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There aren’t many teenage superheroes in the MCU—at least, not yet. Everyone's aware of Peter Parker, also known as our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Plus, there’s the recent addition of Kate Bishop in Hawkeye, although she’s actually a college student. A young superhero is long overdue, and this June, we’re finally going to see Ms. Marvel shake things up.
First introduced in 2013, 16-year-old Kamala Khan takes on the Ms. Marvel mantle, which was originally claimed by Carol Danvers, who in the MCU is actually Captain Marvel—so there’s no overlap. As a newer addition to the comic book (and MCU) realm, though, Kamala couldn’t be the same as most superheroes we’ve seen before: white, traumatized, and based in New York City.
Instead, she comes as a breath of fresh air—a Pakistani-American from Jersey City, New Jersey. Her main struggle isn’t being 100 years old and out of time like Captain America, or trying not to be a jerk like Iron Man (that’s what he struggles with, right?). She grapples with growing up, and balancing familial and cultural pressure while working on accepting herself for who she is. It’s a modern superhero for a modern world, where comic books are shamelessly read by people from all sorts of backgrounds, and not just 10-year-old boys.
It’s the perfect time for a Ms. Marvel comic, and as Marvel Studios is putting to the test, a perfect time for a Ms. Marvel television show. Kamala Khan (played by the charismatic Iman Vellani) now has her own show on Disney+. The first episode premiered on June 8. She'll later appear in the upcoming sequel to Captain Marvel, The Marvels (which will be directed by Candyman's Nia DaCosta).
Here’s everything we know about Kamala’s powers in the comics, and what changed in the show.
What are Kamala Khan’s powers in the Marvel Comics?
In the comics, Kamala is an Inhuman whose powers are activated when a mysterious mist spreads through the city. She quickly discovers she has healing powers, and can shapeshift and polymorph, meaning she can stretch her body at will, like Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic (Fans theorized the change was due to this similarity, as Elite Daily reports). Or, for non-Marvel fans, like Elastigirl in The Incredibles. Kamala's suit is specifically made so she can stretch at will, and it's notably the first invention she gets from her friend Bruno. She often "enbiggens" or shrinks herself to defeat villains, and notably fights with an enlarged fist.
When Polygon spoke with G. Willow Wilson in 2019, the Ms. Marvel creator said it'd be a struggle to bring Kamala's abilities to the screen. "God bless them trying to bring that to live action; I don’t know how that’s going to work out in a way that doesn’t look really creepy.”
What are her powers in Disney+'s Ms. Marvel?
Possibly to deviate from Mister Fantastic whenever the MCU decides to debut the Fantastic Four, Kamala's powers have changed. In the Season 1 premiere, Kamala actually gets her powers from a magical bracelet (which kind of, sort of, looks like the rings from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Right? Bueller?). She can walk on air, create a magical fist (similar to her comic book fist), and create a shield. No stretchy limbs here, and no word on whether she can heal herself or not.
Talking to The Direct, co-creator of Kamala Khan and Ms. Marvel TV producer Sana Amanat says the change actually came down to how they wanted to tell the story, not any likeness to Mister Fantastic. "I mean, from my understanding, it was kind of linked to the type of story that we wanted to tell with Kamala, and 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."
What are the bangles in Ms. Marvel?
In the comics, there is a "compartment bracelet" her inventor friend Bruno modifies to hold small items. It's also a family heirloom, passed down from Kamala's great-grandmother who used it to store cash while escaping Bombay during Partition. The show looks like it's trying to keep to Kamala's comic origins as much as possible, since she discovers bangles in a box her mother insists is full of junk. The heirloom isn't just a trinket, though. In Ms. Marvel, Kamala dons the bangles to personalize a Captain Marvel cosplay she's wearing for an AvengersCon competition (which before you ask, no, it's not a real thing). When she goes on stage as a contestant, her accessory activates...something...which makes her shoot crystalline shards and inadvertently causes mayhem at the convention.
As the season goes on, we'll no doubt learn more about who owned the heirloom, and how Kamala's family past relates to the powers she has today.
In the meantime, check out the release date schedule so you don't miss a single episode of Ms. Marvel.
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