Kamala Khan’s debut show “Ms. Marvel” is a roller-coaster of content. From fighting bad guys after school to time traveling, the characters in the show definitely keep the audience interested. The show is about a teenage girl named Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani, who obtains the power to control crystalized energy through a bangle left to her by her great-grandmother. She does, however, face conflict when she is approached by a group of people who seem to know a lot about the source of her powers and her past, and by Damage Control, a secret government organization dedicated to preventing superhero-related incidents. The show is light-hearted and very energetic, but “Ms. Marvel” is not without flaws, as many of its downfalls and oversights leave certain scenes unfulfilling and just plain dull. Please note that this article will offer spoilers for “Ms. Marvel,” so please read at your own risk.
Bad Bad Guys
It’s no doubt that Marvel has some of the greatest supervillains of all time. From lovable gods searching for approval to philosophical titans set on killing half of the universe, Marvel villains rarely miss. “Ms. Marvel,” however, is the exception.
There are really two bad guys shown in “Ms. Marvel”: Damage Control and a group called the Clandestines. The Clandestines are inter-dimensional beings who harness the power of the Noor, which is the energy source of their world. The Clandestines Kamala meets, however, have been exiled from their home and need Kamala’s help to take them back home. They want to use her power to open a portal between their world and Kamala’s so that they can cross over. The Clandestines are also revealed to be the mysterious djinn, who are said to be very powerful and fearsome beings. However, after watching the Clandestines in the show, it’s fair to question why they were so feared.
When we first meet the Clandestines in Episode 3, they approach Kamala with kindness and explain her connection to them and how she can help them. However, later in the episode, we see that they do not have Kamala’s best interests at heart, and they will make her help them despite Kamala’s reservations. This is revealed after their leader catches her son Kamran (played by Rish Shah) telling Kamala that it is okay for her to take her time in deciding. This triggers the leader to make a very impulsive call to kidnap Kamala during a wedding, which seems very odd since she comes across as a more manipulative and strategic villain rather than one who would jump to action without thinking.
Additionally, the Clandestines are set up to be intense, ruthless and somewhat overpowering, but their actions in some scenes seem to fall short of this goal. For example, in one scene, they are being taken to a high-security prison by Damage Control, and they break out of their chains using the leader’s headpiece, which you’d think would’ve been taken from her the moment they entered the prison. They also manage to hold their own against the guards by doing next to nothing. They are given ample time to steal the keys to their shackles and escape while literally being watched by an armed guard. This fails to make the group look intense and just leaves the scene feeling sloppy.
The problems with the Clandestines continue. Because of their exile, they have little to no connection to the Noor and therefore have no superhuman abilities other than the powers to throw a punch and stop aging. But nothing about these villains is scary. Why are they made out to be powerful and terrifying creatures in legend when the best thing they’ve got going for them is a mean punch?
In the comic books, the Clandestines are portrayed a bit differently. In the book “Clandestine” (1994), it is revealed that the Clandestines are not beings from another universe but are actually born from the powers of the djinn, and they all have unique abilities that make them terrifying to non-Clandestines. While “Ms. Marvel” does explain why its Clandestines do not have extraordinary abilities, it is a shame that we didn’t get to see some form of the terrifyingly powerful beings in the comic books.
What if, like Kamala, the Clandestines could use their limited access to the Noor to harness special powers or weapons? However, these powers cannot be used for long, as they take a physical toll on the Clandestines by weakening their body. This could be portrayed by the darkening and cracking of their skin while the powers are in use. In addition to this, they are unable to age and can quickly heal any wounds caused in battle, which would have made for very interesting fight scenes. Another way to make the Clandestines scarier would have been to give them a second form. Maybe they have to disguise themselves as humans and hide their true, terrifying form, and Kamala would be exempt from having such a form because she is not a full-blooded Clandestine.
But sadly, this is not what we are given. Instead, the Clandestines in “Ms. Marvel” are dull and just disappointing.
Plot Holes in “Ms. Marvel”
Another thing that went wrong for “Ms. Marvel” were the plot holes. There were many aspects of the show that left viewers feeling very confused, and much of it was never explained. For example, in Episode 5, we see that the Clandestines are finally able to open the portal. Yet, we do not learn how or why they are able to open it; they seem to just magically obtain this ability.
However, the portal turns out to be deadly to the Clandestines as they attempt to cross over, and after an emotional talk with Kamala, the leader decides to sacrifice herself for the sake of her son, Kamran. She sends him energy from the portal, which somehow gives him the same abilities as Kamala. But how is this possible? How was she able to give him powers, and what made the portal close? It doesn’t make sense, and, unfortunately, it is never explained.
After receiving his new powers, Kamran complains about feeling like he is being crushed from the inside, but we never get to truly see the side effects of receiving those powers. He is simply given a pep talk about being different and is then sent on his way, leaving us all wondering: “What did we just watch?”
Another confusing factor is the origin of the bangle and Kamala’s powers. At first, the bangle is assumed to be the source of Kamala’s powers. However, during the final scene of Episode 6, we learn that she actually has a mutation in her genes that powers her abilities. So, what is the purpose of the bangle?
Additionally, the origin of the bangle is never truly revealed, leaving much to speculation and confusion. All that is revealed about the bangle is that it was found by the Clandestines on a severed blue arm, it can manipulate energies and two of them exist. More than likely, these questions will all be answered in Ms. Marvel’s big screen debut “The Marvels,” which is set to air in 2023. However, for the sake of the show, a little bit of explanation — or even a hint — would have gone a long way.
Youthful Energy of “Ms. Marvel”
One thing that “Ms. Marvel” does right is the tone. Throughout the show, “Ms. Marvel” maintains a youthful energy and delivers a charm that is similar to other coming-of-age films. This cannot be seen any clearer than during the school scene in the final episode. In this scene, Kamala and her friends are hiding from Damage Control in the empty school building. The crew devises an elaborate plan to keep Damage Control distracted while they get Kamala and Kamran, who has just developed powers, out of the school. When Damage Control finally breaches the high school doors, things get crazy.
The team has set up a variety of traps, including ball guns and a giant foam trap in the science room, all of which successfully keep Damage Control occupied in an energetic, “Home Alone” style goose-chase. This scene screams youthful energy; nothing is more appealing to the younger generation than coming up with creative ways to drive grownups crazy. This same energy is carried on throughout the episode and leaves our innermost child feeling happy.
“Ms. Marvel” is a fun show to watch. It appeals to a younger generation with its jokes, quirky characters and fantastical adventures. The show does have a lot to offer in that department, and it’s quite entertaining. However, for others, the show may come across as lazy and possibly a bit confusing, as the show fails to present certain aspects in an interesting or even understandable way. At the end of the day, not everyone is going to pick up on or even care about these flaws, and whether or not you will enjoy the show depends on how you watch television.