It’s the dawn of a new era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Bisha K. Ali’s Ms. Marvel introduces a plucky new hero to the world’s highest-grossing franchise. While the series might not be your traditional MCU outing of gritty fights and macho Avengers throwing their weight around, its whimsical aesthetic is winning over critics.
With Iman Vellani’s upcoming turn as Kamala Khan in The Marvels, and Ms. Marvel potentially being the start of a long tenure in the MCU, everyone is asking how Kamala’s powers work. One thing’s for sure, this isn’t a straight-up adaptation of her comic book counterpart – sorry, no stretchy fists here.
What Are Kamala Khan’s Powers in the MCU?
In the comics, Kamala’s powers are activated by the Terrigen Mist, which allows her to stretch in a similar way to Mister Fantastic and shrink like Ant-Man. Things are different in Disney+’s Ms. Marvel. Even though there’s a nod to her stretchy limbs, Kamala instead conjures cosmic energy and shoots it as different shapes from her body.
In the series, Kamala seems to get her new abilities from a mysterious bracelet that’s sent from her equally mysterious Nani (grandmother). Nani is only mentioned in passing, however, series co-creator Sama Amanat hinted to The Direct that she could be an important player in Kamala’s heroic future. Amanat spoke about “not only linkage to other MCU events, but also to the sense of history that she has and the relationship to her family, linking the powers to her family’s past. I think that was really the bigger idea.”
Is Kamala Khan Secretly A Kree?
Kamala is known for wearing a bracelet in the comics but it possesses no apparent abilities. With a similarly emotional tie to her family, comic book Kamala’s bracelet was used by her great-grandmother to smuggle money out of Bombay during Partition. She later has it modified for a much more 21st Century use, and as a single piece, uses it to carry her cell phone inside.
Nani seemingly takes the place of Kamala’s great-grandmother here, while a throwaway line in the first episode could connect to a much bigger storyline. When discussing Nani, Kamala’s mother calls the bracelet “junk” with a knowing look. Later in the episode, Kamala tries on the bracelet and is transported to a purple-hued dimension that some suggest could be a connection to the Kree Supreme Intelligence. Given that her bracelet also looks similar to the comic book Nega-Bands, this has thrown the theory doors wide open that Kamala could be adopting Carol’s comic book origin and have Kree blood running through her veins.
Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel: Who’s Who in the Cast?
For those unfamiliar, Nega-Bands are a relic of the Kree Empire that grant the wearer the ability to turn mental energy into physical – similar to Carol Danvers’ powers. The bands were owned by Kree hero Mar-Vell, who played a major part in Carol’s origin.2018’s Captain Marvel lets Danvers keep some of her comic book backstory of being a human-Kree hybrid. However, the movie gifted her powers from the Tesseract and then gave her a blood transfusion from Yon-Rogg to become part Kree.
We’re not saying that Kamala has had her DNA merged with Mar-Vell like Carol did in the comics, but it’s clear there’s more to her grandma’s bracelet. We’re already told the bracelet will tie into The Marvels, and remembering Khan will share the screen with Brie Larson’s Danvers in the movie, everything fits together nicely that Ms. Marvel will pick from both of their comics.
Is MCU Handling Each of the Marvels Differently?
Leaning into the idea that the MCU can readapt Danvers’ powers for Kamala, Amanat further connects the dots between Ms. Marvel (a mantle Danvers originally had in the comics) and Captain Marvel in an interview with Time. “She ends up taking on her moniker because she wants to be so much like her and she’s morphing to look like her and we have hints of that in the show too,” says Amanat. “When Kamala gets her powers, what does she do? She tries to act like Captain Marvel.”
The other idea is that Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, and Monica Rambeau’s Photon are all being given their own unique origin story. Remember, Rambeau found herself being supercharged by Wanda Maximoff’s Hex rewriting her DNA. Looking at how Carol’s powers are orange, Monica’s are blue, and Kamala emits a purple glow, it gives the trio of heroes a different set of skills going into The Marvels.
Thankfully, we’re set to learn more about where Kamala gets her abilities. MCU overlord Kevin Feige told Empire, “What we will learn about where those powers come from, and how they come about, is specific to the MCU.” Teasing more of Kamala’s lineage, Feige concludes, “She’s interested in knowing, ‘Great, does that mean I’m an Asgardian? Did I get hit with gamma rays?’ No, it’s seemingly none of those things. It goes to her own past and her heritage and lineage.
Kamala’s brand-new origin can go in a number of ways, but just one episode in and it sounds like Nani and critiques that she lived in a fantasy world just like her granddaughter could be key to the six-episode miniseries.
Much like Thor: Ragnarok used snippets of the Planet Hulk arc and Multiverse of Madness dipped into House of M, we never expected Ms. Marvel to be an exact retelling of the source material. Still, it’s clear we’ve moved with the times. Either way, Kamal’s debut is poised to catapult her to the front of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as an ambitious young rebel who wants to follow in her idol’s footsteps… powers and all.