Are you blinded by the lights? That’s not The Weeknd you’re seeing. It’s Kamala Khan, the newest hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But her origins may be a little different than they were in her comic books.
In the trailer for Ms. Marvel, which comes to Disney+ on June 8, New Jersey teenager Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) awakens to powers that may come from a special relic. Inspired by her idolization of Captain Marvel, Kamala takes up her own identity as Ms. Marvel.
But what are the biggest changes for Ms. Marvel as she leaps from comics to screen? We break down the specifics of what the MCU is doing differently.
What Happened? — A superhero epic with high school drama mixed in, Ms. Marvel ruminates on the significance of a Pakistani Muslim becoming a Marvel superhero. Fearing her own anxieties, Kamala says, “Maybe they’re right — I spend too much time in fantasy land. It’s not really the brown girls in Jersey City who save the world.” But as Kamala will learn, some fantasies become reality.
You can watch the trailer below.
Rewritten Origins — One of the biggest changes for Kamala Khan is her origin story. In the comics, she gets powers after a Terrigen bomb goes off in New York City during the events of the 2013 Marvel crossover Infinity. The Terrigen Mists unlock dormant “Inhuman” alien genes in everyday people, which grants them superpowers.
As the Mists spread across the Hudson to Jersey City, Kamala contacts them after leaving a high school house party she wasn’t supposed to attend. She begins to hallucinate visions of her favorite superheroes — including Captain Marvel — and awakens the next day with polymorphing superpowers.
Ms. Marvel, the TV show, is embarking on a different route. While it’s unknown how Kamala will get her powers, the trailer implies they come from cosmic-enhanced bangles. Kamala’s powers have also changed; in place of shapeshifting, she now has cosmic-based energy that makes her more like Captain Marvel, although the series pays homage to her original powers in how Kamala can project “embiggened” fists.
The show appears to place greater emphasis on Kamala’s bangles, which in the comics were her great-grandmother’s wedding bangles. In 1947, Kamala’s family escaped anti-Muslim violence in Bombay, and the bangles were used to safely smuggle the last of their money.
As a superhero, Kamala mostly wore the bangles for sentimental reasons. But in the MCU, her family’s jewelry may become the source of what makes Kamala so special. The trailer for Ms. Marvel implies as much, with text that reads “The future is in her hands.”
The Inverse Analysis — Much like the Ten Rings, Kamala’s bangles have been reimagined in a way that both suits her story and creates new avenues for visual storytelling. Her powers not only makes her symbolically closer to her idol Carol Danvers, but her comic book polymorph powers would have been difficult to portray on-screen. It’s a smart choice to change her abilities, and Ms. Marvel’s own creator, G. Willow Wilson, agrees with the changes.
“I think there’re some characters who are very much set up for the big screen; they’re very naturally sort of cinematic,” Wilson told Polygon in 2019. “But with Ms. Marvel, we really weren’t interested in creating something that had very obvious film potential ... She’s got very comic booky powers. 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.”
As for the rest of the series, the energetic synths of The Weeknd’s biggest hit scores Kamala’s story in a way that makes it feel exciting but still down to Earth. Kamala’s powers may be alien, as we’ll likely learn. But that doesn’t stop Kamala from having homework and crushes.
Ms. Marvel will begin streaming on Disney+ on June 8.