Photo: ‘Ms Marvel’
‘Ms. Marvel,’ is the latest addition to the ever-growing franchise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). At this point in time, the franchise is set to usher in a new wave of superheroes, and this series marks the beginning of a story of a modern teenage heroine. The style and filmic form that are used to depict this new heroine, Ms. Marvel, are transformative from earlier installments of the franchise. While these unique stylistic filming techniques are distinct from earlier Marvel films and shows, this does not necessarily equate to them being superior. With much of Marvel’s past success, the new content that they are releasing does not contain the same level of storytelling that was imbued within the core of its first few films. ‘Ms. Marvel,’ with the release of its first episode, struggles to define itself in the world of superhero Cinema. The series, while attempting to be fresh, representative, and all-encompassing, seemingly lacks true quality and vision.
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‘Ms Marvel’: A New Heroine Is Born
‘Ms. Marvel,” is a new Marvel series about a teenage girl named Kamala who finds an old artifact and gains superpowers. In the first episode, Kamala is a completely ordinary sixteen-year-old girl who struggles with controlling but loving parents, and desperately desires for freedom. The latest episode portrays Kamala as a creative, imaginary, day-dreamer who is bored by the tedious nature of everyday life, especially as a child still finishing school. The visuals and animation that are employed in this series are exceptional. It is part of the reason why this series looks notably polished and created with concise attention to detail. The CGI in this series serves as both its greatest addition and the ultimate symbol of the show’s failure. With the level of quality and care that was put into the special effects of ‘Ms. Marvel,’ the content of the story was expected to be carried by the vast budget that was used to produce this Marvel series.
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This dependence upon visuals by Marvel reflects their lack of faith in the caliber of the story. This is essentially the demise of the series as one that is not written with investment and appreciation can never hope to resonate with audiences. Granted, only the first episode has been released, and yet Kamala’s tale of transformation into a superheroine already lacks the basic necessity required for the viewer to connect and relate to the character. That necessity is that Kamala has not experienced any real sense of loss, and thus is not an underdog, one whom audiences can rally around, and hope that they succeed.
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‘Ms. Marvel’: A Series That Promotes Pakistani Representation
‘Ms. Marvel is a series that is dedicated to representation. The main character, Kamala, is a Pakistani American whose parents are traditional, and strict towards the allowance of freedom afforded to women. In one part of the first episode, Kamala’s mother mentions how her only concern should be with finding a man, and “securing a ring,” later in life. The attitude of her mother towards her own personal freedom appears quite unreceptive to the idea of Kamala finding a life outside of being a housewife, and mother. Not only does the series attempt to represent the familial attitudes and dynamics of Pakistani culture, but it also implements dialogue and interactions that would be utilized by Pakistanis. For example, the ways in which the characters greet each other, or relate is utilized through a cultural subtext. Kamala, in a prayer just before her first driving test, whispers the Arabic phrase, “Bismallah.”
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In Muslim religion, practitioners will state this phrase which essentially translates too, “In the name of God.” “This phrase is truly an ideal to be expressed from the heart, an ideal to be expressed with the utmost sincerity, an ideal which leads… towards sacred purpose, the purpose for which we have been given life.” By Kamala whispering this phrase pertinent and relating solely to her Pakistani American heritage and culture, the series, ‘Ms. Marvel,’ shows an adept commitment toward an accurate and authentic depiction of representation. ‘Ms. Marvel’ finds part of its minor success in the fact that it ingrains representation as an aspect that defines the main character and drives her circumstances and choices. For this reason, representation is what carries the story forward.
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‘Ms. Marvel’: Does This Series Live Up To The Greatness Of The Franchise?
‘Ms. Marvel,’ with the release of its visual debut, struggled to find its voice. The series clearly is targeting a younger demographic, aimed now at the youth of America and the world. The originality of the story is distinct, although the writing lacks true inspiration. Kamala, the main character, is innocent and well-meaning; although, the story’s dialogue written for her character never allows the viewer to fully understand her motivations. The story unfolds like any other classic superhero genre series or film where the character is an ordinary individual before they are bestowed with some other worldly artifact or power. The series does little to differentiate itself from this generic storytelling form and instead chooses to prove that it is distinct through its representation, visual effects, and editing. This sadly is not enough to keep this modern take on superheroes afloat, or in the terms of public appreciation, “watchable.”
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Thus the MCU continues to struggle to make its latest generation of heroes as beloved as its original team, The Avengers! The main reason why ‘Ms. Marvel,’ fails to attain the lasting greatness of the first installments of the Marvel franchise is that the writing is below sub-par. The convenience of the entire journey that it takes for Kamala to gain her powers is almost entirely forgettable. Although the acting is admittedly exceptional by all of the cast featured in this new series, there are many times where the dialogue fails to reach the quality and consistency of effort that is reflected by their performances. For these many reasons ‘Ms. Marvel,’ is one of the worst additions to the Marvel franchise as of late. While the show does contain some redeemable qualities such as the cast, representation, and special effects; overall, the series pays little attention to its plot and focuses most of its intent on creating a heroine whom the audience feels nothing towards.
Directors: Meera Menon, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah,
Writers: Bisha K. Ali, Sana Amanat
Cast: Iman Vellani, Alysia Reiner, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Anjali Bhimani, Rish Shah, Farhan Akhtar, Zenobia Shroff, Laurel Marsden, Nimra Bucha
Producers: Bisha K. Ali, Chris Lowenstein, Kevin Feige
Cinematographers: Carmen Cabana, Robrecht Heyvaert, Jules O’Loughlin
By Thomas Jacobs
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, “We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.”
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.