Ms. Marvel is changing the game for MCU TV shows. Gone are the days of movie heroes given one-off adventures in a miniseries; Ms. Marvel is a hero by and for the streaming age, and she’s got the unique story and style to prove it. But there’s one thing the show is missing a third of the way through: An obvious villain.
The closest thing Ms. Marvel has to a threat is something that’s usually seen as an ally in other Marvel projects, or at worst a secondary annoyance. In this show, they finally get the villain edit they’re due.
The post-credits scene of Ms. Marvel Episode 1 introduced Agents Deever and Cleary of the Department of Damage Control, seen previously in Spider-Man: No Way Home. In Episode 2 they work together to interrogate Zoe Zimmer as part of their investigation into a new “enhanced individual.”
But why are they doing this? To make sure Kamala’s under the thumb of the government? To whisk her up into the ranks of the Avengers? Or to keep an eye on her just in case? While their motivation is unclear, it’s obvious that they’re the closest we have to a villain so far.
Never before in the MCU has the government been such an explicit villain. They can be meddling, like when the Sokovia Accords were introduced in Captain America: Civil War, but that movie also argued that probably had a point. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier touched on systemic racism, the mistreatment of displaced people, and the reluctance of white America to accept a Black Captain America, but those were all asides to the chaos caused by the larger villains.
In Ms. Marvel, however, Damage Control uses drones, searches “temples, community centers, and mosques,” and ambushes Kamala at the Eid festival without any due process. The government immediately treats her as a threat, and establishes themselves as major antagonists in the process.
Damge Control’s tactics are representative of the Islamophobia many people face in America. There could be more Marvel-y motivations at play here too: The post-credits scenes of WandaVision and Spider-Man: Far From Home prove that Skrulls are embedding themselves in the government, so maybe one (or both) of these agents are Skrulls looking to weaponize Kamala’s powers for their own gain. But maybe they’re just bureaucrats up to no good.
Either way, this is a Marvel villain unlike any other.
Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+.