The first episode of Ms. Marvel, the next Marvel Cinematic Universe series on Disney Plus, will arrive for streaming soon and will be six episodes long. The show introduces the MCU’s first Muslim superhero, 16-year-old Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani. What secrets about the character appear in the panels of Marvel Comics, and how might they affect the MCU adaptation? The Watcher knows, and so will you after reading this primer!
The final issue of the Captain Marvel run that began in 2012, Captain Marvel (2014) #17 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Filipe Andrade, Jordie Bellaire, Joe Caramagna and Joe Quinones featured a last-page appearance by a character located in Jersey City: Kamala Khan.
While she only appeared on the final page of this issue, she soon got her own series, beginning with Ms. Marvel (2014) #1 by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Ian Herring, Caramagna, Sara Pichelli and Justin Ponsor, and edited by Sana Amanat. In that issue, Kamala was exposed to the Terrigen Mist, a vapor causing dormant Inhumans to mutate and gain superpowers.
After having a vision of several Avengers, including Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, Kamala emerges from the mist as an exact duplicate of Carol’s (blonde-haired, blue-eyed) Ms. Marvel.
However, Kamala soon began to gain better control over her abilities. After a few issues, instead of shapeshifting into someone else’s appearance, she developed her polymorph abilities. In other words, she appeared as herself while “embiggening” parts of her body at will (with her fist proving an especially effective option) or becoming a giant-sized version of herself.
But a better understanding of her identity did not negate her affection for Captain Marvel. As she became better known for her heroic exploits, she wrote fan fiction about Carol and other familiar superheroes in her spare time.
These parasocial relationships only made it more exciting as she moved up the heroic ranks. As the curtain rose on her next solo series, Ms. Marvel (2015) #1 by Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Alphona, Herring, Caramagna and Cliff Chiang; Kamala was often fighting along with the Avengers she idolized.
The origin of Khan’s powers may be very different in the MCU than the Marvel Comics. This may be partly because the Inhumans have not played a prominent role in what is currently considered the canonical MCU.
While they were the focal point of several seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the solitary season of Marvel’s The Inhumans, both produced by the now-defunct Marvel Television on ABC, these shows have been largely ignored by MCU canon.
The trailer for Ms. Marvel on Disney Plus suggests the MCU may avoid Inhuman continuity altogether by altering the origins and nature of Kamala’s abilities for her adaptation to the MCU. Furthermore, we may have already seen a connection between the MCU Ms. Marvel’s skills and the power wielded by another MCU hero: Shang-Chi (Simu Liu).
In the mid-credits sequence for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Shang-Chi and Katie (Awkwafina) join Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong) in the Sanctum Sanctorum. They question why the Ten Rings seem to have activated a beacon deep in space. Also present at the meeting are Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson).
The MCU might use the Nega-Bands as the source of Kamala’s powers. This still means her ability has its roots in Kree technology since the Nega-Bands are ancient Kree relics, and the Inhumans are the result of ancient Kree tampering with the human genome. However, it does seem like this will mean Kamala’s powers will present somewhat differently.
In Marvel Comics, the Nega-Bands are Omega Class Weapons, considered in league with the hammer of Thor, a.k.a. Mjolnir, and the Cosmic Cube. Captain Mar-Vell, who eventually chose to get rid of them, originally wielded the Nega-Bands. One of them became the wedding bands used for the marriage of Wiccan and his husband Hulkling.
In 2019’s Captain Marvel, Annette Bening played Mar-Vell, and she worked at an Air Force Base on the Cosmic Cube. After Mar-Vell’s path crossed with Carol’s, the latter became imbued with superpowers due to exposure to the Infinity Stone-powered Cube. Is it possible Kamala and Mar-Vell will have a similar relationship through the Nega-Bands?
One element of Kamala’s character from Marvel Comics seems to remain intact in the Disney Plus adaptation: her affection for established superheroes. In one scene of the teaser, Kamala is wearing what appears to be a homemade t-shirt featuring the likenesses of Captain Marvel, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly).
The future of Ms. Marvel
After the MCU version of Ms. Marvel is introduced, we’ll see more of her in The Marvels, the July 2023 film featuring Larson’s Captain Marvel, Vellani’s Ms. Marvel and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau.
We saw a younger version of Rambeau interact with Carol in Captain Marvel. In 2021’s WandaVision, an older version of the character gained superpowers after repeatedly crossing the border of the Hex cast by the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) around the town of Westview, New Jersey.
Rambeau harbored complicated feelings about her relationship with Carol, which should create exciting tension compared with Kamala’s apparent hero worship of the Avenger.
In addition to her appearance in the upcoming The Marvels, plenty of Marvel Comics plotlines could provide fertile ground for future storylines for Kamala. One possibility is the story that began in Champions (2015) #1 by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, Edgar Delgado and Clayton Cowles.
This arc sees Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man: Miles Morales and four young next-generation characters (including Amadeus Cho, the Totally Awesome Hulk) becoming disillusioned with the established superheroes and striking out on their own in an attempt to be better.
Another possible storyline spins out of the one-shot Outlawed (2020) #1 by Eve L. Ewing, Kim Jacinto, Espen Grundetjern, Cowles, Pepe Larraz and David Curiel. This story showcases a disaster involving a dragon and the Champions outlawing teen superheroes by legislation known as “Kamala’s Law.”
Finally, the recent five-issue arc that began with Ms. Marvel: Beyond the Limit (2021) #1 by Samira Ahmed, Andrés Genolet, Tríona Farrell, Caramagna and Mashal Ahmed saw Kamala entangled in a multiversal adventure wherein she played a role in a universe that was like a Bollywood Musical!
The truth is more complicated than that, but the storyline would be amazing to see in live action. Plus, Eternals (2021) already established a connection between Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani) and several generations of Bollywood Musicals, so the overture for this story may have already begun.
Wherever Kamala goes in the MCU multiverse from here, her story begins with the first season of Ms. Marvel, streaming on Disney Plus on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
This article was originally published on May 6, 2022.
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