Fan theories almost never turn out true. But when they do, the thrill of hitting the bullseye can feel incredible.
In the newest episode of the delightful Ms. Marvel, the origins of Kamala Khan’s (Iman Vellani) powers are finally revealed. No longer an Inhuman like in the comics, Ms. Marvel’s powers actually come from Islamic folklore. More intriguingly, there are also some unexplainable connections to last year’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Spoilers ahead.
In the beginning of Ms. Marvel’s third episode, a prologue set in 1942 shows the excavation of an Indian tomb. Kamala’s great grandmother, Aisha (actress Mehwish Hayat), is in search of Ms. Marvel’s bangles, which she and her colleagues find on a severed arm beneath some rubble.
They not only know what these bangles are, but what they’re capable of. They’re also unable to find both pairs. When they run out of time, Aisha remarks, “One will have to do.”
As the episode later reveals, these characters — and Kamala Khan herself — are Djinn, spirits in Islamic mythology popularly, if somewhat inaccurately, known as genies. Like the Norse deities and Greek gods, the Djinn have found their way to the Marvel Universe.
In the MCU, the Djinn hail from the Noor dimension. The specific group of Djinn Kamala is involved with are exiled rebels known as Clandestines. They only want to return home, and they believe Kamala’s bangles will help them get back.
This leaves some glaring questions unanswered, including “What is the Noor dimension?” and “Why were the Clandestines exiled?” While it’s unlikely Ms. Marvel will answer all of those by the end of its first season, the ongoing nature of the MCU means we’ll probably find out eventually.
Right now, there’s a way bigger question about Ms. Marvel’s origins: What’s the connection between Ms. Marvel and the Ten Rings?
The surprising Shang-Chi connection
In that opening temple scene, an overhead shot of the Djinn reveal they’re actually standing over the symbol of the Ten Rings, the organization ruled by the ruthless Wenwu (Tony Leung).
Effectively, many fan theories about Ms. Marvel’s bangles being connected to Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings were right all along. The specifics, such as where all these objects came from and what they’re actually meant for, are unclear, but the bangles and rings are somehow related.
As Shang-Chi screenwriter David Callaham told Inverse last year, the origins of the Ten Rings were purposefully omitted because it wasn’t an urgent question Shang-Chi had to answer. It’s also an opportunity for Marvel to do something bigger down the road.
As fans who’ve seen Shang-Chi know, the origins of the Ten Rings aren’t revealed, and how Wenwu acquired them is unknown. Similarly, Eternals screenwriters Kaz and Ryan Firpo told Inverse last year that the MCU doesn’t have everything mapped out, but instead cracks open doors to potentially walk through later.
“At Marvel, they’re playing chess,” Ryan Firpo said. “When you play chess your objective is to checkmate the opponent, but you don’t know how you’re going to do it. It’s setting traps to give yourself multiple paths to victory. You’re just creating opportunities to discover.”
As it stands, there’s something big planned for the MCU. Whatever or whoever the next big threat will be, it may also have something to do with Kamala’s bangles and Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings. Remember, they’re both weapons and tools for interdimensional communication; the post-credits of Shang-Chi hinted that the Ten Rings are sending a signal to somewhere in the multiverse.
One of the secret calculations in the Marvel formula is to simply focus on a character’s story, and leave the big picture stuff for bigger movies. Fans may not know about the bangles or the Ten Rings yet, but who knows what will be revealed as the MCU continues to march on.