The Marvels is a great reason to catch up on the MCU’s most underrated show

Ms. Marvel may not have captured the attention of a public starving for new TV, like WandaVision, or a public starving for more Tom Hiddleston, like Loki. But it’s still quietly one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe TV shows produced for Disney Plus.

If you’re trying to figure out how much “homework” you need to do before The Marvels (featuring Ms. Marvel’s big-screen debut) hits theaters next week, take it from us: This delightful little six-episode show should be at the top of your list.

Despite Ms. Marvel’s limited space to work with, its six episodes pack in superhero action, teen drama, generational trauma, and the diasporic immigrant experience, without feeling like it’s juggling too much. The show’s titular hero is Kamala Khan, a superfan of the spacefaring hero Captain Marvel, who discovers her own incredible powers on a fateful trip to “AvengerCon” and goes on a search to find their source, and her own way of being the hero of her Jersey City community.

The series has a distinct visual style and narrative tone inspired by bright comic book colors, John Hughes movies, and the pop-in graphics of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — but all that energy is second to the charm of its star, Iman Vellani. Of the gaggle of young actors recruited to play the MCU’s second generation of superheroes, Vellani stands apart, displaying an effortless earnestness and performative range that belies her newcomer status. (And her co-written Ms. Marvel comic miniseries is pretty great, too!)

The heart of Ms. Marvel is with Kamala and her loved ones: the eternally compelling grounded drama of a family trying to stay connected as its kids grow more and more independent of their parents and familial past. The deliberate balance of Kamala’s everyday life with her superheroing doesn’t just set Ms. Marvel apart from nearly all of the rest of the MCU fare, it also makes it one of the most loving and direct adaptations of a specific (and beloved) Marvel comic in the MCU’s history.

Luckily, it seems like Kamala’s parents and brother get at least a little screen time in The Marvels, when Kamala’s superpower-endowed bangle becomes cosmically “entangled” with Captain Marvel and Photon, in some kind of three-way Freaky Friday-ish space adventure. There’s still time to kill between now and when The Marvels hits theaters on Nov. 10 — let it be your excuse to watch (or rewatch) one of the best new additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in years.

Ms. Marvel is streaming on Disney Plus.