Depending on who you ask, Marvel’s Phase 4 has either been directionless, the best phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or simply “meh.” If you ask me, there are two things happening simultaneously. Some are gatekeeping the franchise’s massive list of shortcomings by using the excuse of its mainstream popularity. Whereas others are slowly but steadily coming to the realization that Marvel movies used to have a voice, which they lost in its attempt to appeal to everyone. And now Kevin Feige and co. are trying really hard to find a balance between pleasing every single person watching their products, maintaining the flow of 5-6 releases per year, and making something that’s artistic. That brings us to the latest mini-series in the line, “Ms. Marvel.”
Kamala Khan’s Plans To Attend AvengerCon
Directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and created by Bisha K. Ali, “Ms. Marvel” Episode 1 starts off with Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) making a hand-crafted, stop-motion video of Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) contribution to defeating Thanos (Josh Brolin). It’s a simplistic yet stunning display of craft (kudos to the animators) and a hint at the tone of the mini-series going forward. Then, in an equally brilliant one-take shot, Kamala’s family is introduced to us. There’s Kamala’s mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), Kamala’s father, Yusuf (Mohan Kapur), and Kamala’s elder brother Aamir (Saagar Shaikh). All of them wish Kamala the best as she goes to attend the final test for her driver’s license.
Things go horribly bad at the said test as Kamala crashes into her driving instructor’s (played by Randy Havens) car. Yusuf and Muneeba immediately come to Kamala’s rescue and reprimand the driving instructor for not teaching Kamala properly (like any South Asian parent would). Kamala goes to school, and it seems she isn’t the most famous person there because everyone keeps giving her weird looks. She has two friends, though: Bruno Carrelli (Matt Lintz) and Nakia Bahadir (Yasmeen Fletcher). They talk about attending AvengerCon, the final flourish that’s required for Kamala’s Captain Marvel costume to look amazing, and asking Kamala’s bully, Zoe (Laurel Marsden), for a ride to the AvengerCon now that Kamala has failed her driving test.
That conversation is interrupted by Kamala’s class teacher (or the school principal, it’s not very clear), who gives Kamala a long speech about finding purpose and knowing what she wants to be in the future, while Kamala keeps drifting in and out of her daydreams. And although she’s told to not fantasize too much and be rooted in reality, she keeps planning how to get into the first-ever AvengerCon. Bruno comes up with the simple and, hence, impossible idea of Kamala asking her mother to let her go to AvengerCon. Kamala rubbishes that idea because getting permission from your South Asian parents to do something you want to do is unachievable.
On their way back home, Kamala and Bruno talk about giving her costume a zombie, an Asgardian, an Iron Man, a Black Panther, a Doctor Strange, or a princess-themed touch. Kamala’s mother arrives with a box of her Nani’s (maternal grandmother) belongings. She finds a bangle in it. But when Kamala asks about it to her mother, she hands it over to Aamir and tells him to put it in the attic, while ordering Kamala to assist her in Aamir’s wedding shopping. And we see a hint of internal misogyny in South Asian families as Kamala’s mother and a woman from the community speak ill of a girl who chose to travel the world instead of getting married.
Back in the Khan household, Bruno installs an AI system called Zuzu that’ll allow Yusuf to handle everything in the house remotely. Yusuf is visibly excited about it. Kamala and her mother return home, and Bruno urges Kamala to utilize her parents’ positive vibes to get their permission to go to AvengerCon. On Bruno’s way out, Muneeba packs a whole lot of food for him. When Bruno questions her speed with the food, she says it’s a mom thing. After mustering up a lot of courage, Kamala finally asks her parents if she can go to AvengerCon. And they immediately shut her down with all kinds of conservative excuses, ranging from skimpy clothes to underage drinking and romance. Kamala, upset and angry, points out that if Aamir had requested the same thing from them, they would have agreed.
Kamala Khan Reaches AvengerCon At The Nick Of Time
Although some of Kamala’s anger at her parents is directed towards her brother, Aamir assures Kamala that he’s going to use his male privilege to convince their parents to let her go to AvengerCon. Kamala texts Bruno (which is amazingly visualized via the signs on the streets and walls and the signboards) about the failure of their plan. The following day, Kamala’s mother almost catches her in her Captain Marvel suit. But Kamala quickly hides it before facing the horrible truth: she can go to AvengerCon if she goes as the Little Hulk (green painted face, green kameez, and purple salwar) along with her father dressed as Big Hulk (same costume and make-up design). Kamala calls it out for being cringe-worthy, which hurts her father and her mother, and they revert to their original position, i.e., Kamala can’t go to AvengerCon.
Kamala meets up with Bruno to discuss the fallout of her words. Seeing Kamala lose hope in herself and her enthusiasm about embodying Captain Marvel, Bruno reveals what he has been working on. Yes, photon gloves that light up to mimic Captain Marvel’s superpowered punches. They have a light-hearted moment as they play-fight with each other. But before day zero, reality strikes Kamala harder than usual as she gets bullied by Zoe, faces body image issues (because she’s always supposed to cover herself up), and her parents appear visibly pissed. That said, when Zuzu (the AI) starts to malfunction, Kamala experiences a light-bulb moment. She says that if she can’t leave for AvengerCon by leaving the house, she has to do the same without leaving the house.
The following day, Kamala lays out the plan in front of Bruno. According to her, at 5:49 PM, she is going to make up some excuse and be done with dinner a little early. At 5:55 PM, she is going to suit up, jump out of the house like a superhero, and cycle her way to the bus stand along with Bruno (dressed as Tony Stark). Bruno asks what if Kamala’s parents come in to check on her and find out that she’s gone. Kamala says that’s where Bruno and Zuzu come in, as they’ll keep a watch on her parents and keep them out of her bedroom until she returns. Kamala returns to her fantasy plan where she and Bruno jump on the roof of the bus (while riding their bicycles) that’ll take them to AvengerCon. There they’ll have the time of their lives and return home by 9:22 PM so that her father doesn’t catch her out of bed.
Before doing all this, though, Bruno gives Kamala one piece of advice, and that is to find her “flourish” and, if possible, connect it to her Pakistani heritage. Unaware of the bangle’s origins, Kamala seeks it out and plans to make it a part of her ensemble. On day zero, things don’t go according to plan as Kamala takes a massive tumble while escaping her house. They almost miss the bus, and while loading her cycle into the bus, the doors close on her, causing Kamala to leave it lying on the streets, ready to be stolen. But, all the odds are still against them because they have to get back home on time. Kamala and Bruno arrive on time. They collect all kinds of merchandise, pose with huge sculptures of Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), and finally arrive at the Captain Marvel section.
‘Ms. Marvel’ Episode 1: Ending Explained – Kamala Khan Realizes She Is A Superhero Now
After checking on her parents and realizing that she’s up against Zoe dressed as Captain Marvel, too, Kamala rushes to the bathroom to change because the Captain Marvel competition is about to begin. She fails to put on the bangle and accidentally leaves the glowing gloves that Bruno made for Kamala in the bathroom. Bruno looks a little offended, but he urges Kamala to put on the bangle and complete her look. Kamala finally unlocks the seal of the bangle, and as soon as she puts it on, a surge of energy flows through her body. Not just that, she briefly travels to a different dimension where a crowd of people (or creatures) with glowing eyes are seen standing around her. She returns to the AvengerCon and even asks Bruno if he noticed all that, and he says that he hadn’t and pushes Kamala towards the stage.
After getting up there, the camera flashes, and the loud cheering of the fans trigger some kind of panic attack, causing Kamala to freak out a little. That’s when she accidentally activates the bangle’s powers, which leads to a bizarre chain of events that almost kills Zoe. Thankfully, Kamala saves her while Bruno pulls her out of there before anyone notices that she has superpowers. Kamala swears Bruno to secrecy so that he doesn’t reveal all this to anyone. Kamala’s mother finds out about her trip to AvengerCon, and she scolds Kamala for her misbehavior. Kamala isn’t too bothered about it, though, because she has superpowers now. During “Ms. Marvel” Episode 1 mid-credits scene, we see the police officer who detained Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in “Spider-Man – No Way Home” coming across the footage of Kamala using her powers at AvengerCon and planning to bring her in.