This article contains Ms. Marvel spoilers.
Ms. Marvel episode 2
Ms. Marvel episode 2 is every bit as charming as the first one, although perhaps slightly less packed with countless MCU references. There’s still a whole lot of ’em, though, and we’re doing our best to break them all down for you. Here’s everything we found so far…
Kamala tries a bunch of Ant-Man related tests (shrinking, flying, talking to ants) and none of it works. She also listens to his podcast and his name has come up more than any hero other than Captain Marvel – maybe he’s going to take on the role Wolverine served in the comics?
In the comics, everyone’s favorite cranky X-Man was one of Kamala’s all-time faves and he makes a surprise appearance early on to help Kamala out. He puts up with her non-stop enthusiasm and teaches her a few things, even begrudgingly coming to like her. Obviously MCU Ant-Man would bring a different vibe than Logan, but she seems especially connected to him, second to Captain Marvel of course. Given the nebulous state the X-Men exist in after Disney bought Fox, it’s unlikely Hugh Jackman will stop by the show, but perhaps Paul Rudd filmed a cameo.
This could also be a shout out to the overlap between Ant Man and the comic book version of Kamala’s powerset: as a polymorph, she could get very big or very small, but those changes depleted her of energy, eventually leaving her exhausted and vulnerable. Sound familiar?
Speaking of Kamala’s powers…
Beyond testing for Ant-Man powers, Kamala asks Bruno if she might be Asgardian and related to Thor. Zoe dubs her “Night Light” and we hear someone in the crowd at the Eid celebration call Kamala that. It seems like other people naming her, dressing up as Captain Marvel, and searching for the source of her powers among all these white heroes are combining to serve the theme in the comics of Kamala thinking she had to literally become a white woman to be a hero, before realizing the best hero she can be is herself, in her own skin and dressed the way she feels comfortable.
The Inhumans and Kamala’s Origin
Kamala’s great-grandmother Aisha’s bangle unlocking the superhuman part of Kamala is similar to the Terrigen concept from the comics: an outside force unlocking something internal, inherent to her. It reinforces the fact that this power was passed down to her from her ancestors, that superpowers originate among her people, too.
Kingo and The Eternals
Kamran and Kamala have a moment connecting over several shared pop cultural touchstones, including Swet Shop Boys, Baazigar, SRK, ddlj, and Kingo. SRK stands for Shah Rukh Khan. But in particular, the line “Don’t tell me you have a massive crush on Kingo, too,” refers to Kumail Nanjiani’s character in Eternals, the member of the squad who has spent much of his immortal life as a celebrity.
Bill & Ted?
Bruno’s convenience store is a Circle Q instead of a Circle K, probably for brand reasons, but I’m taking this as a Bill & Ted reference regardless. In this show, Kamala and her friends are the “strange things” that will be afoot at the Circle Q.
- The banger during the training montage is “Goddess” by Krewella & Nervo, Featuring Raja Kumari. Krewella is currently made of Pakistani-American sisters Jahan and Yasmine Yousaf who make EDM, and Raja Kumari is an Indian-American rapper. The lyrics are fire, if you didn’t catch them all.
- The mural during part of the training montage is by Brandan “BMIKE” Odums. Based in New Orleans, he’s a Black artist and activist who creates bold work at the intersection of art and resistance. See more of his work on IG.
- Ms. Marvel is full of references to other coming of age works. Playing “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes when Kamala is dancing through the house and her inner world feels like an intentional nod to the way the song opens over Baby’s internal monologue Dirty Dancing, a very political movie about a young woman who feels caught between doing the right thing and her family’s expectations as she figures out her identity independent of her family. Sound familiar?
- Kamala and Kamran hiding behind the menus is so cute and feels instantly iconic. It’s borrowed from Grease when Sandy and Danny go on their date and try to hide from the gang, but it also reminds me of Sixteen Candles for some reason.
- Every time Bruno wears the red vest and blueish shirt he looks like Marty McFly.
- The tour of the Eid celebration is like the Mean Girls cafeteria clique tour but more clever and less racist. Illuminaunties? Tiny Fey wishes.
MISCELLANEOUS COOL STUFF
- In this episode we see what seems to be a femme queer couple, a GBT Homecoming poster, and a kid with a pink undercut. That plus the “Asgard Pride” really sends the memo that Kamala’s school, and Ms. Marvel generally, is an LGBTQ-friendly place. Or at least one where we exist. (Side note: We get our own homecoming? Queer teens, is this a thing? Are people really going with the acronym GBT now?)
- The Ms. Marvel title artwork is different each time, might have a bunch of pop culture references but mostly looks like they’re close/knock-off, including a New Jersey license plate, some 8-bit style art that could be an homage to the original Mario Bros. game, Saved by the Bell, Islamic art and emojis, and even one that clowns on her performance during her driver’s test. There are a lot of space themes in that logo, as well, but that might just be a nod to the decor of her bedroom.
- The bit at the party where some jock clown offers Kamala a drink and she asks “is there alcohol in this?” and he lies about it is straight out of the very first issue of Ms. Marvel. In the comic, that scene took place at the same party where Kamala discovered her powers, which of course was changed to the more dramatic AvengerCon for the show.
- Kamala’s grandmother is named Sana, probably after Ms. Marvel EP Sana Amanat, one of the creators of the character, who is a Pakistani-American Muslim.
- Kamran asks Kamala, “Who taught you to drive? Bowser?” shouting out Mario Kart and the go-to player if you’re trying to dominate the field with absolutely zero finesse. Yoshi for life over here.
- Kamala is adorable doing that hero pose after she rescues the kid at Eid (if not stressing me out, apparently for good reason), but I can’t see anyone do a hero pose now without thinking of Yelena Belova.
- Nakia has awesome kicks, which someone steals. Apparently they are Versace. Her nickname, Naks, is directly from the comics. Nakia’s style in general is top notch.
- I truly hope we get a stinger or deleted scene of teenage goth Aamir working at Hot topic at some point.
- Muneeba in ultimate mom mode: “Did you not eat anything, or did you eat too much?”
- The Khan’s being extremely into Jon Bon Jovi and the album Slippery When Wet is very Jersey of them. This series might be the most grounded in place of any MCU/Disney+ joint so far. My only question – are they into Springsteen, too?
- Oh my god I LOVE Nakia’s enamel campaign pin and I WANT one! Nakia has the best election swag and I am HERE FOR IT. What do I have to do to get one of those pins?
- Zoe’s manicure, eye makeup, and collection of bomber jackets is pretty good.
- Does Bruno know a bit of Urdu? He programmed that AI to understand it…
- Kamala says she can’t tell whether the writing on the bangle is Urdu or Arabic. The two use very similar alphabets that are mostly the same, with a few differences. They can also be written in highly stylized calligraphy that can be very hard to read if you’re not used to it, and you might not necessarily have a ton of practice reading and writing them if you’re mostly used to speaking them or saying certain phrases or prayers.
- When Kamala and Nakia are late to masjid, they’re trying to do their wudhu (ablutions) fast. Muslims must present themselves freshly clean to God. Masjid is the Arabic word for mosque, and Urdu uses the same word.
- Ok “Haram dot Kamran” is actually kinda cute, for a big brother joke. “Haram” is Arabic for forbidden, it references anything that’s against the rules of Islam.
- It’s cool to see Tyesha, a Black Muslim, to show some of the diversity within the American Muslim community.
- The creepy surveillance drones seem to be government-issue, given the inclusion of Agent Cleary, but they were also a favorite tactic of comic book villain The Inventor. The part-cockatiel evil genius created his own technologically advanced henchmen. This also feels like an acknowledgment of the reality (amplified post-9/11) that Muslims and SWANA folks (Southwest Asians and North Africans) face in the US, being surveilled, harassed, and attacked by government agencies and drones here and abroad.
Spot anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!