While Ms. Marvel is ultimately about a lot of things, one of the topics it hits hard is the concept that any unassuming teen can become a superhero. But Kamala Khan is wholly likable–a superhero-obsessed geek with a loving family, her self-discovery is a familiar one. We can say similar things about Peter Parker, Doreen Green, Miles Morales, America Chavez, and countless others. Most teenage superheroes have hearts of gold and a solid moral compass.
But in the real world, teenagers are much more complex and varied. So, what if we took more “realistic” teenagers and gave them superpowers? Chronicle (2012) asked that very questions and came away with a solid story. But there’s one big caveat here–if found footage movies aren’t your thing, then Chronicle won’t be your thing. This film is solidly in the found footage camp, thinking that there’s no better way to get closer to a protagonist’s state of mind than to have them vlog.
If you can get past the shaky cameras and introspective monologues, however, then there’s a quite interesting sci-fi/superhero movie here. Three teens from three different social circles–the popular guy (played by Michael B. Jordan), the average, unassuming teen, and the abused loner all stumble into Jean Grey-esque superpowers. And while these three teenage boys start off playing immature pranks and discovering the full extent of their powers, their paths escalate and veer off dark realms quickly.
Some of the drama is melodramatic, some of the effects are a bit cheap-looking, and then there’s the found footage thing. But if you can get past all of that, then this is a highly interesting premise that twists the teenage superhero genre.