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'Ms. Marvel' praised by fans but flooded with bad reviews. Critics think they know why.

The new Disney+ series follows Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim, Pakistani American girl with superpowers. “The superhero universe for the longest time has been patriarchal,” one critic said.
Iman Vellani in "Ms. Marvel" on Disney+.
Iman Vellani in "Ms. Marvel" on Disney+.©Marvel Studios 2022

Marvel’s new Disney+ series “Ms. Marvel” received praise from reviewers and fans, but some are blasting its diversity, calling it too “woke” and “cringe.” And critics say they know what's behind the criticism.

The series, released Wednesday, follows Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani American girl from New Jersey who struggles to fit in at school and home until she’s imbued with superpowers by a bangle passed down from her grandmother. 

As episode one aired yesterday, fans — including Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai — shared their excitement over the studio’s first Pakistani Muslim superhero.

The series, which was generally favored on Rotten Tomatoes, has a 6.6/10 rating on IMDb, with almost 3,000 users giving the show one star — many of whom were men over the age of 30

"Ms. Marvel" is currently the lowest rated Marvel Cinematic Universe series but has only 14,000 reviews compared to the more than 100,000 reviews the other shows have.

One reviewer who gave the series one star said the show seemed like “an Indian soap opera.” Another user said it was a “kids show."

Harleen Singh, an associate professor of women’s studies and South Asian history at Brandeis University, said the criticism coming from older men isn’t surprising. 

“The superhero universe for the longest time has been patriarchal,” she told NBC Asian America. “So it’s not surprising to me that this criticism is coming from that demographic because in a way, that demographic is the all-consuming group of the superhero universe for comic books and all the kind of narratives and stories that the superhero universe represents.”

Many felt the criticism was unwarranted and said that not every show was made for every demographic.

Reviewers such as Joe Vargas, who hosts the YouTube channel AngryJoeShow, tweeted that his positive video review received more down-votes than any video he’s posted. The down-votes came just minutes after posting. 

Singh pointed out that current representation could impact future media. “It’s not just about the kind of consumption we want at the present moment, but it’s also about signaling what could be coming in the future with new episodes, new movies and new characters. The resentment is as much for the present-moment representation as it is for what that moment represents for the future to come.” 

A similar controversy occurred in March after the release of Pixar’s “Turning Red,” which had strongly favorable reviews when negative reviewers called it “narrow” and “alienating.”