Ms Marvel | tv review
Evolution is usually a slow process, but sometimes there are leaps forward.
Season summary: Kamala feels like she doesn't fit in at school and sometimes even at home, that is until she gets superpowers like the heroes she's looked up to. (IMDb)
How I watched Ms Marvel - seeing the first two episodes and then bingeing the last four - wasn't my normal approach, but I think how my opinion of the weaker middle part of the season differs from most is thanks to not having to live with those episodes for a week at a time. Add this to Hawkeye and Moon Knight, which I think are both better suited to bingeing than weekly releases and I may have to change how I watch these Disney+ shows.
So let's get that negativity about the middle of the show - namely, episodes 3-5 - and they are definitely nowhere close to the quality of episodes 1, 2 and 6. If you were watching each episode on release, you'd essentially have three weeks of mediocre at best entertainment to sit through and can perfectly understand why they would put people off the show as it's bad enough even when bingeing and flying through them.
Even then, the fact that Pakistani history isn't the usual topic of global entertainment franchises, there was still some 'enjoyment' to be gleaned from seeing the chaos of the partition of India and creation of Pakistan. There are a couple of moments where I thought we were really going to see how terrifying that time was, but the show pulled back - disappointing, but understandable to an extent given the younger audience targeted.
Outside of those episodes, Ms Marvel is... well, marvellous. Iman Vellani is a revelation as Kamala Khan in what was her first acting role, bringing the character to life better than anyone else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far - yes, even better than Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans as Iron Man and Cap. It helps that Vellani basically is a real life version of Kamala Khan anyway - it's impossible to tell when she's acting and when she's just being herself.
The majority of the cast are excellent too - specifically, Kamala's friends and family, although there are so many of them that listing everyone whose performances I liked would just be a list of names for the rest of this post - I will only grant special dispensation for Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur as Kamala's parents Muneeba and Yusuf, with the latter always being great fun and the former having arguably the best arc in the show after Kamala herself.
As for the antagonists... meh. Repurposing the ClanDestine family from the comics as a group of powered individuals from another dimension was a weird choice to begin with, and their story doesn't really work. It's fortunate that the line "a hero is only as good as his villain" isn't always true, as Ms Marvel would've been a disaster otherwise - Marvel Studios fortunately tend to focus on the heroes first and - to the disappointment of many - the villains a sometimes distant second, which tends to avoid this issue.
Ms Marvel is a really good show that I would definitely recommend with the caveat of stressing that you should definitely binge it so that those middle episode don't sour you on proceedings. Most of the characters outside of the antagonists are fun, but the bad guys are so prominent in those, that the failure to make them interesting to watch could put you off if you spread the episodes out.
And that would be a shame, as I am really looking forward to seeing how Kamala interacts with Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau in her next adventure - doubly so after that mid-credits scene. It'll be interesting to see what happens after that though, as it's the smaller picture that works much better here than the grand scale 'save the world' stuff that felt crowbarred in at times.
Ms Marvel benefits from having both a strong start and finish, meaning that both your first and last impressions of the show are overwhelmingly positive, even if what's in-between doesn't really measure up in any meaningful way. Iman Vellani being one of the most perfectly-cast actors as Kamala Khan really seals the deal for making the show borderline great and I can't wait to see her in The Marvels.