After a brief sizzle reel last year, fans have finally gotten a closer look at Ms. Marvel with the release of the first full trailer for the upcoming series. The series follows Kamala Khan, a young Muslim teen and die-hard fan of Captain Marvel, as she comes into possession of a set of nega-bands that grant her the ability to harness cosmic energy and create constructs.
The MCU has tweaked the origin and details of Kamala's powers somewhat, though fans have been promised that the spirit of the character will remain the same. Let's take a look at Kamala Khan's origin and power set from the comics, the reason behind the changes in the show, and why these changes give the character a greater tie to the history and legacy of the hero she idolises most.
Ms. Marvel's powers in the comics
In the comics, Kamala Khan is an Inhuman, one of many to gain powers after her dormant Inhuman genes were activated by exposure to the Terrigen Mists. After exposure, Kamala's body becomes super elastic and malleable, giving her the ability to stretch long distances, as well as alter her size and body mass. Her flexibity also grants her the power to completely alter her appearance. In early Ms. Marvel stories, Kamala completely alters her appearance into that of Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, her idol. Kamala also posesses superhuman stength, durability, and accelerated healing, however unlike some other characters with regenerative powers, Kamala is left fatigued if she needs to heal excessively.
Choosing the name Ms. Marvel in honour of her idol, Kamala quickly gains Carol's acceptance, and even her endorsement to join the Avengers. However, after disagreeing with Carol over her treatment of Miles Morales, the second Spider-Man, Kamala leaves the Avengers with a group of other young heroes, including Miles and Sam Alexander, the second Nova, and soon form their own team, the Champions.
What has changed in the Ms. Marvel TV series, and why?
The Ms. Marvel TV series seems to have removed Kamala's Inhuman origins, and her 'stretchy' ability. Instead, Kamala gains the power to harness and create constructs from cosmic energy after taking ownership of a pair of mysterious Nega-Bands. In some cases, as in a shot in the trailer in which Kamala strikes a villain with an enlarged energy-fist extending from her own arm, these constructs may be used to visually replicate some of Kamala's comic book powers.
The removal of Kamala's Inhuman backstory likely stems from the fact that Inhumans and the concept of the Terrigen Mists could be too complicated to explain to more casual viewers. The fact that the 2017 TV series Inhumans failed to find an audience probably didn't help. Meanwhile, many fans believe Kamala's elasticity was considered too similar to the super-stretchy powers of Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, a character also on his way to the MCU in the not too distant future with the planned Fantastic Four film.
As it turns out, Kamala gaining her powers through the Nega-Bands may work out better for the MCU from a narrative standpoint, as it gives Kamala a link to Carol that goes beyond hero-worship.
How, you ask?
The Mar-Vell Legacy
In the comics, Mar-Vell, a Kree Warrior and the original Captain Marvel, wore a pair of Nega-Bands, a standard issue weapon for his people at the time. After Mar-Vell was trapped in the Negative Zone, the Bands would let him briefly switch places with a human friend, Rick Jones, and also allowed him to convert excess psionic energy within his body into enhanced strength, speed, durability, and the ability to fly. Carol Danvers receieved her powers in a plane accident involving Mar-Vell, becoming the first Ms. Marvel, and years after Mar-Vell died of Cancer, took up the Captain Marvel mantle in his memory.
In the MCU, Mar-Vell is reimagined as a woman, played by Annette Bening. She was a Kree Scientist working to save the innocent Skrulls from Kree persecution. While posing as Dr. Wendy Lawson, Mar-Vell befriended Carol Danvers, then a Pilot, and hired her to test fly a new jet containing a the Pegasus engine, created with the power of the Tesseract, an Infinity Stone. It is the destruction of this engine that results in Carol receiving her powers.
Some fans are speculating that Kamala's Nega-Bands originally belonged to or were created by Mar-Vell. If so, this may put Kamala on Carol's radar, leading into the two of them teaming up with Monica Rambeau, who also gained powers of her own during the events of WandaVision, in the upcoming Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels.
But before Carol can meet Kamala, it's the MCU fans' turn. Thankfully, the wait isn't too long. Ms. Marvel lands on Disney Plus in June.