Ms. Marvel Episode 4 Review: “Cements Iman Vellani as a True MCU Star”
Warning: spoilers for Ms. Marvel episode 4 ahead – check back now if you haven’t seen the latest episode of the MCU show.
Marvel’s Disney Plus series has had the annoying habit of faltering in the middle. After strong starts, Loki and Hawkeye tread water before solid finishes. Ms. Marvel, however, reversed that trend with a sparkling trip to Pakistan that not only deepens the character’s mythology, but cements Iman Vellani, the force behind Kamala Khan, as the true star of the MCU.
The fourth episode focuses on the mysterious origins of Kamala’s bracelet – and whether or not she is a jinn. While taking the time to explain outlandish concepts has become a Marvel Studios staple, this is the first time Kamala has experienced a dumping ground of exposition to this degree. A far cry from the high-energy New Jersey style, portions of “Seeing Red” are devoted to going over plot points, but Kamala’s ever-endearing personality keeps things from getting stale. And while previous episodes have shown how Vellani acted first as a teenager and then as a superhero in training, the latest episode hones every part of her toolkit – she’s just as comfortable sitting in awkward dialogue scenes as she handles stunts and intricate action sequences.
While Vellani continues to be a shining presence, it’s Karachi who steals the show as Kamala visits her nani with her mother – and her nap pillow – in tow. The decision to film on location (in Thailand) pays off as the city feels removed from the muddy interiors and sound stages seen elsewhere. The markets are bustling, everything is inhabited, and there’s a real mix of history and culture etched around every corner, though that might slip away thanks to a slight over-reliance on the shaky camera during the thicker scenes. intense.
In addition to a new location, Ms. Marvel has a new director. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy was clearly the right choice to direct this episode, creating a sense of place in Karachi that surpasses the vast majority of other MCU shows’ trips abroad, including Moon Knight’s detour to Egypt. While the absence of Bruno and Nakia could have made for a lackluster adventure, Obaid-Chinoy drives each scene forward with energetic verve.
After Kamala sets off in search of answers regarding her bracelet, she is soon encountered by a member of the mysterious Red Daggers, and they engage in a quiptastic – albeit fleeting – fight that has a nice nod to Vellani being canadian. Group leader Waleed (played by prolific Indian actor Farhan Akhtar) explains the underground’s intentions, revealing that their home is part of another dimension of our world, albeit hidden by Noor’s veil. It’s… quite confusing, frankly, and more will have to be done in future episodes. As it stands, the reveal fails to land with the desired impact. The projection Waleed shows, however, bears an uncanny resemblance to the Inhuman Palace of Attilan – a potential sign that the series could set up the superpowered group sooner rather than later, especially given Waleed’s Thor-centric explanation that she is not a jinn.
The series’ villains, the Clandestines, continue to put the brakes on the proceedings – and it’s not just in reference to the group sneaking into the Red Dagger’s hideout to attack Waleed and Kamala. Their quick escape from Damage Control’s Supermax prison seems hasty, as does Kamran’s suspension for his betrayal. The old maxim that a hero is only as good as his villain, thankfully, doesn’t ring true here. They continue to be defeated by Ms. Marvel – the chase through Karachi also serving as the episode’s low point, with the camera apparently not knowing where to look – and their motives continue to be hazy at best, deliberately concealed for a possible big ta-da revelation. at worst. Their killing of Waleed, therefore, feels like a box-ticking villain rather than a moment that carries any real emotional weight.
In the final moments of the episode, Najma stabs Kamala’s bracelet, unleashing a surge of energy that takes Ms. Marvel back to the time of the Partition, the traumatic event that has dominated the series thus far. Is it a vision – like the steam train in the last episode – or real time travel? Either way, it’s one of the MCU’s best cliffhangers so far. That, alongside Iman Vellani’s continued brilliance, are the episode’s two big triumphs, and hint that Ms. Marvel could follow her idol Captain Marvel when the pair team up in 2023’s The Marvels.
Ms. Marvel is now on Disney Plus, with new episodes coming every Wednesday – check out the full Ms. Marvel release schedule for more. For more, check out our guide to Marvel Phase 4 and Loki season 2.