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Ms. Marvel Episode 5 flashback reveals the MCU's changed attitude to real history

A real-life tragedy takes the spotlight.

Many MCU characters have dealt with tragedy. Wanda lost her family, Tony was held captive, Steve saw decades slip away. But all of these events are fictional. So much of the terror of the MCU is fantastical, like Kate Bishop losing her dad in the Battle of New York or Karli Morgenthau being displaced by the Blip.

Ms. Marvel is changing this with a flashback episode documenting a real historical event, educating Marvel fans on an important act that’s often overlooked by the western world.

The Partition of India is complicated and nuanced, and still influences geopolitics today. But, in short, when India gained independence from the British Empire in 1947, the subcontinent was divided into two states, with borders loosely drawn along religious lines. The new state of Pakistan was created as a nation with a majority-Muslim population, while India became a non-Muslim majority republic. At the time, Pakistan encompassed the northwest of the subcontinent, and part of the region of Bengal, in the east of the subcontinent (Bangladesh). India lay in between.

Kamala’s grandmother Sana was saved thanks to her mother Aisha’s bangle.Marvel Studios

Real lives don’t change just because a map is redrawn, and the displacement of millions led to a refugee crisis, abductions, terrorism, and religious violence that is thought to have consumed as many as a million people. It’s an incredibly painful moment in history and one that still reverberates today. There’s a reason Kamala Khan’s mother, Muneeba, says “Every family has a Partition story, and none of them are good.”

Instead of the pain in Kamala’s family being rooted in their Djinn identity or the powers of their cosmic bangle, the source is the trauma of a real cataclysm that countless people are still dealing with. This isn’t a superhero origin story; it’s a story of survival that also happens to have superhero elements.

Kamala’s flashback told her the story of Aisha, her great-grandmother.

For Kamala, seeing these events through a spectral time travel scene lets her literally live the moment alongside her grandmother. While we’ve seen MCU characters placed against the backdrop of world events before, like when Steve Rogers fought in World War II, this isn’t the crux of Kamala’s story. Instead, it is a facet that enables her to understand where her family comes from and what they went through.

Now that Kamala has “met” Aisha, she can carry out the work her ancestor began and defeat the Clandestines before they destroy the Veil and conquer the world. And while this would be her mission regardless, Kamala’s personal connection to Aisha and her family’s history adds a greater element to the fight for Ms. Marvel and the audience.

Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+.