Just when you thought superhero movies and TV shows couldn’t possibly offer anything new, along came Ms. Marvel.
You may have initially shrugged off the Marvel show as just another superhero series, what with Stranger Things, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Top Gun: Maverick offering something different.
But Ms. Marvel appears to be the exception to the rule – a breath of fresh air in an otherwise tired genre.
And with critics raving over the show, it’s bound to attract more viewers.
So, who is Ms. Marvel?
The six-episode Disney+ series stars newcomer Iman Vellani as Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim superhero.
In some ways, Kamala is your average teenager – bored with school and making heart eyes at the local heartthrob – but she also fills her time drawing fan art of the Avengers, writing fan fiction and dressing up as her ultimate hero, Captain Marvel.
Kamala is, like many people out there, a diehard superhero fan. And then she becomes one herself.
“It’s not really the brown girls from Jersey City who save the world,” Kamala says in the trailer … before she finds a magical bangle that gives her “cosmic” powers.
Ms. Marvel, the comics, debuted in 2014, presenting a superhero who can alter her size and appearance.
Kamala’s powers in the show are a little different, however. As well as body-shifting abilities, she can also shoot crystal-like formations out of her hands.
The role marks 19-year-old Vellani’s TV debut and her first role as the lead. Plus, she’s set to make her feature film debut with The Marvels in 2023.
Lots of Marvel getting about … in more ways than one.
The Pakistani-Canadian is actually a massive fan of Ms. Marvel, having once dressed up as the superhero for Halloween.
“I was a huge Marvel fan in high school,” Vellani told Canadian magazine Maclean’s.
“My school was right across from a comic book shop. I’d often go there to read the Invincible Iron Man comics. I came across an Iron Man comic that had Kamala Khan on the cover. I was like, ‘Oh my God, who is this brown person?’ I just fell in love with her.”
What are the critics saying?
“Refreshing”, “joyous” and “charming” are just some of the words being used to describe the first two episodes that were made available to reviewers.
The first episode premiered to the public on June 8.
So far, Ms. Marvel has a critic rating of 95 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, a higher score than its sister shows, such as Loki (92 per cent), WandaVision (91 per cent) and animated series What If…? (94 per cent).
“Only two episodes have been released for review, but they are glorious,” wrote The Guardian, which gave the series five stars.
“Instant stardom awaits the new girl in the Marvel universe. She’s funny, charming and effortlessly bats off preconceptions in this joyful coming-of-age tale. Let the geek girls inherit the Earth!”
Empire gave the series four stars, describing the show’s opening act as “frothy and fun” and a “compelling and unique addition to the MCU”, with “well-rounded, warmly funny, instantly likeable characters”.
Other critics praised the series for its representation, noting that it did not feel forced.
“Kamala’s journey so far is a heart-warming tale that gives you a personal glimpse into a lesser-known culture, and breaks the many warped, pre-conceived notions of it,” Slash Film wrote in its review.
“Ms Marvel is unapologetically Muslim; it is written by a Muslim writer for everyone who loves a good superhero story, but especially those who belong to the Muslim community.”
Ms Marvel was created for television by head writer Bisha K. Ali, a British-Pakistani screenwriter and comedian.
And the fans?
On Twitter, the premiere episode of Ms. Marvel has inspired tweets of praise and excitement for what’s to come.
“Iman Vellani is the absolute PERFECT Kamala Khan, I’m so in love with her,” one fan tweeted.
“Episode 1 of Ms. Marvel might just be one of the most CREATIVE forms of media that Marvel Studios has ever released,” another fan tweeted.
“It feels like Spider-Man Homecoming & Scott Pilgram vs. the World had a kid, in the BEST way! It’s fun, eye-catching and overall a great time.”
Others especially liked how youthful the show felt as a coming-of-age series – something different compared to the other adventures in the MCU.
And for Muslin Marvel fans, watching the series has been nothing short of a delightful experience.
Although the show is very obviously set in the Marvel universe, one does not need to watch every past film or series to know what’s going on.
In other words, it’s a great starting point for new fans.
New episodes of Ms. Marvel release Wednesdays on Disney+.