Ms Marvel: how a Bon Jovi classic soundtracked one of this year's best superhero scenes

Bon Jovi and Ms Marvel
(Image credit: Ross Marino/Getty Images ; Disney / YouTube)

Unless you've been living under a rock in another dimension over the past few weeks, you've probable noted the endless hype around Metallica's Master Of Puppets making a star turn in the latest season of Netflix's blockbuster horror/sci-fi series, Stranger Things

So overwhelming has been the hysteria over Eddie Munson smashing out those iconic riffs, in fact, that you'd be forgiven for missing the numerous other times a major TV show has utilised rock music in a fun way this summer. Not only did another legendary Metallica song get used in a recent episode of Westworld, but Marvel's latest, universe-expanding TV show, Ms Marvel, has produced one of the funnest running music gags in recent memory - and it all centres around rock mega-weights, Bon Jovi.

The show, which has been a little overlooked in an increasingly busy TV sci-fi landscape that has recently included Stranger Things, The Boys, Westworld and Obi-Wan Kenobi (a shame, because it's a great show and you should absolutely watch it), centres around 16-year-old Pakistani-American student Kamala Khan, played brilliantly by Iman Vellani in her first major role. 

Kamala, a superhero superfan with a particular fangirl-ism for Captain Marvel, discovers a powerful secret within her family that sets her on her own path to superpowered shenanigans. The show has received praise both for its charismatic cast and for its depiction of Pakistani-American culture and the history within it.

So, where do Bon Jovi fit into all of this? Well, early on in the current season, Kamala's parents, Muneeba and Yusuf (played by the excellent Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur), reveal that they are total Bon Jovi fanatics, Muneeba even admitting that her and Kamala's father might never have met "if it wasn't for Slippery When Wet" (much to the immediate and hilarious disgust of Kamala's older brother Aamir).

Bon Jovi and their music get name-dropped a few more times throughout the show from that point in - and one pivotal scene in particular utilises the band's most famous song to spectacular effect.

During Episode 3, a wedding takes place featuring a Pakistani Bon Jovi covers band going by the name of Brown Jovi (yes, we checked and no, sadly, they're not real), who tease a few moments of 1992 hit Bed Of Roses as the party picks up (there's also an awesome wedding dance segment around this point, but that's for another time). Bed Of Roses isn't the song that steals the show, however; without spoiling it too much for those that haven't seen the episode yet, things suddenly go south, a bunch of baddies turn up and a brilliantly-choreographed fight scene ensues, all soundtracked to no less than Livin' On A Prayer.

It's one of the best TV moments of the year, and it turns out that the song's usage in the scene - and, indeed, Bon Jovi's surprising presence in the show - are rooted in its setting in good ol' New Jersey.

"I think he means a lot to people from New Jersey," Ms Marvel director Meera Menon tells PopSugar, noting that she's actually a huge fan herself and went so far as to personally write Jon Bon Jovi a letter to get permission to use the band's music in the show. 

"I wrote a little letter to Bon Jovi explaining how big of a fan I was," she says. "I went to his concerts at Giant Stadium when I was a teenager. I wrote that he means a lot to immigrants. [The] connection to American pop culture and American pop music that immigrants have is really strong and meaningful. Using his music in the show felt really necessary to tell the story of this immigrant family from New Jersey."

Despite having a wealth of Bon Jovi bangers to pick from for the fight scene, Menon says that Livin' On A Prayer, while perhaps being the most obvious choice, simply made the most sense: "Livin' On A Prayer, is, of course, about two scrappy kids from New Jersey trying to survive under what feels like impossible odds, which makes it the perfect song for Jersey girl Kamala."

It wouldn't be the last time the spirit of Bon Jovi was summoned in Ms Marvel, either - even in last week's penultimate episode he gets a mention, as Muneeba quickly corrects her mother/Kamala's grandmother, Sana (Samina Ahmad), during a story about Muneeba running away when she was 17.

"She ran away to follow that star, Bruce Springsteen," Sana notes. "Please don't put all these lies into my daughter's head, okay?" replies Muneeba. "It was Bon Jovi!"

The final episode of Season 1 of Ms Marvel is streaming now on Disney+. Any further Bon Jovi references are yet to be confirmed. 

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.