Kamala Khan's Powers in MS. MARVEL, Explained - Nerdist
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Kamala Khan’s Powers in MS. MARVEL, Explained

In the Ms. Marvel comics, Kamala Khan has a specific set of powers. She can shape her body at will. She can flatten herself to be paper thin to sneak into the smallest crevices. Or make her fist the size of a small car. In the Ms. Marvel TV series, however, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel powers seem to have been changed from the comics. At this point, Kamala Khan exhibits a power set similar to Captain Marvel with some tenets of her comic powers. The light that emanates from Kamala can be hardened and shaped to look like elongated limbs or enlarged fists. So, why did Kamala Khan’s comic powers change for the Ms. Marvel show? Let’s take a deeper look at the powers of Ms. Marvel in both the comics and the TV show for answers.

How Ms. Marvel Got Her Comic Powers

A still from Ms. Marvel's latest trailer shows Iman Vellani as Ms Marvel looking in shock at the camera
Marvel Studios

So how did Ms. Marvel get her powers in the first place? In Ms. Marvel (2014) #1, Kamala Khan was on her way back from a party she snuck out to attend. A strange green Terrigen mist surrounded her, turning her into Ms. Marvel… or at least the white and blond with blue eyes version that she desired to be. The Terrigen mist transformation happened because she’s an Inhuman, one of a race of humans with Kree (alien) blood who frequently had special abilities. This is the beginning of her dream superhero journey after being an Avengers fan for years. 

Kamala’s powers in the comics were integral to her exploration of her identity. As she became more familiar with her rather freaky-looking powers, she also became secure and confident in being herself.

Ms. Marvel and Her TV Show Powers (So Far)
Cool shot of Ms. Marvel's powers
Marvel Studios

In the MCU, Ms. Marvel gets her powers a little differently. During Ms. Marvel‘s first episode, we see Kamala find a bangle that belonged to her nani (grandmother). After adding it to her Captain Marvel cosplay at AvengersCon, Kamala Khan’s eyes glow and she ends up causing quite the onstage spectacle. So far in the Ms. Marvel TV series, Kamala’s MCU powers include shooting out almost crystal-like formations and enlarging parts of her body when necessary. Of course, this is all quite shocking to Kamala and her bestie Bruno.

Instead of connecting her powers to her identity through how they change her body, MCU Kamala Khan seems to be on a path to discover her heritage through that bangle from her nani. We are only one episode in, but we will surely get to know more about Ms. Marvel’s powers. She obviously cannot control them at this point and doesn’t understand what’s happening to her. All she knows is that these powers are “cosmic.” And that’s cool enough.

In the show’s second episode “Crushed,” we learn a little bit more about why Kamala’s family history is something Muneeba wants to hide. Yusuf tells the story of Muneeba’s mother, who followed a “trail of stars” back to her father after she got lost on the train to Pakistan after Partition. Apart from changing the origins of Kamala’s powers from her being an Inhuman, the series now seems to be drawing a connection between her powers and the events of Partition, and how they triggered a change in Muneeba’s grandmother.

Evidently, it seems Kamala’s powers are still connected to her identity but through her heritage. And it was heavily influenced by what her family went through during Partition, considering the amount of rumors that flew around about Muneeba’s family after it. We also get to see a bit more of how her powers work. She can use her light to make hard stepping stones to run/jump across as well as bridge-like structures. And, she adorably calls it “hard light.”

Who Are the Djinn and How Do They Connect to Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel?

Episode three really shows us what Ms. Marvel can do with her fledgling powers. And we learn a bit more about her great-grandmother’s past. It turns out Aisha as well as Kamran’s mother Namja (and a few of their associates) were from another dimension and wanted to use the bangle’s powers to get home back in the 1940s. They are called many names, but commonly known as the Clandestine in the Noor dimension and the Djinn. In the Marvel Comics, the Clan Destine are a group of superpowered beings who were descendants of a Djinn. It’s not clear now much the show will lean into that but it is a light reference at best.

According to Kamala’s dad, the Djinn (also spelled Jinn) are “supernatural beings of pre-Islamic folklore.” The Djinn are sometimes called genies while others are demons. There is a legend of a group of hidden Djinn who were exiled from their home and made to spend their days in our dimension. They move in shadows looking for the key—a primordial power—to get them home. Well, that’s certainly Namja and her associates, the Djinn group who appears to be the villains in Ms. Marvel. (At least, for now.) And Kamala is in possession of the key while presumably being someone of the Noor or some other dimension.

When Kamala put the bangle on, the Djinn sensed the presence of Noor (“light”) and found her. So, what happened to the other bangle? Right now, we don’t know. Anyway, we find out that while Kamran is protective over Kamala, his family is willing to risk her life to use the bangle for interdimensional travel. They burst into her brother’s wedding and we see Kamala work with her powers, punching and light stepping her way to safety. It looks like trouble surrounds our lovely girl.

Why Did Kamala Khan’s Powers Change for the MCU’s Ms. Marvel?
Kamala Khan smiling at her new powers in the Ms. Marvel teaser trailer (1)
Marvel Studios

There was speculation that the change in Ms. Marvel’s powers is because of their similarity to Mr. Fantastic, a.k.a. Reed Richards, and his body shifting abilities. But Sana Amanat, a co-creator of the character and Ms. Marvel TV producer, sort of debunks this common thought in an interview with The Direct.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” said Amanat. “I don’t think so. I mean, from my understanding, it was kind of linked to the type of story that we wanted to tell with Kamala, and not only linkage to other MCU events, but also to the sense of history that she has and the relationship to her family, linking the powers to her family’s past. I think that was really the bigger idea.”

Additionally, Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios) told Empire that Kamala Khan’s powers will be connected to her heritage. The combination of Kamala’s heritage and link to bigger stories in the Marvel universe makes sense. Kamala is a huge fan of Captain Marvel in both the comics and the TV show. And her next MCU appearance will be in The Marvels, along with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau. Having some connective tissue between Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel while still allowing this new hero to lean into her unique identity sounds like a solid approach.

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan making a fist.
Marvel Studios

Fans may be apprehensive about how the MCU will handle Kamala’s powers and the exploration of her identity. Right now, it is too early to judge whether the changes will somehow take away from the self-acceptance journey that was vital in Ms. Marvel’s comic story. But, there’s a chance to really lean into Kamala’s connection with the women in her family as she understands more about her maternal lineage.

One of comic Kamala’s most heroic choices was to be herself instead of the blond-haired, blue-eyed Captain Marvel she tirelessly admired. And, based on what we have seen from Kamala so far, it looks like Ms. Marvel’s big choice will involve embracing her heritage to understand the source of her MCU powers… and herself. The major choice Kamala may have to make is to embrace her heritage and understand more about where her powers came from. 

Originally published on June 8, 2022.

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