Wednesday, June 8, 2022

REVIEW: 'Ms. Marvel' - Kamala Dreams of Wonderful Scenarios With Her Favorite Heroes and Best Friends in 'Generation Why'

Disney+'s Ms. Marvel - Episode 1.01 "Generation Why"

Kamala Khan attends AvengerCon only to discover that she herself might have superpowers.

"Generation Why" was written by Bisha K. Ali and directed by Adil & Bilall

Between this show and Hawkeye, the commodification of the Avengers has fiercely begun. The stories of Earth's mightiest heroes are known to the public. The details of events that played out in the movies are shared with those who often have to cope with the damage done to their world. A lot has happened in the decade plus since these heroics have begun. Of course, these stories extend far beyond that limited time frame. A new era was started when Tony Stark declared himself as Iron Man. And now, everyone has a favorite amongst the heroes. More importantly, their stories are known and shared throughout the world. Kamala Khan is obsessed with Captain Marvel. She views her as the most powerful Avenger. She single-handedly defeated Thanos in battle. She doesn't owe anyone an explanation for what she is doing off planet. She can simply be trusted to return to Earth when her home planet is in need. Her powers are stronger than her fellow heroes. She shares that protection throughout the galaxy. It's such a noble calling. One that is purely inspirational. Kamala doesn't know more about Captain Marvel than the average fan. Her world is still devoted to her. It's a distraction to everything else that should be important. Her loved ones try to get her to focus. They want her to aspire for her own future. They have certain expectations for her. None of them include the wondrous possibilities of powers. That's the fate laid out for Kamala anyway. It's truly unexpected and startling to her. She loves Captain Marvel. However, she also understands that the heroes who get to save the world don't look like her. Instead, she's relegated to being invisible at high school beyond a few close friends. Even her guidance counselor doesn't know the best way to inspire her to action. She doesn't align with the path culturally expected of her. The aunties in her community have their opinions. She thinks it's cool when someone follows an untraditional pursuit. To everyone else, it's nothing more than shame that comes down on the community overall. Of course, this adventure into a world of powers may only ground Kamala further into her culture. She gains these abilities not because something otherworldly happens to her. Instead, she simply opens a box from a relative and immediately falls in love with a bangle. That item unlocks a whole new world for her. It's one that connects her to her wildest dreams. It also has the potential of keeping her within the life of what she has always cherished. Right now, those two sides are in constant conflict. By the end of this season, that may no longer be the case.

Kamala views her mother as someone who doesn't trust her. Muneeba wishes to control every aspect of her daughter's life. She fundamentally believes she has raised a good girl. Her understanding of that concept is only true if Kamala stays loyal to her mother's rigid idea of acceptable behavior. It's a lot of pressure. Kamala doesn't feel like her family understands her. She has a supportive brother who will speak up on her behalf. She has a father who is always eager about a world of possibilities. However, they are always grounded in this family. Kamala sees herself as an outsider. She imagines a world where she too is playing out these elaborate fantasies. In her mind, it would be easy to sneak out of her house and jump off a bridge to catch a bus. Those are the stories she has been told are possible now. She aspires for those goals. The fantasy rarely matches up with reality. She doesn't know what's actually possible for her. Bruno is a tremendous friend. He wants to help her win this costume contest at AvengerCon. They want to be fully enthralled by the celebration of heroes. Bruno doesn't go all out like Kamala. However, he champions her spirit. He wants to make her dreams a reality. He too fits into a rigid world of what's expected of him. As a teenager, he's just suppose to be thinking of the path ahead. That includes deciding which college to dream of attending one day. Kamala is told that should be important to her as well. She fails because she has much bigger things on her mind. That can make her frustrating because she's failing to engage with the world around her as it actually functions. That subjects her to ridicule by her classmates and even some teachers. She is only loved and accepted when she produces magical powers. She has no control over them. It all happens by accident. Kamala knew she would win this contest. That's not how her life changes in this moment. Instead, it's completely different. She is left all alone to experience it. She can't even grapple with it for a moment. She and Bruno have to quickly get her back home. Even then, her cover has been blown. This is not acceptable for Muneeba. Her behavior absolutely seems conditioned from knowing the peril this bangle can put people in. She hopes to shield Kamala from that world of heroics. She simply does so by deciding what's best for her daughter. She's not allowing any of Kamala's own agency to play a factor. That's devastating. Kamala has seen the world change before her. As such, the potential for her future isn't determined based on what expectations have been across the generations. She still has to respect the family she comes from even though so much more has suddenly become possible for her. That places a target on her as well.