Ms. Marvel's Family Dynamics Are A Refreshing Spin On The Teen Superhero Story

When comparing DC and Marvel, the usual explanation that fans use is that the pantheon of DC heroes is comprised of gods dressed up as regular humans, while Marvel heroes are regular humans who dress up as gods.

But when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's been a while since any of the characters have felt like actual humans. And I don't mean this in having vulnerabilities, of which they have few, but in how little we see of people like Natasha Romanoff, Tony Stark, Thor, or Peter Quill act like actual people with normal non-heroic lives. 

We've seen the Avengers go up against titanic threats, but it's been a good while since the MCU has allowed its heroes to have mundane problems or things to do that don't have anything to do with their costumes. In that regard, Paul Rudd's Scott Lang is one of the most human heroes in the MCU because we know who Scott is like outside of being Ant-Man and what he fights for.

The Marvel Disney+ shows have helped in this regard, increasing the amount of time we spend with the characters outside of the fight scenes and big plot moments, but "Ms. Marvel" is the show that took most advantage of this opportunity, by making its hero's personal life as important as the heroics. In the season 1 finale, "Ms. Marvel" gave us one scene that highlighted why Kamala Khan is a different kind of MCU hero.

A loving family

From their first scene together, it becomes clear that Kamala's family — especially her parents — are so overprotective that there is no way she could trust them with the knowledge of her powers. After all, when Kamala tried to tell her mom about going to The New Jersey AvengerCon, she was convinced it would be a rave and forbade her daughter from going unless her dad came along. Like most teen superheroes like Spider-Man or Billy Batson, Kamala believes she doesn't have anyone (except Bruno) whom she can trust with her secret identity without putting them in danger or turning them against her.

But all that changed in the fifth episode when Kamala's mother found out about her abilities and, rather than scold her daughter, seemed quite proud. This subplot culminated in the finale where once again the show subverts expectations when it comes to Kamala's family dynamics. Even before Kamala can confess to her family, her dad and brother jump out and reveal that they already know about Kamala's superhero alter-ego and they are both excited and proud of her.

What makes the scene and this overall subplot so emotional and heartwarming is how quick and matter-of-factly its conclusion was. Kamala is like most superheroes — teenagers and otherwise — in that she believes her powers isolate her from the rest of the world like a lonely crusader. The only reason Bruno knew about her powers is that he was present when they first manifested. But unlike, say, The Flash, Kamala doesn't have to keep her identity secret from those she loves, because they have her back and support her.

A community

In the MCU, secret identities aren't really a thing outside of Peter Parker's, but we don't really see much of a support system for the heroes who aren't Hawkeye and married. Instead, they are mostly loners with no one but their co-workers to fall back on. The closest thing to a family we have in the MCU is the Guardians of the Galaxy, but then again they are all part of a team rather than the at-home support system for Star-Lord. Even Spider-Man lost his support system in "No Way Home."

Kamala's family makes her powerful, literally! Her powers are actually connected to her heritage and her identity and her costume comes from those she loves, from her friend to her ally, to even her mom. Likewise, when the Department of Damage Control closes in on her and Kamran, her entire community comes in to help her. This is a big parallel to the bridge scene in "Spider-Man" where ordinary citizens stand up to Green Goblin in support of Spider-Man.

But Kamala actually has more in common with Miles Morales, particularly the version from the PlayStation game. In the game, Miles' mom and his best friend know he's Spider-Man, and they help him in his fight against villains. Likewise, we see how much Harlem loves Spider-Man, how they refer to Miles as "our Spider-Man" and give him a "Harlem Pride" suit, as people on the street stop to help him every now and then — like when a street artist makes sure Miles is warm in the winter with a hat and scarf.

Kamala's superhero career is just beginning, but it is already up to a wonderful start that makes her stand out from many teen superheroes, with a big and supportive family, friends, and a community that wants her to succeed and help her in her journey.

"Ms. Marvel" is streaming on Disney+.