In its third episode, Ms. Marvel finally begins to uncover the truth about Kamala’s powers. We knew the show adapted her powers, their origins weren’t yet clear. But we start to get an inkling this week as the MCU continues its path into the mythological. We’d already considered that Kamala might have powers connected to the Djinn, and Ms. Marvel episode three introduces a deep cut comic book team that many fans likely won’t have heard of. So let’s talk about ClanDestine, Djinn, and how they connect to Ms. Marvel.
Who Are the ClanDestine in Marvel Comics?
Even if you’re a massive Marvel fan you might not be familiar with the team. Created by Alan Davis, their story was teased in 1994’s Marvel Comics Presents #158 before taking on their own titular solo series that same year. In those comics, the group is a secret immortal family of superpowered beings descended from the Djinn. The characters are hardly a top tier Marvel team but their introduction here makes sense with the connection to the Djinn.
Who Are Ms. Marvel‘s MCU ClanDestine?
Here we meet ClanDestine as a group of exiled Djinn, who Kamala’s great-grandmother Aisha was trying to help get back to their dimension during partition. They all have powers and seem to be immortal, or at least able to live for a long time. As Kamran’s mother Najma explains, the group known as the “Clandestines” are from the Noor Dimension. That’s not a Marvel Comics location but we can assume it’s the spiritual plane we saw Kamala visit when she first used her powers. We also learn that the bangle was an artifact that Aisha and Najma were hunting to help the Clandestines get back to their own dimension. And that there should be two of them.
While Ms. Marvel’s Clandestines appear as allies first, by the end of the episode they’ve shown that their desperation to get home outweighs any kinship they feel with Kamala.
Though their story massively differs, there are also nods to the original ClanDestine team here. We meet a character called Aadam this week, who is almost certainly a nod to the main ClanDestine patriarch and leader, Adam Destine. There’s also the connection to the Djinn, far better handled in Ms. Marvel than in the original ClanDestine comics.
How Are the ClanDestine Connected to Djinn in Marvel Comics?
The ClanDestine are revealed to have gotten their powers from a Djinn in ClanDestine #5. As the title “Genie-Ology” might hint, it’s a less than respectful representation. It’s a disappointingly orientalist story with some pretty racist characterizations. This issue introduces us to the history of the ClanDestine beginning with Adam Destine. After Destine was impaled on a tool he was brought back to life by a mythical power. Cut to the Crusades, there Adam is enlisted to find the ancient power of the Djinn. It’s being protected by a man named Sujaan—one of the worst characterizations in the book—and Adam destroys him and the crystal where he was imprisoning the Djinn. When she’s freed, the Djinn is so grateful to Adam that the pair make love, creating the ClanDestine bloodline.
The Origins of the Djinn in the Real World
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a Djinn is “a spirit inhabiting the earth but unseen by humans, capable of assuming various forms and exercising extraordinary powers.” You might know them better by the term Genie. That’s thanks to The Thousand and One Nights, a collection of Middle Eastern and Indian stories, which introduced the tale of Aladdin. Not every Djinn is a wish-granting creature, though. They can also be tricksters or even seen as demons. But the reason that they’re most relevant in Ms. Marvel is that Djinn are referenced in both Arabic literature and the Qurān. So it’s a smart way of tying Kamala’s powers back to her culture. Also, the bangles could hold another Djinn connection.
As anyone who has read Aladdin will know, Djinn can live in inanimate objects. While Kamala’s powers seem more cosmic in origin—the arm the bangle was retrieved from was blue, which could be of alien or Djinn origin, as the Djinn have been blue in Marvel Comics—it’s possible that instead of the Djinn dwelling in the band, the band instead unlocks the power of Djinn relatives. We’ll have to wait until Kamala heads to Karachi next week to find out.
Is Ms. Marvel Connected to ClanDestine in the Marvel Comics?
No, in the comics Kamala gets her powers via Terrigenesis, making her an Inhuman. But that origin was always going to change in the show. Instead, this connects Ms. Marvel to a lineage of heroes, and one that if treated respectfully can be interestingly woven into her own culture. This fits into the Marvel Studios tradition of taking a problematic or badly thought out representation from the past comics and reimagining it to be something more interesting and relevant.
Another interesting thing to note is that during the X-Men: Clan Destine event, the villain is an extra-dimensional demon called Synraith. The nefarious foe was trying to crossover to Earth. Seeing as Kamala’s bangle (and its currently missing twin) can open portals to other dimensions, this seems like it could come into play.
Featured Image: Marvel Studios