After Moon Knight, Miss Marvel arrives on Disney+ to breathe fresh air into the MCU. Mixing genres can sometimes be dangerous. Critical.
After the impressive Infinity Saga, it’s time for Marvel to freshen up its cast with some new characters. Since the arrival of the MCU on Disney +, the series format has revolutionized the way this extended universe works.
Now the Marvel Cinematic Universe is no longer confined to its large format heroes, and offers a golden opportunity to explore secondary characters. The goal: to develop an ever denser and more immersive universe, which will delight all fans of heroes in capes and tights, but not only.
Moon Knight had the right to its moment of glory last April and May on the streaming platform, and this time it is the turn of a young heroine to make her arrival. With a name that is reminiscent of a character that we already know well, Miss Marvel will certainly not go unnoticed. The new series carried by the young actress Iman Velani invites us to meet Kamala Khanan American high school girl with a cosmic destiny.
Between teen movie and superhero movie, Miss Marvel tries to revisit the recipe of the MCU, but such a mixture of genres is unfortunately not without risk. We had the opportunity to preview the first two episodes of the series in order to give you our opinion on the introduction of this series which is intended as a reinvention of heroic works.
A new kind of MCU
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to think outside the box and offering increasingly original experiences. The formula is turned upside down, and new genres and inspirations come to decorate licenses which hitherto struggled to reinvent themselves. With Wanda vision, the house of ideas put sitcoms on the grill, this time it’s the turn of teenage films to be in the spotlight. And nothing better than the character of Kamala Khan to introduce this particular genre.
Above all, the character of Kamala marks a real turning point in terms of representation in the license. Muslim girl of Pakistani descent, Kamala becomes the emblem of contemporary societal themes, which the narration will have the leisure to explore several times. The series does not hesitate to show the reality of minorities in the United States.
But the series is above all an opportunity for Marvel to celebrate a culture that is often erased in the mainstream media, and for spectators to marvel at the richness of the latter.
As a big fan of the Avengers and more particularly of Captain Marvel, the young girl dreams of having her own powers in order to escape from her very boring teenage life. Her parents do not understand her attachment to whimsical stories and characters and want to make their daughter the perfect young Pakistani-American. What she doesn’t know yet is that his family’s past may well have some mystical surprises in store for him…
We then discover the young Kamala living her life as a young high school student. A bit lonely and far from the “cool kids”, she is accompanied by her best friend Bruno who shares her passions as a young geek. We immediately find the typical formula of films for teens, but far from a success like Lolita Despite Me, the atmosphere turns quickly at the Disney Channel Original Movie for children.
Kamala Khan but Kamala Can’t
First of all, it is still important to note that the series succeeds on many counts. The visual identity of the show is new to Marvel (within its own universe) and manages to immerse us in the universe of Kamala through inventive staging ideas. The graffiti of Jersey City come to life to give form to the thoughts of the teenager and the sets are an integral part of the dialogues bringing a very particular dimension to the exchanges.
The messages shared between the characters then appear in the neon lights of the background, and other effects of all kinds make it possible to represent the flawless imagination of the young high school students that we follow. An approach which reminds us of the one adopted by Spider-Man: Next Generation at Sony.
We must also underline the undeniable talent of Iman Velani, who manages to play to perfection a high school student torn between a heavy family heritage and an all-consuming passion. Kamala then becomes a very endearing character, in which young and old can recognize themselves.
However, it’s in setting the high school environment and building the vibe.”young” that the series begins to find its first weaknesses. We don’t make teen movies without clichés, but too many clichés kill the cliché. Miss Marvel has the merit of wanting to offer a series with an original structure, but it sinks too quickly into a format that turns childish.
The superficiality of the narrative structure and the different situations put forward do no honor to the genre they are trying to emulate. Rather than offering a nostalgic experience worthy of a genre that forged the pop culture of the 90s and 2000s, we are treated to a compendium of more or less embarrassing situations that take us too easily out of the story. As a result, the heroic dimension of the series finds itself partially erased and it becomes difficult to hold on to story arcs that the series tries to set up.
A (too) wide universe
Ultimately, Miss Marvel becomes the first victim of this colossal and unstoppable machine that is the MCU. By dint ofchain projects constantly, more and more weaknesses appear in the works in question. Although very likable, Moon Knight ultimately suffered from uneven pacing, and it sure looks like Miss Marvel is going down the same path.
But more than scriptwriting concerns, the series is also struggling on the special effects side. It’s impossible to know if it’s a limited budget or a burnout of the VFX teams at Marvel Studios, but the visual continuity in this new project sometimes leaves something to be desired. Where the effects in the sets are original and well mastered, Kamala’s powers and their crystallized effects come to take off the retina, but not in a good way. After the recent trailer for she hulk letting appear synthetic images at the limit of acceptable for our time, it is to wonder what is happening behind the scenes of Marvel in the special effects department.
Other than visually, the powers of the new heroine also suffered froma complete overhaul to anchor itself within the guidelines of the MCU. The universe in which the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe plunge us to its limits, and by dint of pushing them back, inconsistencies and obstacles are felt. This isn’t the first time the studio has had to drastically alter one of its characters to make it appear in the Expanded Universe. The problem is that the symbiosis between the character of Kamala and his powers is an essential element in the comics as to his development.
Her powers then help her grow and discover more about her identity. However, the beginnings of the powers of the MCU version of Kamala seem quite different and the depth of the character is likely to toast. While Marvel can’t be faulted for deviating from the paper character, when a character’s identity is so important both from a portrayal and personal development standpoint, such a drift from the original material is a pity. We will have to wait a few more episodes to find out if Iman Velani’s Kamala Khan manages to honor the comics of which the actress herself is a big fan.
In the end, the first episodes of Miss Marvel leave us wary. The balance between heroic introduction and slice of high school life is not mastered and both genres suffer. However, the freshness of the format remains to be underlined after years of redundancy at Marvel. The foundations aren’t shaky, and the series could turn out to be a real surprise if the mythology behind Kamala’s powers turns out to be cleverly constructed.
Find Miss Marvel on Disney+