The Best Pop Culture References in MS. MARVEL (Part 2) - Nerdist
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The Best Pop Culture References in MS. MARVEL (Part 2)

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Jump To: Episode 4 // Episode 5 // Episode 6

Ms. Marvel is officially done… at least, for now. We’d totally be down for a second season. And we cannot wait to see Kamala Khan again in The Marvels. The first three episodes offered up a smorgasbord of pop culture tropes, music by Pakistani artists, and more. And the back half is no different. In fact, there’s so much that we had to split up all that goodness into two parts.

Here are the best pop culture references in Ms. Marvel for episodes four through six.

Episode 4 – “Seeing Red”

“Summer Nights” – Raaginder, Wisechild

This song plays in the background in the first scene, where Kamala and Muneeba are on the plane to Karachi. Raaginder is an American of Punjabi Sikh descent music producer and violinist, and melds Indian classical violin with hip-hop. 

“AAG” – Talal Qureshi feat. Naseebo Lal

Talal Qureshi is a Pakistani singer, songwriter, producer, and DJ. Naseebo Lal is a Pakistani folk singer who sings in Punjabi, Urdu, and Marwari languages. This boisterous song plays over the opening credits (where you can see Ms. Marvel written in Urdu) and while Kamala and her family arrive at Sana’s house.

“Pasoori” – Ali Sethi, Shae Gill

“Pasoori” plays when Kamala, her cousins, and her mother go to the boat club. Featured on the most recent season of Coke Studio Pakistan, Pasoori took Pakistan and India by storm, as it climbed charts in both countries. The song tells a story of a traitorous love, and includes Punjabi and Urdu lyrics.

Vague Directions From a Stranger 

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Kamala begins her investigation about this mysterious train that she and Nani saw in a vision. She’s out with her big cousins who, despite knowing she’s from America, leave her to her own devices to explore the train station. She gets there but not without the classic “ask a stranger who will give vague directions.” It’s a wonder our precious Ms. Marvel didn’t get lost. 

Thinly-Veiled Superhero Disguise 
The Best Pop Culture References in MS. MARVEL (Part 2)_1
Marvel Studios

As she prepares to explore a restricted area of the train station, Kamala does what many superheroes do when they want to be incognito: use a thinly veiled disguise. Superman with his glasses. He-Man simply changing his shirt. Those tiny shifts that only marginally change how they look. Love to see it. 

Ninja Turtles and Donkey Kong Insults 

Kamala meets Kareem, whom comic fans know as Red Dagger, and they get into a friendly fight. In the midst of putting her epic powers against his skilled daggers, there’s some good old teasing about each other’s jumping skills. We love the Ninja Turtles and Donkey Kong references here. 

Come With Me If You Want to Live 

This is the line that Kareem says to Kamala when they are busted by authority figures. In reality, they are not in danger of death at that time. But he admits he always wanted to say it. This is a direct reference to the Terminator film franchise’s well-known catchprase. 

“Disco Deewane” – Nazia Hassan

Nazia Hassan was one of the most influential pop singers of Pakistan and of South Asia in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and Ms. Marvel features one of her most famous songs, “Disco Deewane,” as Kamala and Kareem are walking into the Chinese restaurant that serves as a front for the Red Daggers’ headquarters. “Disco Deewane” was a chart-topping song when it was released in 1981, and was unique not only because of its sound, but also because it was not on a Bollywood or movie soundtrack, and still did so well, despite soundtrack songs dominating charts.

The Not-So-Weird Woman Who Really Knows 

A common trope in TV and film is the “crazy lady.” She might be the neighbor next door or the one who lives in a creepy house on the outskirts of town. She’s full of strange stories and theories that make everyone think she is either hella weird or spiraling. But she’s not so weird after all. That’s Sana, who knows exactly what she’s talking about and refuses to let others’ opinions stop her from telling her story. 

“Mera Laung Gawacha” – Musarrat Nazir

This song plays when Muneeba and Sana are in the house together. Muneeba is cleaning the room, and “Mera Laung Gawacha” plays on an old record player. It is a Punjabi song sung by Musarrat Nazir, who was a Pakistani singer and actress and was most prominent in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

A…Vehicle Chase! 

A good chase scene in the city is a must. And that’s what we get with Ms. Marvel with Kareem driving a Tuk Tuk while several ClanDestines chase them in trucks and other vehicles. Kamala even uses her frankly awful driving skills to help save Kareem in a pinch. What a fun scene. 

A still from Ms. Marvel shows Kareem AKA the Red Dagger and Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel standing in Karachi in superhero poses
Marvel Studios
Time Traveling?

Time travel never gets old. NEVER. Najma strikes Kamala’s bangle and sends her back to the night of Sana’s escape during the Partition. It appears that Kamala is stuck—it’s always that way, right?—but maybe not. This could simply be a vision, albeit more vivid than what she’s experienced before. 

Episode 5 – “Time And Again”

“Tu Mera Chand” – Suraiya, Shyam 

This episode spends much of its time in the past, therefore there are not many modern pop culture references here. “Tu Mera Chand” is from the 1949 Bollywood film, Dillagi, starring actress and singer Suraiya and Shyam. Suraiya was one of the most celebrated Bollywood actresses of the ‘40s, and was a playback singer for many films throughout her career as well. Shyam was also a celebrated actor in the ‘40s, until his untimely death at the age of 31 in 1951. This song plays over the opening of episode five, situating us in the ‘40s, where the action begins.

Propaganda Videos

Propaganda videos were obviously real but they often show up in historical episodes of TV and period films. We have seen this before with Captain America and WandaVision, both of which use military campaigns and commercials (respectively) to capture the era. The Partition video does the same thing in this episode of Ms. Marvel.

“Aaja Ri Nindiya” – Noor Jehan

Aaja Ri Nindiya is the song Aisha sings to Sana. The actress for Aisha, Mehwish Hayat herself sings the lullaby, whose title literally translates to “Come to me, sleep.” The song was originally sung by Noor Jehan, who was one of the most influential singers in the Indian subcontinent, beginning her career in India, and then continuing it in Pakistan. Noor Jehan’s career spanned six decades, from the 1930s to the ‘90s. She holds the record for the most film songs sung in Pakistani cinema by a woman.

“Tu Jhoom” – Abida Parveen, Naseebo Lal

Tu Jhoom, sung in Punjabi, was the first song released in season 14 of Coke Studio, Pakistan’s longest-running music show. Abida Parveen is one of the most respected and renowned Sufi singers in Pakistan, with a career spanning almost 50 years. She is known to many as the “Queen of Sufi music.” Naseebo Lal is a Pakistani folk singer who sings in Punjabi, Urdu, and Marwari languages, and has had a career spanning almost 40 years. Tu Jhoom plays over the end credits.

Episode 6 – “No Normal”

“Cpt Space” – Janoobi Khargosh

This song started off the episode as it played over the Marvel intro. Janoobi Khargosh is a synth pop band formed by Waleed Ahmed, and started off in Karachi, the same city where Kamala’s family is from. Janoobi Khargosh rose to fame in the early 2010’s, and their song “Cpt Space” is one of their most popular.

The Big Superhero Showdown 

What’s a good finale without a big superhero showdown?! And we get one with Kamala and Kamran (as the superpowered people) along with a host of allies including Bruno and Nakia. The plan is super fun, involving softballs (an X-Men Easter egg that you can read more about here) and some great music. We also get the classic “romantic moment in the middle of chaos” when Kamala and Kamran almost kiss. Awww. Of course, our girl hero comes out victorious with the help of her family, friends, and the whole community. 

“Ko Ko Koreena” – Ahmed Rushdi

Ko Ko Koreena played in the first episode as Kamala and her mom were shopping for the wedding, and it played again in the sixth episode as the DODC agents approach the fake bomb the ragtag group placed as a distraction. This song is from the Urdu-language film Armaan and is widely regarded as one of the first pop songs of Pakistan. Ahmed Rushdi was one of the most influential singers in the Pakistan film industry in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“Anthem” – Swet Shop Boys

“Anthem” first played in the second episode, when Kamala and Kamran bond over their love of Bollywood and Swet Shop Boys. It plays in the sixth episode when Kamran announces himself to the DODC agents, as the rest of the group prepares to face off with them. 

photo of Kamala Khan standing in front of her mirror in Ms. Marvel costume
Marvel Studios
“Hadippa” – Mika Singh, Jaideep Sahni

This was also a song that was featured earlier in the series, when Bruno, Kamala, Nakia, and Ruby Aunty all lead a dance at Aamir and Tyesha’s wedding. Bruno bravely uses the same song and some fun dance moves to stall the DODC agents so that Kamala and Kamran can get away. This song is from the 2009 Bollywood movie Dil Bole Hadippa starring Rani Mukherji and Shahid Kapoor.

“Indian Summer” – Jai Wolf

This plays as Kamala has her full-circle superhero moment in front of her mirror. Jai Wolf is a Bangladeshi-American, New York-based electronic music producer, and Indian Summer is one of his most famous songs.

“Lightswitch” – CHAII

“Lightswitch” plays as Kamala is jumping across Jersey City in her new suit and her glowing platforms. The first lyric is “I wanna see the light with no light switch”, and was likely included because that is exactly what Kamala can do. CHAII is a Kiwi-Persian artist, who raps in both English and Farsi, and incorporates both cultures in her music.

An X-Men/Mutant Reference?!

Yes, you read that right. Ms. Marvel is the first mutant in the MCU. We have a full explanation about why this is so pivotal so check that out. But, to hear Bruno say the word mutant and to hear the theme of X-Men: The Animated Series play in the background was a glorious thing. And it is the last big pop culture reference we get for this show full of love, wonder, and family.

“Aavegi” – Ritviz

Aavegi is an original song Ritviz made for the Ms. Marvel soundtrack, and it plays over the credits at the end of episode six. Ritviz is an Indian singer-songwriter and musician from Darbhanga, Bihar, in India. He blends classical Indian styles with electronic music.

Originally published on July 1, 2022.

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