Ms. Marvel’s second episode, ‘Crushed’, is in the books and gives us many more reasons to love Marvel’s latest superhero romp. In its imperfections, Ms. Marvel manages to maintain its charm in truly delightful ways. Iman Vellani continues to prove exactly why she’s who we need to lead us into Marvel’s next phase.
The series does well to continue leaning into the teenage/high school angst. Ms. Marvel remains among the most accurate representation of this chaotic, awkward age range that Marvel has given fans to date. The dynamics, from the instant-love to the ride-or-die friendships, are so accurate to the wild ride that is being a teenager.
This episode also takes time to further incorporate Islam and faith into the characters who have already been introduced. Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher), in particular, gives voice to the journey that is being true to one’s faith regardless of the acceptance of others. Her quest to reconcile all aspects of her identity is a profoundly relatable one. Granted, the particular conversation probably would have actually happened earlier in this friendship, which we’re told is already well-established.
Nevertheless, Nakia is such a captivating character to cheer for, as she seeks justice for her fellow Muslim sisters by trying to get elected to the Mosque’s Board of Directors. This direct action to make a difference in her community is a worthy cause. Showing a young woman being so clearly engaged in bettering her community is nothing less than inspirational. In many ways, the endearing Muslim storylines woven seamlessly into this series makes me even sadder that we couldn’t get the same tribute to the beauty of Judaism in Moon Knight.
Again, the authenticity of the representation on this show should absolutely be left to the Pakistani Muslim community. This white author will say that the mention of the very real pain of The Partition, which is still felt by millions of families to this day, was heartbreaking. It’s also bittersweet to see Kamala told immediately that she doesn’t have to justify her use of the word “Ammi” and that her conversation partner already knows what it means. It’s validating, and yet devastating to think of how many times she’s been given blank, uncomprehending stares or downright derision for using this word.
I have to say, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the introduction of a potential love triangle, with Kamran (Rish Shah) and Bruno (Matt Lintz) vying for Kamala’s affections. Kamala and Bruno have been shown to have a perfectly adequate friendship. Although there’s certainly room for this story to develop, one has to wonder if this is the best one for these characters.
Finally, the weakest part of Ms. Marvel by far continues to be the actual superhero elements. While I personally count myself among the fans who are grateful that Marvel is expanding beyond the well-known formulaic storytelling, Ms. Marvel seems uniquely challenged to develop the superhero aspect of this character. This is meant to be an origin story, after all. I’m not sure the fake super-cops, just as racist as their real-life counterparts, are the best way to bring this character into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Ms. Marvel had my heart from the beginning, and the series’ second episode only furthered my love of these characters and this story. The stage has been set for this character to make a massive impact on a gargantuan franchise. Kamala Khan has already shown viewers that she’s more than up for the task.
New episodes of Ms. Marvel air Wednesdays on Disney+.