it feels like the show was building to this particular moment.
So, how does this newest example of MCU villain smiting fare? Honestly, it’s kind of standard stuff, which give us yet another variation of the hero fighting someone with the exact same power set (but green) we’ve seen in a worryingly large amount before, but some key moments like finally seeing Kamala use a variation of “embiggening” from the comics and catching a flying jeep still rank highly as fan favorite moments worth pumping your fist to. Ok, yes, the sight of Kahn and her buddies running around their high school setting boobytraps for swarming government agents like a gaggle of Kevin McAllister’s may dismay for those of you thrusting for a gritty, Winter Soldier style scrap – but then if you were really expecting that from a show about a teen with light powers, then you might be looking in the right place.
However, regardless of your feelings, the main urge you get now that Ms. Marvel’s first, full fledged adventure has now run its course, is that, like any good MCU introduction, you can’t wait to see this newest hero dropped into the superhero community at large to see how the perky little teen fares when surrounded by of the kind of people she’s been posting endless vlogs about. In fact we’ll only have to wait about a year until Kamala takes her next bow in The Marvels, which, of course, is heavily teased in the mid-credits sting, but the mouth waters at the prospect of Ms. Marvel rubbing shoulders with the like of Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man or Hailee Steinfeld’s equally excitable Kate Bishop.
However, its not the inevitable hint at Carol Danvers that’s going to reap all the click bait news items; not when the MCU finally pulled the trigger on the “M” word that fans have been waiting for since forever. That’s right, the word mutant has finally been dropped as Bruno reveals there’s something off about Kamala’s DNA which allowed her to control the powers of the bangle like no one else and this will no doubt signify the flood gates opening to more rapid speculating about Marvel’s next use of the X-Gene. It even comes complete with a few bars of the theme from the 90’s X-Men animated series (much like Patrick Stewart’s entrance in the recent Doctod Strange sequel) and subsequently makes Ms. Marvel impossible to ignore to that vocal contingent that doesnt see the show as “relatable” enough to bother watching.
So despite being something of a bumpy ride, Ms. Marvel manages to comes through in with its promise to honor the character’s roots, gender, age and religion even if it’s more obvious, superhero leanings flounder in comparison. Whatever adventures are next in store for the teenage light-flinger (I suspect after The Marvels, Marvel will be working Iman Vellani at a Tom Holland-style pace in order to capitalize on her youth), the character is in reassuringly embiggened, glowing hands and fingers crossed she continues to… well, marvel.