Multiverse of Meh

Ms. Marvel’s mutant twist doubles down on a strange Phase 4 problem

Phase 4’s biggest moments have all happened on the small screen. Why?

Ms. Marvel ends with a bombshell.

The Disney+ series’ sixth installment concludes with Bruno (Matt Lintz) telling Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) that he’s discovered a “mutation” in her genes, which may explain how she was able to tap into her superpowers. Bruno’s line, accompanied by the scene’s subtle X-Men: The Animated Series needle drop, sets up Kamala to be one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first mutants.

That makes Ms. Marvel Episode 6’s ending one of the biggest moments in Phase 4 of the MCU, but you wouldn’t know that based on the nonchalant way Ms. Marvel handles it.

Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) has a bright future ahead of her.Marvel Studios

Introducing Mutants — Comic book readers have spent years wondering how Marvel Studios will finally introduce mutants to the MCU, so Ms. Marvel’s mutant twist came as an unexpected shock. However, the series shrugs the moment off, introducing the concept before disregarding Kamala’s mutation as just “another label.”

To call that disappointing would be an understatement, but Ms. Marvel’s lackluster mutant twist isn’t just weak on its own. The scene is emblematic of a growing MCU problem: Marvel is starting to reserve its biggest twists for its Disney+ shows, which is robbing the MCU’s movies of their weight.

The MCU’s God of Mischief (Tom Hiddleston) looks at a statue of Kang the Conqueror at the end of Loki Episode 6.Marvel Studios

Marvel’s Phase 4 Plans — Fans always knew that Marvel’s Disney+ shows were meant to be important in their own ways. WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, for all their faults, followed through on that promise, setting their lead characters up for the next chapters of their ongoing MCU journeys. Ultimately, though, it was Loki that proved just how important the MCU’s Disney+ titles could be.

Loki’s Season 1 finale not only featured Jonathan Majors’ first appearance as Kang the Conqueror, but it also set up a future Secret Wars-esque multiversal conflict. Combined, those reveals made the Loki finale feel noteworthy, especially considering that fans seem to be in agreement that Kang’s multiversal conquest is going to be one of the most important elements of the MCU’s next Infinity Saga.

Comic book readers also agree that the X-Men are, in one form or another, going to play a major role in the MCU’s forthcoming phases. That’s why Marvel’s decision to make Bruno and Kamala’s final Ms. Marvel conversation the MCU’s first major mutant moment is so confounding. Not only is the moment itself played as a throwaway, but it also means that Ms. Marvel and Loki have had the biggest reveals of Phase 4 so far.

Professor X and Mister Fantastic’s cameos in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness felt weirdly weightless.Marvel Studios

The Inverse Analysis — Earlier this year, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness featured appearances from both John Krasinski as Mister Fantastic and Patrick Stewart as Professor X. Their cameos marked the first time that any members of the Fantastic Four or the X-Men have appeared in an MCU title, but their appearances took place in an alternate universe and so their MCU debuts felt weightless.

MCU fans are still waiting for the prime versions of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to show up. While Loki and Ms. Marvel haven’t given fans that, their finales have done the most of any of Marvel’s Phase 4 titles to set up the future of the MCU. The studio’s past several films, meanwhile, have all felt more self-contained and minor than the Disney+ series that are meant to be smaller than them.

While it’s great that Marvel has managed to make its Disney+ originals feel important to the MCU’s future, the studio has also made its own movies feel weirdly inconsequential. Here’s hoping that Marvel can learn how to strike a better balance between the film and TV sides of the MCU moving forward.

Ms. Marvel is streaming now on Disney+.

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