Ms Marvel is a spin-off of sorts of Captain Marvel. It's about a young up and coming superhero who costumes herself after her own hero - only she lacks the confidence to be a branded hero in her own right, adopting the moniker Ms Marvel. And while that's a bit cute and fun, there's something about so pointedly taking on the title 'Ms' that feels so very 1970s.
The 1970s feel especially key to this series. It's not that the show is set in the 70s - far from it. This is a world where our hero, the titular Ms Marvel, is texting her best friend, characters are using Alexa-like devices in the home, and there is the bristling between the familial expectations placed on teenage gonna-be-superhero Kamala Khan vs where she sees a place for herself as she nears adulthood. But there's something that feels so very 1970s Spider-Man about this TV show.
Visually, the show owes a huge debt to the recent Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse animated film, with special effects used to heighten small moments along with text elements interwoven into the live-action backgrounds. But like 1970s Spider-Guy, this is a tangible, highly relatable teenaged superhero where themes of power and responsibility loom large. This is as grounded a hero as you're going to get from a Marvel TV show and it plays an absolute treat.
A lot will be written about how this show represents the first Muslim Marvel superhero to get her own show and how important that is for representation, yadda, yadda. And that's certainly true. But what is far more compelling is that the show gets away with something that very few superhero shows and movies have: it keeps the world of Ms Marvel feel very small and grounded. It is relatable in a way none of the rest of them are. Actor Iman Vellani has a great authenticity as Kamala Khan. She's not too adorable and she's not too spunky - she feels every bit on screen the gross and unpleasant teenager who is just kind of annoying to surrounding adults at this stage in life. And when superheroics are introduced to her world, it isn't though meeting up with Captain America or Thor, it is because she wants to cosplay as Captain Marvel at an Avengers fan convention where she accidentally unleashes some actual powers she has.
It's actually a bit of a shame that Kahn even gets super powers. There's something so engaging about watching this girl just getting by in life, lost in her own thoughts and disappointing her disapproving mother at every turn.
With Ms Marvel, you won't believe that a superhero can fly. But you will believe that a superhero can have a real short attention span and be able to cut together a video for YouTube. And, real talk: that's actually a far more impressive feat.
Ms Marvel is streaming now at Disney+ with new episodes released weekly.