‘Ms. Marvel’ Is A Reminder That Origin Stories Can Be Fun
It’s no secret that pop-culture audiences have tired of superhero origin stories these days – probably because you could fill a friggin’ cemetery with the corpses of all the cinematic Uncle Bens and Thomas and Martha Waynes whose tragic deaths we’ve been forced to repeatedly witness over the years. In the past decade specifically, a lot of fans have expressed their exhaustion with these origins, and especially the overly dour takes, like Man of Steel and Fantastic Four.
Perhaps as a result, with the exception of perhaps Captain Marvel, the MCU has been pretty gun-shy when it comes to origin stories of late. While much of Black Panther concerned the past, but we never see T’Challa first honing his skills, and the MCU’s incarnation of Spider-Man skipped over his backstory entirely, to the relief of many.
In terms of Marvel’s streaming series, Moon Knight brought a new character into the MCU, but it was basically in the context of a (goofy) psychological horror story. And Hawkeye introduced Kate Bishop, but as the heir to a pre-existing character’s mantle. Ms. Marvel, on the other hand, is embracing the old-school “Holy crap, I have superpowers” arc that has fallen out of fashion recently. Part of what makes Ms. Marvel so good is how it borrows from some of the best, most enjoyable onscreen superhero origin stories; like how this week’s rooftop training montage –
– distinctly recalls the beginning of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.
And Kamala’s first heroic endeavor, saving a kid from a perilously tall building, is not unlike Superman’s debut in Richard Donner’s 1978 classic.
But it’s not exactly perfect. Unlike Superman, Kamala ultimately botches her rescue -- striking a superhero pose for fans taking photos while her rescuee falls onto the roof of a parked car.
Because, controlling your powers is only part of the process – again, like in Spider-Man. By tapping into the vibes of these past stories, and also their emotional/hormonal nuances, Ms. Marvel is arguably breathing new life into a familiar narrative framework – now with more Bollywood references.
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Top Image: Marvel Studios