Since debuting in 2013 in the pages of Captain Marvel #14 and gaining her own solo series in 2014, Kamala Khan—aka Ms. Marvel—has become something of a phenomenon. The Jersey City teenager, known for her fangirl tendencies and her adoration of the Avengers (notably Captain Marvel) has gone from breakout comic character to fan favorite, appearing in everything from animated television shows to her own upcoming Disney+ series. So it’s not surprising that when Marvel Games recently unveiled the sixth mystery playable character in Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Marvel Entertainment’s upcoming Marvel’s Avengers game, it was revealed to be none other than Kamala herself.
And she’s not just there to entice players to smash with her embiggening powers—though, as Crystal Dynamics narrative designer and Marvel’s Avengers writer Hannah MacLeod noted at a press event, “these powers introduce a dramatically new element and make her combat aspiration feel so unique.” Kamala is very much the centerpiece of one of most anticipated games of the year. “She’s our games’ protagonist,” revealed MacLeod. “You’ll experience our Avengers story through her unique perspective.”
As part of a private demo session, Nerdist had a chance to play Kamala at a training level—and we had a blast. While each superhero feels unique to control and customize, being able to use the character’s embiggening powers, stretching abilities, and punching strength added a whole new level of fun to the game.
Marvel/Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics
Kamala comes into the picture as a bystander at A-Day, primed and excited to cheer on her heroes. Her life turns upside-down as the attack from Taskmaster exposes Kamala to the terrigan mist that awakens her Inhuman abilities. Five years pass after the events in San Francisco. In that time, superheroes become outlawed, the Avengers split up, and AIM takes charge of the world. Frustrated, lonely, and concealing her powers, Kamala seeks out Bruce Banner in an attempt to bring the Avengers back together.
“The world decides that unchecked superheroes are too dangerous to exist,” explained MacLeod. “But Kamala believes the Avengers were framed; she will stop at nothing to prove that people with powers deserve a place in this world, including her.”
While some have taken issue with the game for its different visual portrayals of the heroes best known as their Marvel Cinematic Universe counterparts, the emotional components of the characters ring true to the Avengers we’ve come to know and love—and Kamala is no different. (In the game trailer, she even sips her Slurpee noisily in the car, without any regard for the Avenger sitting next to her.) “She still writes fanfiction. She still knows everything there is to know about the Avengers; and yes, Captain Marvel is still her favorite,” said MacLeod. “That is something she and her players will have in common—they love these heroes.”
That real world relatability is a large part of what has made the Pakistani-American hero so popular. Sure, we might not all be teenagers or Inhumans, but we know what it feels like to idolize our heroes. We know what it’s like to not have our family members understand us. And we know what it’s like to just want to be ourselves without judgement from others. It’s also something that actor Sandra Saad, who voices Kamala in the game, sees as incredibly important.
Marvel/Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics
“I feel like everyone’s got their struggle, every single person. And you don’t realize your heroes do too because you put them on such a pedestal,” Saad told Nerdist during an interview. “And I think that’s really important to take away from all of them. Because you see Thor’s struggle and Widow’s struggle and everyone has got their own. You’re looking up and you’re like, okay, these are superheroes, these are my heroes but they have the same kind of struggles as I do.
“Kamala, she’s got her own stuff going on. She’s a first generation American who doesn’t fit in; her parents are strict and don’t really get the Avengers, but she loves them so much. I’m a fangirl, I’m a huge geek about stuff, and my family doesn’t necessarily connect. So I feel like everyone can find that in Kamala. I don’t know one person who has never felt left out or misunderstood or not accepted.”
Marvel’s Avengers releases May 15, 2020, on PC, Stadia, Xbox One, and Playstation4.
Image Credit: Marvel/Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics