Ms. Marvel Is The Rare Marvel Show That Justified Not Being A Movie

This article contains major spoilers for the entire first season of "Ms. Marvel."

We are now six live-action shows deep into Marvel Studios' Disney+ TV experiment, and there is one big trend that is becoming noticeable: The six-episode format doesn't work. The shows have allowed Marvel to deepen characters that didn't get their due in the films, like Wanda and Hawkeye, and introduce characters that may never have had their own film, like Moon Knight, but oftentimes these shows have felt like movies stretched out over six hours.

That's not the case with "Ms. Marvel," which quickly became the best thing Marvel has done so far in Phase 4. More importantly, the story of Kamala Khan is one of the rare stories to actually justify not being a movie.

Fitting many stories in one package

From the moment the MCU stopped placing references to other movies exclusively in post-credits scenes, their plots started to feel overstuffed. Nowadays even the most self-contained movie frequently has so many things going on at once that they rarely feel fleshed out.

"Ms. Marvel" is similar in that it has many things happening at the same time. We have the story of Kamala learning to use her powers, embracing a life of heroism, and getting her costume. There's also the story of Kamala's family troubles — her relationship with her mom, her dad, and her brother. But don't forget her friends! And definitely don't forget the threat of the Djinn who are after Kamala, or Kamala's romances, or the exploration of Kamala's family history and their connection to the Partition of India.

This is too much to fit in a single movie — at least with the care and attention that the TV format allowed "Ms. Marvel" to have compared to many of the recent Marvel movies. "Eternals" barely managed to make its titular characters feel distinct from one another, and "Thor: Love and Thunder" tried to cram 15 years' worth of comic storylines into a single movie and couldn't get half of them right.

When it comes to Disney+ shows, they've suffered a bit from repetitiveness. As wonderful as Oscar Isaac was in "Moon Knight," its esoteric plot and lack of a clear direction until the very end made it hard for some viewers to stick with the show during its whole run — which could have been avoided by turning it into a movie. The many plots of "Ms. Marvel," however, could only have really worked with the expanded runtime of a TV show. Had this been a movie, we would have likely missed what made it so unique among Marvel titles.

Letting things breathe

Unlike characters like Thor or even Doctor Strange, whose personal storylines feel so connected to their larger-than-life adventures, "Ms. Marvel" is at its best when it explores the mundane life of Kamala Khan rather than her alter ego, Night Light. This harkens back to the source material, when her comic was lauded as "the closest character to classic Peter Parker" given how much it managed to make readers care about the titular character outside of her superhero adventures. 

In the show, this translates to emotional and nuanced scenes in which Kamala interacts with her family, is embarrassed by her dad, fights with her best friend, or even gets engaged in love triangle hijinks. These scenes and plot threads would never be allowed to breathe as much as they do if this were a movie, which would have likely devoted more time to the interdimensional mystery of Kamala's powers and the DODC threat rather than to the life of what is essentially a Disney Channel Original Series teenage protagonist. 

Then there's one of the best aspects of the show: the time it took to explore the Partition of India and how it continues to impact people to this day. It is a testament to the brilliance of "Ms. Marvel" that it managed to make an extended flashback and history lesson feel essential to Kamala's story and her family. But would it have the same impact if it were reduced to a 10-minute subplot in a movie? Would we still have one of the best romances in the MCU if we had to quickly move on to the next thing?

If anything, the show needed even more time to let Kamala's everyday storylines breathe even more, so that her superheroics hit harder. Let's hope Kevin Feige and his team greenlight a second season soon.

"Ms. Marvel" is streaming on Disney+.