Marvel’s 616, a brand new series on Disney+, explores Marvel’s rich history by going way beyond the stories and character everyone already knows and loves. Eight different filmmakers take a deep dive into completely unique Marvel stories that interest them.
The eighth and final episode, directed by Alison Brie, introduces a group of students at Florida’s Brandon High School as they delve into a whirlwind of auditions, blocking, and rehearsals for two Marvel productions. The episode, titled “Spotlight,” sees some ordinary people do some extraordinary things.
The episode opens introducing us to Brandon High School in Florida. There, we meet Courtney Kyle, the school’s theater department director, who explains that many of their students are looking for some sense of home because they might not have it at home. We also learn that the school is known for its athletics and not necessarily its theater program.
Kyle looks over two plays from the Marvel Spotlight program, a collection of stage plays written for high school. She decides to choose those two plays for her program to perform, as a way to maybe draw more interest to the program. The two plays are about two young Marvel characters – Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl.
We meet Kyle’s Theater 1 class, with students who have never taken any theater class before. This class will be performing the Ms. Marvel play. We meet several of the students – Bri, Ery and Jamaul – as they nervously audition for their parts in the upcoming play. Bri explains that she can connect with Kamala Khan as a superhero in high school, dealing with all the same problems young people deal with.
Next, we meet Kyle’s seventh period class filled with theater 2 and 3 students, who have some experience in drama. This class will be performing the Squirrel Girl play. Here, we meet two more students – Joey and Madi – who audition for the two lead roles of M.O.D.O.C. and, of course, Squirrel Girl.
With 10 weeks to go before the show, we see the students waiting impatiently as Kyle prepares to post the casting results. Joey gets the role of M.O.D.O.C. and Madi gets cast as Squirrel Girl. In the other class, Bri is cast as Kamala Khan, Ery get “Mike” and Jamaul is cast as Bruno. The students all share their excitement for their roles and the opportunity to be a part of these productions. Madi shares an emotional call with her mother over the news as she explains that she never thought someone like her could be a superhero until she saw Squirrel Girl.
The Theater 1 class rehearses for the play as Kyle explains that the lesson this play provides of caring for and believing in yourself is so important for young people to learn. We then get to know Bri a little more as she explains she loved acting since she was a child. She tells a story of going to an art school and botching her first audition. She lost all of her confidence and eventually left the school to go to Brandon. She explains that she felt like she was leaving her dream behind until she met Kyle. Now, she connects with Kamala and feels like she has her dream back.
In the Theater 2 and 3 class, Joey admits that they haven’t really progressed on the show yet, but they all feel comfortable with their characters. Kyle explains that the class is moving along well but the Theater 1 class, being an introductory class, is still getting used to the process. We watch as the class struggles through their rehearsal.
Next, we get to know Ery a little more. She explains that, even though she didn’t pick Drama for herself, she is glad the school picked it for her. She admits she never imagined she would ever be on stage. Ery reveals that she was diagnosed with cancer as an infant. After she beat cancer, her parents split up and she moved to Texas with her mother. She later moved to Florida, where she met her new best friend, Bri.
Now just four weeks out from the show, we meet Karl. Karl’s role in the play is “the guy who makes the tree.” He is the comic relief in this episode, with a couple of very funny appearances.
The sixth period class prepares for Ms. Marvel with an off book rehearsal, meaning the students cannot have their scripts with them on stage. We see them struggle with remembering their lines and Kyle explains to them that they will get better with practice.
Kyle explains that the seventh period class is much more experienced and they’re mostly ready for Squirrel Girl. We get to know Joey more closely, who explains that, as a child, he had to learn Bible verses and if he didn’t memorize them, he would get punished. That gave him a mindset that he has to say every line perfectly, something he struggles with as he prepares for the play.
Back in sixth period, Jamaul sits down with Kyle to go over some methods for remembering his lines. Kyle explains that Jamaul didn’t want to speak to anyone when the class began but has since opened up. Jamaul refers to himself as a shy person who never thought he would have been in a play. He explains that he grew up without a mother and his father would be away for long periods of time for work. We then meet Jaaul’s adoptive brother, who explains that his mother helped Jamaul when his father was away. Jamaul explains that they adopted him and he moved in with them in Brandon. They talk about how Jamaul has slowly gotten comfortable around his new classmates and the idea of being in theater.
Next, we see Madi at a costume fitting for Squirrel Girl. We get to know her more as she explains that she also loved acting ever since she was very young. Eventually though, she started struggling with her body image and doubting what she could be. She explains that seeing Squirrel Girl, a hero who doesn’t fit the typical description of a superhero, woke her up and made her realize she can be whatever she wants.
Sixth period continues to prepare for Ms. Marvel as Bri begins to lose her confidence. Kyle works with her to help build her up and Ery comforts her after she makes mistakes. The students continue to struggle with remembering their lines and Kyle assures them that if they work off of each other, they’ll be fine.
With one day to go until the show, we check back in with Karl and his tree. Fitting in with everyone else in his class, his tree is not quite ready. It’s in two pieces and still needs to be painted. Karl is running out of time to creat a “successful tree.”
Both classes go through dress rehearsals. Kyle explains that these rehearsals have a different energy and help he cast to see what they really need to work on. Jamaul works with one of his scene partners who is have a hard time remembering his lines. He tries to help him to build off of Jamaul’s lines to remember his own. In seventh period, Joey fails to remember his lines and breaks down during rehearsal. Kyle explains that when he gets thrown off, he can’t catch himself. His classmates try to help pick him up.
On the day of the show, we see the students nervously scrambling about as they go through last minute preparations. Kyle explains that she wants them to do the best they can but also just wants them to have fun. Each of the students takes a minute to explain how nervous they are as the shows get closer and closer.
As the auditorium fills up and the lights come on, the students get ready to stop onto the stage. Squirrel Girl is first and we get to see some clips of the show. Everything seems to go off without a hitch as both Joey and Madi portray M.O.D.O.C. and Squirrel Girl perfectly. Joey explains that nothing has to be perfect because “your imperfections are what make you special.” Madi explains that the show went so well because they can all relate to their characters so well.
Ms. Marvel follows up and again we get to see clips of the show. Again, the show goes off without any problems. Bri explains that she gained her confidence back. Jamaul explains that they worked for months and they were prepared. Ery admits that she thought she would mess up or pass out, but she didn’t. Bri admits that playing Ms. Marvel helped her realize that she thinks too little of herself and she shouldn’t.
The show ends and the students finally get a chance to celebrate with their friends and families. Kyle explains that all she wants is to see growth in her students. She admits that this process has helped her to realize how important it is to her that they take something away and learn something more about themselves.
You can learn more about Marvel’s 616 and see recaps of each episode here. All eight episodes of Marvel’s 616 are streaming now on Disney+.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”