After the triumphant first episode of Ms. Marvel, the series is back for its second installment. It brings most of the same shine and quirkiness, but it competes with a deeper, darker narrative as well as classic Marvel Cinematic Universe storytelling. It is still a bit too soon to figure out what exactly Ms. Marvel’s ultimate tone will be, but Episode 2 proves it has the potential to be just about anything. A coming-of-age comedy, a superhero origin story, or an emotional mystery—all of those elements can be easily teased out of this episode.
While the series’ premiere felt emphatically unique, the second episode’s venture into more rigorous superhero territory fairly brings up concerns as to whether Ms. Marvel might eventually suffer from being “too MCU.” After all, Kamala Khan is directly connected to other heroes in the universe, and there is no denying that she will make her way into a variety of future projects. Episode 2 undoubtedly took on more conventional superhero or superpower-type tropes, though no one would expect the series not to feel like part of the universe. Still, the personality of Episode 1 felt slightly diluted in this episode, which may be something to keep an eye on as the series continues.
The second episode aptly showcases a couple of dualities. The layers to Kamala’s story not only reflect the nuance of her character but also the complexity of the story being told. It is easy to pick out the fact that she now has two identities—“Night Light” and Kamala—but it goes further.
On one hand, Kamala is a regular teenager with concerns such as crushes and parties. In regard to that part of Kamala, Episode 2 featured lighter subplots and more trivial (but genuine concerns). On the other hand, she is gradually getting engulfed in a clearly darker narrative surrounding her newfound powers and her family history. There is almost an awkward tension between the two levels of Ms. Marvel, though given the awkwardness of teenage years perhaps that is the point.
While Kamala’s superhero tale unfolds, it is looking like the future Ms. Marvel will be facing two major adversaries as well. Obviously, the Department of Damage Control has made a strong racist and xenophobic entrance as a comic book DIY United States Homeland Security. Her escape from them and their drones at the end of Episode 2 cements their role as ongoing foes, but signs are pointing elsewhere for the true threat of Ms. Marvel. With nothing but some visions and an ominous final scene, Kamran’s mother is already radiating big bad energy. Kamran himself is a villain in the comics, so there is little reason to think that Kamala has not encountered her match for the series in him and his family. Given the strong familial themes of both the live-action series and Ms. Marvel comics, there is a good chance Kamala might see these new faces as trustworthy before the truth comes crashing down.
The second episode of Ms. Marvel proves that the series did not peak in its first episode. While concessions may be made to support the ever-present greater MCU (both in front of and behind the camera), Kamala still outshines most freshman heroes across the board. Not only that, but the series is doing something that virtually no comic book adaptations can actually do: make it all a mystery. Because Kamala’s powers and origins have seemingly been overhauled from the comics, casual and hardcore fans alike have no idea what to expect with the revelation of her backstory. To keep all audiences on the edges of their seats in the MCU is not an easy feat, and it might be another reason Ms. Marvel ends up as one of the most successful Marvel Studios projects.
The first two episodes of Ms. Marvel are now streaming on Disney+.