Marvel Studios conquered television at the beginning of Phase Four, with the success of their Disney+ original series: WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki, What If…? and Hawkeye. The next series coming to Disney+ in the summer of 2022 will introduce Marvel fans to a new young avenger – Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel.
This marks the first time Marvel Studios has created a show based on a character that has not shown up in the Marvel movies. Mainstream fans have never heard of Kamala Khan, although she has been a massive success in the comics.
Since her debut in Captain Marvel #14 (2013) by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kamala Khan quickly became the first Muslim Pakistani American superhero to lead her own series when G. Willow Wilson began writing Ms. Marvel in 2014.
Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel’s Origin
Kamala Khan was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. She is the daughter of immigrants Yusuf Khan and Muneeba Khan and has an older brother Aamir. She is a massive fan of the Marvel superheroes, specifically Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel, the former Ms. Marvel).
She has two best friends, Nakia Bahadir and Bruno Carrelli. She lived an ordinary life very similar to Marvel fans, making her relatable and a prevalent character in Marvel Comics. But everything changed for Kamala when she got her powers.
How does Kamala Khan become Ms. Marvel in Marvel Comics?
Kamala Khan is what is known as an Inhuman. The Inhumans are genetic off-shoot of humanity like the mutants or X-Men. However, they are the result of experimentation by the Kree, the alien race from Captain Marvel (2018). Their powers are revealed after exposure to Terrigen Mists, contained within Terrigen Crystals.
Once an Inhuman comes into contact with Terrigen Mist, they undergo a process called Terrigenesis. They are encased in a Terrigen cocoon and go through a metamorphosis that can have any number of strange results. There are Inhumans whose bodies became transformed entirely – such as Eldrac the Door.
Kamala Khan went through Terrigenesis after sneaking out of her hour to go to a party on the Jersey Waterfront after being teased for being an outcast by Zoe Zimmer, who would go on to become her close friend.
During her transformation, Kamala saw a vision of three of her favorite superheroes – Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Steve Rogers/Captain America, and Tony Stark/Iron Man. Carol asked Kamala what she wanted from life, and she felt she wanted to be more like Captain Marvel and emerged from her cocoon transformed into Carol Danvers in her old Ms. Marvel costume.
What makes Kamala Khan important?
Kamala might not have been around as long as characters like Bruce Banner/Hulk or Peter Parker/Spider-Man, but she has made a significant impact on fans as Ms. Marvel. Her original series was a breakout success.
She came at the time when Marvel Studios did not have the rights to the X-Men, so the comics were making a push to focus more on the Inhumans, including a failed television series. Of all the stories that were introduced, Ms. Marvel was immediately the star. The demand for her first issue was so high it had seven printings, selling 75,280 physical copies.
Kamala Khan and what she represents has been a blueprint for Marvel’s Phase Four push for diversity. Marvel has always strived to put character and representation first, and it has paid off for them in a big way.
How does Ms. Marvel fit into the Marvel Universe?
The Marvel Universe is clearly building up its next roster of Avengers in the Young Avengers. They have already introduced Cassie Lang/Stature (Kathryn Newton), Billy/ Wiccan (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy/ Speed (Jett Klyne) in WandaVision, Eli Bradley/Patriot (Elijah Richardson) in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, (Kid Loki (Jack Veal) in Loki, Kate Bishop/ Hawkeye (Hailee Steinfeld) in Hawkeye and America Chavez/ Miss America (Xochitl Gomez) will debut in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (May 6, 2022).
Kamala was not an original member of the Young Avengers team; she was a generation behind them and was on the Champions team with Miles Morales/Spider-Man, Sam Alexander/ Nova, and Riri Williams/Iron Heart. However, she did team up with America Chavez and Patriot in the animated shorts Marvel Rising.
She will also be featured in The Marvels (February 17, 2023) alongside Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). However, not much is known about the plot of the Captain Marvel sequel.
Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel’s Powers and Abilities
Every Inhuman has their own powers and abilities. Kamala Khan is what is known as a polymorph, which gives her a wide variety of skills. This included morphogenetics, or the ability of her cells to mutate and change. Kamala has the powers of elongation to stretch her limbs, size alteration, an accelerated healing factor, and the ability to shapeshift.
She has some tools at her disposal, created by her friend Bruno. He developed a super flexible polymer called “super snot” that he used to make her suit, which is based on a burkini. Bruno also modified her bangle bracelets with hollow compartments to hold her cell phone. The bracelets were passed down to Kamala’s by great-grandmother Aisha, who used them to smuggle money out of Bombay during Partition and were worn by her mother, Muneeba Khan.
What is Kamala Khan’s Greatest Strength?
While her stretching ability is often compared to Reed Richards/ Mister Fantastic, and her size-changing power is compared to Scott Lang/Ant-Man. However, Kamala’s powers are actually a form of time travel. She can share her mass through time with different versions of herself, which allows her to change size with her “embiggen” power.
Her Inhuman ability to change her form exceeds both Mister Fantastic and Ant-Man. She even glows yellow energy while using her morphogenic powers. Kamala Khan is very clever in how she uses her powers which has allowed her to become a great heroine in her own right.
Does Kamala Khan have any weaknesses?
Kamala does not use her shapeshifting ability to alter her appearance anymore. Her original transformation into Carol after getting her powers was traumatic for Kamala. She came out of the experience realizing that she could be proud of herself and her heritage and vowed never to pretend to be someone she was not ever again.
This was recently retconned in the comics in Ms. Marvel Beyond the Limit #1 (2021) by Samira Ahmed and Andrés Genolet to the fact that she had lost that power. This received some backlash after the revelation that her powers would be changed when she came to the MCU. Marvel fans see this as the first attempt in the comics to erase her origin.
She is also weak to electromagnetic pulses, which can disrupt her stretching. And her healing ability has its limits, she was once left hospitalized after a building collapsed on her.
What is Kamala Khan’s Biggest Accomplishment?
Kamala Khan is so famous because she always stays true to herself. After her introduction, when she swore off shape-shifting, she has proven that she knows exactly who she is and what her worth is. During Civil War II (2016), she chose to stand against her idol Captain Marvel.
She joined the Avengers for a while and, despite being a significant fan-girl, chose to walk away because she did not like how they only focused on fighting big villains, leaving smaller events unresolved. She would go on to form her own team of young supers – The Champions.
During the events of Outlawed, she was injured and almost chose to reveal her secret identity after she was used by anti-hero politicians to create Kamala’s Law to ban young heroes. She strives always to save lives, even those of villains, no matter the cost to herself.
Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Kamala debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Phase Four. Anticipation for the MCU’s first Muslim superhero was high back when it was first announced at Disney Investor Day 2020. But like much of the shows that have been in the works, they were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eagerness turned to trepidation as more was revealed about the version of Kamala Khan that Marvel Studios was working on. The biggest controversy is changing the way her powers work and how they would appear.
When will Ms. Marvel debut in the MCU?
The Ms. Marvel series was initially expected late in 2021, before Hawkeye. It was then pushed to early 2022, then sometime over the summer, and most recently has been speculated to arrive on Disney+ as late as Q4 between October and December.
The series will star newcomer Iman Vellani as Kamala. Laurel Marsden will play Zoe Zimmer, Matt Lintz will play Bruno, and Yasmeen Fletcher will play Nakia. Marvel received criticism after casting Fletcher as Nakia as she is not Muslim. Similarly, Zenobia Shroff was also called out for being a non-Muslim Indian playing Kamala’s Pakistani Muslim mother.
Where else will Ms. Marvel show up in the Marvel Universe?
After her series, Kamala already has another appearance scheduled in Phase Four. She will meet her idol Captain Marvel in The Marvels on February 17, 2023. Kamala Khan was not alive during the events of Captain Marvel; Carol Danvers would have inspired her during the events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
The Marvels will put Kamala face to face with another character who idolized Carol in her youth – Monica Rambeau. It has not been revealed what threat will bring these three together. Zawe Ashton is playing an unnamed villain, and Jude Law is rumored to be returning Yon-Rogg. Also returning is Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Who is Ms. Marvel’s mentor?
While Kamala has idolized Carol Danvers since her origin story, Captain Marvel has not done much to take the young hero under her wing. The two have had a falling out after the events of Civil War II. Though she has seen Captain Marvel as a mentor, there has been another surprising hero who took it upon himself to look after her and some of the other young heroes in the Marvel Universe.
That was Tony Stark/Iron Man. He gave Kamala a lot of advice about balancing her life as a New Jersey teenager and her superhero dreams. Tony’s death inspired Kamala, Sam Alexander, and Miles Morales to form the new Champions team.
How will Kamala Khan be changed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
The Ms. Marvel show has been met with a lot of backlash from fans as they have made some changes to her character. This is far from the first time that Marvel Studios have made drastic changes to a character’s powers – Sam Wilson/ Captain America, the superhero formerly known as Falcon, can talk to actual birds in the comics.
However, Kamala’s powers have a deep meaning for her and her origin story. It was only by rejecting the shapeshifting ability that she showed how she was able to stay true to herself no matter what.
What will Kamala Khan’s powers be in the MCU?
It appears that Kamala’s shapeshifting ability will be completely erased in the MCU. The released sizzle showed that showrunner Bisha K. Ali has reimagined the scene with Kamala cosplaying as Captain Marvel before getting her iconic superhero costume.
Official artwork revealed that this was not the only change being made to Kamala’s powers. Her morphogenetic powers are gone, replaced by glowing constructs. One moment in the sizzle even shows her flying.
Why were Ms. Marvel’s powers changed for the MCU?
Marvel has not revealed why her powers were changed. This had led to rampant speculation on the part of the fans. Some think the change is to make her less like Mister Fantastic and Ant-Man, notable white male superheroes who will play significant parts of Marvel’s Phase Four Plans. Defenders have said this could be for budgetary restrictions for a television show making both effects hard to pull off.
Coincidentally, the change also makes her more visually like her. The Marvels costars Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau, both of whom glow while using their powers. However, fans will not be happy if any of these explanations are valid as Kamala’s origin story centered around how she was unique and was happy to be so.
How do fans feel about the change to Kamala Khan’s powers?
To say that fans are upset would be an understatement. The hashtag #FixMsMarvel has been trending. One rumor from the production is that they will be changing the origin of her powers to be that her grandmother’s bracelets are magical. In the Muslim religion, magic is considered haram or forbidden. The backlash increased when the show suggested that Ms. Marvel might be a Djinn, which was very offensive to Marvel viewers.
This controversy, coupled with another backlash the show has faced from its casting of non-hijabi actresses, has put Ms. Marvel in a perilous position. The show was already facing an uphill battle by focusing on a young woman of color that mainstream audiences are not familiar with, and angering the existing fanbase could spell doom for the show.
Let us know in the comments if you want to know more about Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel.