Ms. Marvel Has Given Deeper Meaning To The Character's Iconic Costume

"Ms. Marvel" has quickly but surely become the most refreshing change of pace for the MCU in years. From its vibrant tone and Disney Channel Original Series vibe, to its great supporting cast, its killer soundtrack, and particularly, its slower pace.

Now that the MCU is hellbent on turning movies into TV shows, often with mixed results, "Ms. Marvel" feels like the first of the shows to actually earn its medium. This is a show that is as much about the family downtime and the personal problems as it is about the superheroics. Unlike, say, "Moon Knight" or "Hawkeye," the overarching plot that ties the episodes together often feels like an afterthought to the personal story of Iman Vellani's Kamala, in a good way.

This care and attention paid to making us care about Kamala the teenage girl as much if not more than Ms. Marvel the hero makes the show special, as it is a rare Marvel story that makes sure to tie everything to its character, from her powers, to even her costume.

More than just a suit of armor

So far, most MCU characters have entered the screen with their hero costumes already designed and finished. We've got plenty of origin stories, but they've mostly focused on how the heroes get their powers and their villains, waving away the how they got their costumes. Take Iron Man, for instance. Sure, he took a while before perfecting the suit, but he built most of it right away, only making small adjustments along the way. 

For many MCU characters, their costumes were just things they already had on them, like Thor's or Doctor Strange's uniform, while characters like Hawkeye, Moon Knight, or Ant-Man debuted as heroes already with the suit on. Even Spider-Man was introduced in the MCU with his suit already matching the design of the comics. This has taken a bit away from the meaning of the costumes, making them all about being practical without having any meaningful connection to those who wear it. 

When it comes to "Ms. Marvel," however, Marvel is taking a page right out of the Netflix shows like "Daredevil," which waited until the last possible minute in its first season to finally give us the iconic "Devil of Hell's Kitchen." By waiting so long, "Daredevil" turned its costume into more than just a bullet proof suit, but a symbol, and "Ms. Marvel" is taking that a step further by connecting it all to Kamala's personal experiences.

A rewarding process

We have known for a while that Kamala will eventually don her comic book outfit, but the show has taken its sweet time getting there, only introducing parts of the costume at a time while Kamala continues to wear her Captain Marvel cosplay.

In episode 3, Kamala's best friend Bruno (Matt Lintz) made a superhero mask to help hide her identity. In the comics, it was Bruno who made a suit for Kamala that could withstand her polymorph powers. Though he's so far only provided a mask, it is a meaningful symbol of his promise to keep her identity secret.

Then in episode 4, she receives another gift, a blue vest given to her by Farhan Akhtar's Waleed, the leader of the Red Daggers. Even though her comic book outfit doesn't include a vest, Waleed's words about there being "history in every thread of this fabric, so you always remember where you came from" may prove to be inspiration for the blue burkini that serves as the base for her costume. The idea of her costume being a reminder of where Kamala comes from is profound and completely on point with the themes of the show, which has done more to teach the world about the Partition of India than most Western media before it, while also showing us more about the day to day life of its titular hero than any post-Raimi "Spider-Man" movies.

The birth of a hero

Lastly, episode 5 gave us a double dose of costume hints. When Kamala fights the ClanDestine and accidentally opens a gateway to another dimension, the commotion causes her necklace to fall of and break. When Kamala's mother arrives at the scene later and finds the necklace, we see that the only piece of the necklace left now looks like a lightning bolt, the symbol on the front of Ms. Marvel's outfit. In the comics, the lightning bolt is an homage to Kamala's favorite hero, Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, but making the source of that inspiration a necklace that read Kamala's name in Arabic makes it all more meaningful.

Likewise, later in the episode we get Kamala saying goodbye to her new ally, Aramis Knight's Kareem, aka Red Dagger. Before he leaves, he takes off his red scarf and hands it over to Kamala as a parting gift. Of course, part of Ms. Marvel's costume is a red scarf. This serves as more than just being a gift from a friend, but a reminder that Kamala is never alone, because she has allies and friends that care for her. And as Waleed said, it serves as a reminder of where Kamala came from.

As the MCU continues to introduce more and more heroes, especially some who don't have the history or are as recognizable as, say, Hulk or Captain America, the franchise has to put more effort into making its superhero origin stories distinct and memorable. Ms. Marvel's story is just beginning, but it is already breaking every MCU mold out there to become one of the best additions to the franchise, one whose experiences, powers, and even costume have deeper meaning than just making her cool.

"Ms. Marvel" is streaming on Disney+.