'Ms. Marvel' Episode 1 Recap: Meet Kamala Khan—and Her New Powers

Ms. Marvel Episode 1 is a low-key (not to be confused with Loki) beginning to Disney+'s new Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) show.

Marvel shows tend to have bigger stakes than "Generation Why," whose biggest drama sees Kamala Khan (played by Iman Vellani) sneaking out to go to a convention.

The Disney+ series' first episode, however, takes its time to set up Kamala's world: and ends with a post-credit scene that hints at the danger that she is going to face as the series goes on.

Ms. Marvel Episode 1 Recap

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Iman Vellani in "Ms. Marvel" Episode 1. The episode, titled "Generation Why," sees her gain powers from a magical bangle. Disney+

Superhero purists may complain that almost no superhero in the MCU has a secret identity, but it does give Marvel the opportunity to explore what a world populated with very public supers would be like.

Kamala Khan is a big part of that world.

She writes fan fiction about Captain Marvel—though as this is the very PG-13 MCU, not that kind of fan fiction. She listens to podcast featuring Ant-Man (not even superheroes can escape having to do podcasts). And most of all, she dreams of going to AvengerCon, if she can convince her parents to let her go.

In short, Ms. Marvel is the comic book company's tribute to all the fangirls out there, whose voices are often drowned out by a constant deluge of angry fanboys complaining on social media.

It is no coincidence that Kamala's favorite super is Captain Marvel, a character whose film was the subject of much misogynistic hate online.

The beginning of Ms. Marvel Episode 1 introduces the supporting cast, who at this point are pretty thinly-drawn stock characters. We meet Kamala's controlling mother Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), her slightly more relaxed dad Yusuf (Mohan Kapur) and her wisecracking sibling Aamir (Saagar Shaikh). Plus, her nerdy best friend Bruno (Matt Lintz).

The early minutes of the episode set up the character's life before her superhero origin story begins. Kamala is a little clumsy—she manages to fail her driving test by reversing her car into her driving instructor's car. And she lives in a fantasy world, signified by lots of Avengers-themed animation throughout the episode (directors Adil & Bilal throw in every piece of film-making pizzazz they learned from making Bad Boys For Life).

As reported in many outlets, Ms. Marvel is the MCU's first Muslim superhero, and Episode 1 really establishes Kamala's life as a young Pakistani-American. We watch as Kamala and her mother shop for Aamir's wedding in Jersey City's Pakistani neighbohood, and we hear snatches of Arabic and Urdu throughout.

Marvel's commitment to full representation here is sure to be meaningful to many—if only they could have the same commitment to certain other communities underrepresented in the MCU...

Throughout the episode, Kamala is building up the courage to ask her parents to go to AvengerCon which, for some reason, seems only to be on at night (the MCU is a foreign universe, they do things differently there).

First, her parents refuse, but then they agree if Kamala agrees to go to the convention with her dad: in matching homemade Hulk outfits (credit to the costume designer for some of the best onscreen homemade costumes this side of Lisa Simpson's Florida ensemble).

Kamala, however, has been working on a Captain Marvel outfit for weeks (if the whole superhero lark does not work out, she would make a great seamstress). So she refuses to go with her father, and concocts a foolproof plan to sneak out of her house to go to the convention.

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Still from "Ms. Marvel" Episode 1. Kamala is not a fan of her parents' Hulk costumes. Disney+

The convention is nearly upon her, and her costume is not quite right, so she goes into the attic to find something that represents her heritage to go with the outfit. Looking in a chest, she finds a bangle that belonged to her grandmother.

She does not know it yet, but this is a superpowered bangle.

Because of course it is: as we know from watching Shang-Chi, namely that any remotely old-looking bracelet in the MCU probably has some sort of hidden abilities. For now, however, she cannot get it on.

Convention day comes, and Bruno and Kamala make it to AvengerCon mostly intact, though the latter loses her bike on the journey. Just before the Captain Marvel cosplay competition begins, Kamala gets the bangle on, and wouldn't you know it, it has magical powers!

What those powers are, however, is left pretty vague. Per an interview from TV Line with Ms. Marvel Episode 1 co-director Adil El Erbi, it was described as "hard light" in the script. On screen, it is yet another super with the ability to shoot colored beams out of their hands. Directors love colored beam powers because they think they look visually striking, but we are really at a point where they have been used to death in superhero cinema.

Why couldn't she have the body-morphing powers she has in the comics? El Arbi told TVLine, "producers were also looking for her place in the wider MCU, connected with other movies and potentially other TV shows."

To paraphrase, they are saving the body-stretching for Reed Richards in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie.

Kamala's powers may feel weightless and indistinct to us as viewers, but they do plenty of damage at AvengerCon. Kamala, meanwhile, has also done damage to her relationship with her mother, who is not happy that she crept out to attend the convention.

Muneeba asks her straight out if she wants to live in the real-world or in a cosmic fantasy land, and seeing as this is a TV show about a young woman with a magic bracelet, we already know the answer to that.

Ms. Marvel Episode 1 is mostly origin story, with the nearest thing to a villain in the main episode being Kamala's well-meaning mother. That starts to change, however, with a post-credit scene that sees Fig from Orange is the New Black and Inventing Anna's lawyer playing government agents who are watching a video of Kamala's powers at AvengerCon, and want to bring her in for questioning.

Exactly what that involves will be revealed when Episode 2 airs on June 15.

Ms. Marvel airs Wednesdays on Disney+.