Ms. Marvel mixes superhero origin with coming-of-age

Disney+’s Ms. Marvel shows its lead character, Kamala Khan, dealing with two realities simultaneously. In one corner, she accidentally activated new superhero abilities with the help of an old family bracelet. On the other, Kamala is still a teenager trying to get through the day.

Ms. Marvel is a younger approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following a similar path as Peter Parker or Kate Bishop. However, the story begins simply enough. Kamala, and her best friend Bruno, want to go to AvengerCon to celebrate Earth’s Mightiest Heros, while Kamala wants to win the Captain Marvel costume contest.

Like Peter and Kate, Kamala loves the Avengers, looks up to them, and is pretty obsessed with their adventures. So, when Kamala’s bracelet accidentally triggers her to release incredible powers, Kamala is both awed and excited.

Kamala and Bruno move forward, testing the limits of Kamala’s abilities and suggesting that Kamala’s powers, while enhanced by the bracelet, are not coming from the bracelet itself.

Ms. Marvel makes its connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe evident and direct, so its identity as a superhero origin story comes across with Kamala suggesting which Avenger her powers are most similar to, such as Thor or the Guardians of the Galaxy.

However, while Ms. Marvel is an origin story, it also acts as a coming-of-age story. Kamala faces drama with her family as her mother’s wish for Kamala’s future contradicts who Kamala wants to be as an adult.

There are expectations placed on Kamala that she does not want nor knows how to deal with without directly harming her parents. Kamala wishes for her own identity, not to follow exactly what her parents envisioned for her. When stripping away the superhero aspect, Kamala is a teenage girl searching for her place in the world and how it corresponds with what is expected of her.

Kamala and Bruno are also facing other trials and tribulations of growing up, such as what Kamala’s new powers mean for their friendship and potential crushes.

Ms. Marvel breathes new life into the franchise by continuing to create young characters excited by the prospect of helping to change the world for the better. However, Kamala still has a lot to learn, and the potential pressure or burden of what it means to have power may not have quite hit her yet.

Kamala seems to want to make a positive difference. But, Ms. Marvel also does not make her a perfect hero immediately. She is still a teenager figuring out how to use her powers, and that bracelet appears to come with more secrets than she realized.

Still, Kamala’s journey to becoming a superhero is a welcome addition to the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe.