Everything you need to know before watching ‘Ms. Marvel’

There’s no rest for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just one month after the conclusion of the Oscar Isaac-led “Moon Knight” and a month before “Thor: Love and Thunder” is slated to hit theaters, the newest series in the interconnected franchise is set to make its Disney+ debut.

Premiering Wednesday, June 8, “Ms. Marvel” stars newcomer Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teen from Jersey City who lives and breathes everything Avengers. A megafan of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) who spends what some might say is too much time in a fantasy world of her own creation, Kamala, the MCU’s first Muslim superhero, sees her life changed forever once she discovers she has powers of her own. This shocking discovery, of which only her best friend Bruno (Matt Lintz) is aware, thrusts Kamala into a spotlight she’s not quite ready for, especially since she’s already living under the watchful eye of her overprotective parents (Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur).

The six-episode series was created by Bisha K. Ali, who also serves as the show’s head writer. It is just the second Disney+ live-action show to follow a brand new character to the MCU and not an existing supporting player from the films. And because Kamala Khan is still relatively new to the comics as well — she was created by Sana Amanat, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona in 2013 — we won’t judge you if you’re not too familiar with her or her story. So, as we look toward “Ms. Marvel’s” debut, here are five things you should know about the show before you watch.

1. It has more in common with the Spider-Man films than the rest of the MCU
You might have noticed this already, but most of the heroes depicted in the MCU are adults. It makes sense, especially when you expect them to face off against trickster gods, giant purple aliens and others hungry for power. But like the exceptionally fun Tom Holland “Spider-Man” films before it, “Ms. Marvel” introduces us to a teenage hero, which means the show features plenty of familiar teenage problems too, like school, crushes and parents who just don’t understand. It’s a refreshing change of pace, as Kamala’s youth brings some much-needed enthusiasm and vibrancy to the long-running franchise, especially in the wake of the events of “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) or even last year’s  “Hawkeye,” which saw its middle-aged hero ready to hang up his bow and quiver for good.

But unlike the recent “Spider-Man” films, Kamala is not a superhero when we first meet her. This is a true origin story with a dose of coming-of-age drama, which means the show could bring in a new set of fans. But Kamala is not the only young (or youngish) character in the MCU. She joins Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop (“Hawkeye”), Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova (“Black Widow”), Elijah Richardson’s Eli Bradley (“The Falcon and The Winter Soldier”), Julian Hilliard’s Billy and Jett Klyne’s Tommy (“WandaVision”), Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez (“Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness”) and even Kathryn Newton’s Cassie Lang (“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” slated for 2023). Marvel is building the next generation of the MCU right before our eyes.

2. Kamala’s powers and origin story diverge from the comics
In the comics, Kamala is an Inhuman whose powers — which allow her to alter her body — manifest after she’s exposed to Terrigen Mist. If “Ms. Marvel” had debuted during the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” era (and if the MCU had been willing/able to acknowledge the show’s existence), it’s possible the origin story of the MCU’s Kamala would be more closely aligned with that of the comic book character. But alas, it is not. This means Kamala comes by her powers in another way: a mystical bracelet.

As Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige recently reminded fans in an interview with Empire, the MCU is an adaptation of the comics, not a direct page-to-screen translation. “[Kamala] came about in a very specific time within the comic book continuity. She is now coming into a very specific time within the MCU continuity. And those two things didn’t match,” he said. “What we will learn about where those powers come from, and how they come about, is specific to the MCU.”

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3. The series has a unique visual style
With the exception of “Loki” and perhaps “WandaVision,” the MCU series on Disney+ have failed to stand out visually. That won’t be the case with “Ms. Marvel,” which honors the show’s comic book roots through creative splash page visuals and neon graphics. It’s not wholly unlike one of the other best Spider-Man films, the Oscar-winning animated film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” (2018).

4. It honors the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Now well into Phase Four, the MCU has nearly 15 years of history to draw from when crafting storylines for new films and TV shows. We’ve seen how the regular world of the franchise has reacted to the events depicted within these projects, like when Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) lost his livelihood after Damage Control moved in to clean up after the Battle of New York or when Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) actions during that same battle with the Chitauri affected Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and altered her life. This trend continues in “Ms. Marvel,” but it takes it to a whole new level.

On the series, Kamala is obsessed with the Avengers. She knows everything about them and even attends the first ever AvengerCon, a fan convention celebrating Earth’s mightiest heroes. Given her age and everything she’s likely endured and witnessed during her lifetime, it’s not that strange to think that she and others like her would idolize the people who’ve saved the world time and again. But this aspect of the character is also a clever way for the MCU to honor everything that has come before and remind us of the many men and women who’ve graced the metaphorical halls of the MCU over the years. It could be a bit self-indulgent, but as the MCU shifts away from the original characters who built it to focus on the characters who are its future, it’s also a nice little send-off.

5. The show paves the way for “The Marvels”
While we don’t yet know specifics, we do know that “Ms. Marvel” is a precursor of sorts to the “Captain Marvel” (2019) sequel “The Marvels,” which is slated to hit theaters on July 28, 2023. Vellani will reprise her role of Kamala opposite Larson as Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau.

“Ms. Marvel” premieres Wednesday, June 8 on Disney+. New episodes will debut weekly.

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