Ms. Marvel Episode 2 finds Kamala Khan adjusting to her mysterious new powers, and a crush as the teen gets her first true taste of being a young superhero.
Hello again, Jersey City and Kamala Khan! Ms. Marvel got off to a very promising start in Episode 1, led by the charm of Iman Vellani as the title character. The beginnings of Kamala’s story had a very coming-of-age vibe, mirroring her first solo comic run in 2014. This newest Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series looked and felt different, in the same way that WandaVision (2021) was quite unique when it first premiered.
I’m thrilled to report that the uniqueness that Ms. Marvel displayed in the first episode does carry over to Episode 2, “Crushed”. Writer Kate Gritmon takes elements from the Ms. Marvel’s first solo comic arc, “No Normal,” and gives them a fresh MCU spin in this episode. Gritman also manages to give each character some growth in this episode, while also continuing to build on the things that worked last week. The coming-of-age feel is very much still in play, as is Kamala’s ongoing struggle with her Muslim faith and strict parents. Episode 2 throws the title character’s newfound superpowers further into the mix, and Gritman is able to balance all of these parts of Kamala’s story.
In Ms. Marvel Episode 2, Kamala (Iman Vellani) has a newfound confidence and is beginning to learn how to control her new powers with the help of her best friend, Bruno (Matt Lintz). The duo also attempts to figure out where exactly Kamala’s powers are coming from. Both her confidence and journey to discover the origins of her powers might just give the young hero more than she bargained for.
From its opening of Kamala strutting confidently through the hallway (a stark contrast to her sheepish nature in the hallway during Episode 1) until the very end, the story has a wonderful and fun flow that never snags. Each plot point of Episode 2 is well defined, interesting and continues the narrative that began last week perfectly. All of our main characters get something to do in this episode that helps move them and the overarching story forward. For example, we get to see a lot more of Kamala’s other good friend Nakia Bahadir (Yasmeen Fletcher) through a subplot that also ties back to Kamala’s struggle with her Muslim faith. The characters around our protagonist grow while also tying back to Kamala and the larger themes at play.
Well, I should say that most of the characters grow, since Zoe Zimmer (Laurel Marsden) doesn’t exactly develop in a noticeable way. Being a comic book reader, I can say that it’s kind of because the writers of Ms. Marvel have adjusted the story at little bit. Episode 2 sees Zoe remain this sort of frenemy to Kamala and that’s it. The biggest thing she does in the episode is throw a party and while she helps move things in the grand scheme forward in more ways than one, we don’t learn any more about her as a character.
Kamala continues to feel like more of a real teenager than anyone else ever has in the MCU. In fact, the plot of Episode 2 has her deal with problems that your typical teen would deal with, such as her first big high school crush. Said crush is Kamran (Rish Shah), a new British-Pakistani senior who offers to help Kamala with her driving. Kamaran’s origin has been tweaked a bit from the comics, in which he is a childhood friend of Kamala’s who has moved back to Jersey City from Texas. This change isn’t one that I mind though, because he is able to help further several parts of Kamala’s story in Ms. Marvel this way. Not to mention, it’s pretty interesting seeing Kamala interact with a Pakistani teen guy as opposed to Bruno. Not that I dislike Bruno, but Kamran brings out a different side of Kamala that we as an audience haven’t seen. Another of her real teen problems has to do with Nakia’s side plot, which also manages to tie into Kamala’s struggle with her faith. I love how Gritman managed to make that work and further the journeys of Nakia and Kamala while adding to one of the central themes of the series.
My personal favorite Kamala moment of the episode made me exclaim that she was acting just as I would have, as a teenager (and maybe even now). The teenage authenticity of Kamala Khan is just bursting from the screen and it’s such a joy to watch.
You have all these developments with Kamala and the side characters that tie into the larger themes of Ms. Marvel and the crazy thing is, most of them have little to do with her powers. Okay, some of Bruno’s plot is kind of tied to Kamala’s powers, but not all. Instead, these powers and the mystery behind them get a good bit of focus as Kamala and Bruno train and try to discover where they’ve come from. Said powers also tie into the larger narratives, which is one of the keys to Kamala’s origin. Her powers help her discover who she is and who she is meant to be in the comics, going hand in hand with the coming-of-age aspect of the narrative. We have an idea of who Kamala Khan is as a person, and now we get to watch her grow and see how these powers impact the life of an ordinary girl from Jersey City.
Her powers also introduce a larger mystery, albeit a different one than in the comics. I’m very invested in seeing what her new powers are and where they come from. This is because Episode 2 does a tremendous job of showing off some of the things that Kamala can do and can’t do. She’s got some pretty cool powers, even if they aren’t exactly like her comic book powers which involve her stretching her body in the vein of Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. Kamala and Bruno are also as clueless as the audience, which will make the unraveling of the mystery that much more satisfying because they aren’t one step ahead of us. You also get the feeling from Episode 2 that Ms. Marvel will make the origins of Kamala’s powers just as important to her journey as they were in the comics. It seems to me like everyone involved with telling this story understands who Kamala Khan is, what the important parts of her journey are, and have set out to tell her story as closely as they can, with some adjustments for the MCU.
Iman Vellani is still a delightful Kamala but I want to give praise to Yasmeen Fletcher for her work in Episode 2 as Nakia Bahadir. The character of Nakia is just as complex as Kamala and Fletcher does a great job of bringing her to life. She displays the passion that Nakia needs to have and really sells the emotional moment that the character has with Kamala.
Episode 2 of Ms. Marvel is marvelous, telling a beautifully woven story with several plots and characters. The show continues to stand out in all of the best ways, and the line between Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan is becoming even more blurry, because she embodies the character so well. We’re also left with several interesting cliffhangers that I cannot wait to see resolved in the coming weeks!
Ms Marvel ‘s Episode 2 is now available to watch on Disney Plus.