Ms. Marvel exposes a fatal flaw in the MCU's TV strategy
Ms. Marvel took an unfortunate turn in its second half.
When Ms. Marvel premiered, it had the potential to be the best Marvel series on Disney+ to date. From a technical and visual standpoint, the first few episodes of Ms. Marvel remain superior to anything else Marvel has released on Disney+.
The series’ endless homages to classic teen movies helped it carve out a unique identity, and in typical Marvel fashion its cast members all proved to be excellent choices for their respective roles. However, Episode 4 threw the show’s stellar Marvel Cinematic Universe ranking into question, and the two episodes that followed did little to solve the problem.
Ultimately, Ms. Marvel ended up making a mistake that’s becoming all too common in the Disney+ side of the MCU.
Ms. Marvel continued a disappointing Disney+ pattern
Near the end of Ms. Marvel Episode 4, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) and her friend Kareem (Aramis Knight) find themselves being chased through the streets of Karachi by the Clandestines. The chase makes up the majority of Episode 4’s third act but, like many of the series’ action sequences, it feels confusing and sloppily edited. The Karachi chase is narratively and technically flawed in a way that so much of Ms. Marvel isn’t.
The series’ fifth episode also felt scattered. It begins as a great historical romance, one that charts the relationship that blossomed between Kamala's great-grandmother Aisha (Mehwish Hayat), and great-grandfather Hasan (Fawad Khan). However, the episode loses steam once the Clandestines are reintroduced, and its second half devolves into a confusing train station sequence that fails to match the grandeur that preceded it.
The sixth and final episode of Season 1, meanwhile, brings the series to a surprisingly lackluster close. While it doesn’t become the same kind of sloppy, action-centric hour of television that so many of Marvel’s previous Disney+ finales have been reduced to (we’re looking at you, Hawkeye), it still fails to replicate the vibrant energy and style that elevated Ms. Marvel’s earlier installments.
Ms. Marvel is not the first of Marvel’s Disney+ shows to seriously dip in quality in its second half. With the exception of Loki and What If…?, Marvel’s Disney+ shows have all delivered disappointing finales. WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, and Moon Knight all ditched the character-focused format of their initial episodes in favor of action-heavy finales full of lackluster set pieces and wonky VFX.
Ms. Marvel’s decline feels less like a surprising turn and more like the latest addition to a disappointing pattern for the MCU. Considering how many resources Marvel has it is disposal, it’s frustrating to see so many series fall flat.
The Inverse Analysis — The first three episodes of Ms. Marvel are so strong that it was disappointing to see the second half of the series fall below the high bar they set. The show’s villains rank as some of the worst the MCU has ever seen, and entire plotlines — namely, Bruno’s trip to CalTech — are ignored in the final three episodes.
What’s worse is that Ms. Marvel is just the latest project to fall victim to a problem that continues to affect many of the MCU’s Disney+ originals. These shows are launching with great premises, but most are struggling to stick the landing. Marvel needs to seriously reevaluate its approach to its Disney+ originals, or its lackluster shows will continue to outnumber its successful ones.
Ms. Marvel is streaming now on Disney+.