Warning! This article contains spoilers for the whole of Ms. Marvel!
Ms. Marvel is the latest MCU show to premiere on Disney+, introducing Kamala Khan and her new powers, but just how does she get her abilities? Ms. Marvel certainly introduced a lot about Kamala’s character, from her Pakistani-American background to her school life to her fandom of the Avengers, specifically Captain Marvel. Episode 1 laid the groundwork for her character, and by the end of Episode 6, the show had provided the origin for Kamala’s MCU powers. The story behind Kamala’s powers remained a key question going into Ms. Marvel episode 2 and beyond. Ms. Marvel was initially revealed to be a Djinn, however, in the finale, Bruno discovers that Kamala Khan is actually a Mutant. Here’s what that means for the MCU Ms. Marvel powers, and how they differ from the comics.
The concept of Kamala’s powers in the MCU has been a major talking point since it was announced that Ms. Marvel would somewhat alter the titular character’s powers from Marvel Comics. Ms. Marvel’s power change was wrongly controversial within the MCU fandom, with many stating that her powers being changed may affect what works about her character. However, lots of this negative reaction came before the show even aired, with the question of just how her powers would be given to her given the change from the comics slipping under the radar. It’s also worth noting that in the comics, Kamala is an Inhuman. As far as acquiring her powers go, she has the same story as almost every other Inhuman – Terrigenesis. Her comic book origins aren’t as unique or character-specific as some of the angrier corners of online fandoms made out. Aside from the failed ABC series Inhumans and Black Bolt’s Phase 4 cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the complex Inhumans don’t have much of an MCU presence. As Ms. Marvel proved by the time all six episodes were available, Kamala’s MCU powers are actually much more unique and tailored to the rich background and life story of the fan-favorite Marvel hero.
From episode 1, audiences saw their first glimpse of the new range of MCU Ms. Marvel powers. In the MCU, her powers have been changed to operate using a more cosmic power source, mainly to give Kamala a closer connection to her idol Captain Marvel. Kamala was shown to be able to create cosmic, crystalized platforms and projectiles that could also cause the extension of her limbs, differing from the comics which saw Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel extends her own limbs without cosmic energy projections. The MCU changed Ms. Marvel from a Mr. Fantastic powerset to something akin to a Lantern from DC Comics when it came to the visuals. The aesthetics of Ms. Marvel’s powers weren’t the only change, as the way in which they’re given to her differs between both mediums. In the comics, Kamala Khan is an Inhuman, but MCU Ms. Marvel is a mutant.
How Ms. Marvel Gets Her MCU Powers
The MCU sees Kamala get her powers in Ms. Marvel episode 1 through a family heirloom. Early in the episode, Kamala is presented with a package filled seemingly with junk from her grandma. Upon searching through this package, Kamala finds and takes interest in a bracelet. This bracelet is what grants Kamala her powers in the MCU. With Ms. Marvel’s MCU powers change, she can now create floating platforms, throw giant energy fists, and even “embiggen” herself (a term her comic-book counterpart uses to describe the size-change aspects of her powers). As Ms. Marvel progresses, it’s revealed that the family heirloom is a link to the mysterious dimension of Noor, and it’s by channeling the light energy of the Noor dimension that Kamala gets her powers. Partially, at least. Kamala is revealed to be a Noor-wielding Djinn like Kamran, Najma, and the other Clandestines, but in the finale, she’s also shown to be special even within her already special family. Kamala Khan is a mutant. Just how her mutation interacts with the bangle and Noor will be key questions to explore in The Marvels or Ms. Marvel season 2.
The family heirloom is key to how the MCU Ms. Marvel powers work. When Kamala puts the bracelet on, an energy-like forcefield surrounds Kamala. This is when she discovers her powers, activating them out of fear and necessity. The bracelet opens a connection to Noor, which is also known as the Light Dimension. It’s a dimension of the multiverse filled with light energy, and Kamala channels this while using her powers, explaining why her abilities in the MCU come complete with a glowing purple energy effect they don’t have in the comic books. The Ms. Marvel post-credits scene shows the bracelet has another ability when it switches Kamala with Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. Not only does this set up The Marvels, in which Ms. Marvel will join Captain Marvel’s Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau, but it also hints at a possible link between The Light Dimension and Captain Marvel or implies that the bracelet is actually a Kree Nega-Band, given that in comic canon this has the ability to switch the places of two wearers across the universe (as seems to have happened in the Ms. Marvel post-credits).
The bracelet is only one side of MCU Ms. Marvel’s powers, however. As revealed in the finale, she is a mutant. It raises new questions about her powers and mutant abilities: Is it the bracelet or her X-Gene that allows Kamala to channel Noor energy? Ms. Marvel does a fantastic job of delving into Kamala’s cultural and family heritage in Pakistan and as a Muslim woman in America – all of which is represented by the bracelet and the journey it takes her on. The mutation aspect has huge implications here too, and it will be exciting to find out how Kamala’s newfound identity as a viable MCU X-Men candidate interacts with her current understanding of herself and her place in the world.
How Ms. Marvel Gets Her Powers In The Comics
The way Kamala gets her powers in the comics, however, is very different. In Marvel Comics, Ms. Marvel is actually an Inhuman, a race of altered human beings resulting from experiments on prehistoric humans by the Kree. Kamala’s Inhuman abilities, however, were dormant in the comics. That was until the Terrigen Mist awoke her Inhuman abilities, and Kamala’s Inhuman powers were activated. The Terrigen Mist is a mutagen, arising as a vapor from the Terrigen Crystals, which can alter Inhuman biology, leading to Kamala’s latent ability being activated. This is obviously very different from the MCU show, with the Inhumans not even being mentioned in Ms. Marvel. Kamala’s transition to a mutant pretty much marks the final nail in The Inhumans MCU Coffin.
However, the MCU show eventually revealing that Kamala’s bracelet activates dormant powers within her did at least make the gap between her comic and live-action origins smaller. Mutants and Inhumans are different, but Ms. Marvel’s powers still partially come from dormant genetics, although in the MCU this is an X-Gene rather than Inhuman ancestry. Kamala in the MCU is instead the first confirmed mutant on Earth-616. The core of Ms. Marvel‘s story remains the same though, regardless of the specific genetic fantasy pseudoscience. The only real change beyond the aesthetics is the characters her mutant heritage is likely to bring her into contact with. Given how different the MCU is from the Marvel Comics universe by this point, Kamala’s supporting cast would have been wildly different even if she were still an Inhuman.
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All episodes of Ms. Marvel are streaming now on Disney+.
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