Why Disney+ is changing Ms. Marvel

Recent promotional art and merchandise suggest that the Disney+ MCU Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan will have key differences from the comic books.

Marvel Studios is apparently changing key elements for Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel of the upcoming Disney+ series.

Promotional material has revealed Ms. Marvel for Disney+ will have key differences to her powers. (Images: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Promotional material for merchandise based on Ms. Marvel have revealed the changes being made to the teen superhero’s powerset. Instead of her comic book counterpart’s polymorphing ability, Kamala Khan will be creating energy constructs.

Why could these changes be necessary? Check out the details that have been revealed so far below.

Who is Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel?

In the comic books, the original Ms. Marvel was actually Carol Danvers. For years, Carol adopted the moniker as a tribute to Mar-Vell, the Kree Captain Marvel who saved her life. She even had a costume that is quite similar to Mar-Vell’s own, before changing to her more famous black and gold suit. Carol would retain the Ms. Marvel name and costume until an adventure with the X-Men and alteration of her powers forced her to change into Binary and join the Starjammers.

On the other hand, the newest Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, a teenager who idolized superheroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, and especially Captain Marvel. Kamala Khan was created in 2013 by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson, and Adrian Alphona. Unbeknownst to the young Muslim Pakistani-American, she had a genetic lineage to the Inhumans, one of the offshoots of Homo Sapiens that are part of the Celestials’ experiments (along with the Eternals and the Mutants) and have close ties to the extraterrestrial Kree.

Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager who idolized superheroes such as Iron Man, Captain America, and Captain Marvel.

After her home city of New Jersey was bathed in Terrigen Mists, her latent Inhuman powers manifested. Kamala gained the ability to transform her body on a molecular level. This polymorphing ability allows her to stretch, change her stature to a smaller or bigger size, and alter her appearance to mimic other people. Her powers also give her an accelerated healing factor, though she cannot use her other abilities while recovering from injuries.

Kamala would eventually choose the superhero life, just like her biggest inspiration, Carol Danvers, and adopt the Ms. Marvel identity. Later on, Kamala would join the superhero community at large, becoming a member of such teams as the Avengers, Agents of Atlas, the Champions, the Protectors, and the Warriors.

The character of Kamala Khan proved to be hugely popular among comic book fans. Kamala is considered one of the best legacy characters, alongside Miles Morales (Spider-Man), bringing much-needed empowerment and diversity to a new generation of comic book readers. Thus, it came as no surprise that Disney and Marvel Studios would be bringing the character to life.

In 2018, Marvel Studios president and chief creative officer Kevin Feige made the announcement of the upcoming plans to add Ms. Marvel to the MCU. Later in the D23 event on August, 2019, the Ms. Marvel series was formally confirmed to be part of the Phase Four projects. It would be one of the Marvel exclusives on the Disney+ platform, along with WandaVision, Loki, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, and What If..?, overseen by showrunner Bisha K. Ali.

Merchandise reveals changes

On October 25, promotional material connected to the Ms. Marvel series was revealed by Pyramid International. Of particular point of interest is the character poster.

Aside from showing what actress Iman Vellani would look like in the Ms. Marvel costume, the poster titled Crystal Smash displays Ms. Marvel’s powers. Unlike her comic book counterpart, the MCU Kamala Khan will not have shape-changing powers. Instead, she will be manifesting energy constructs. The poster itself shows Ms. Marvel creating crystal like energy fists that have a purple, semi-transparent glow.

This is a marked difference on her Inhuman polymorphing abilities from the source material. However, creating energy constructs can still simulate most of the things Ms. Marvel has been able to do, except being able to shrink and/or grow.

Why the change?

There may be multiple factors and reasoning behind altering Kamala Khan’s powers for the MCU version.

For one, Kamala Khan’s ties to the Inhumans will likely be changed. A prior attempt at incorporating Inhumans in the MCU was through the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans TV series. However, there appears to be an unspoken mandate to distance the MCU proper from those shows, more so than the Netflix Marvel shows. The Inhumans show only had a single season and did not meet expectations in terms of critical and fan reactions.

Another potential factor for changing the appearance and nature of Ms. Marvel’s powers is that it is very similar to another Marvel stalwart: Reed Richards (aka Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four). Her ability to change size would also be very similar to the Pym Particle effects shown by the use of Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Cassie Lang (Stature). Given that the Fantastic Four have yet to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would make sense to reserve the shape-changing and elongating power set for the future.

In the original comic book, Kamala Khan is an Inhuman. The MCU version will apparently have a different origin for her powers.

One possible last factor to the decision to change Kamala Khan’s MCU powers is to more closely tie in with her "sisters", Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyona Parris). Since the Ms. Marvel Disney+ series will debut and directly lead to the big screen The Marvels film. Directed by Nia DaCosta, Ms. Marvel will team up together with the other two heroines, so a more energy based set of powers similar to theirs gives them a more visual connection.

This would also make the idea that Kamala’s transformation was induced by her desire to be just like Carol Danvers.

But doesn’t this change her more like a DC superhero?

One comparison that is being made by fans after this adjustment to Kamala Khan’s powers is that it is similar to DC’s Green Lantern.

Although this is true, energy constructs is not unique to DC Comics. In fact, Monica Rambeau is a notable example from her Marvel Comics depictions. Furthermore, another cosmic superhero that is considered one of the heirs to the Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) legacy in the comic books, Quasar, uses energy constructs through the Quantum Bands.

Changing Ms. Marvel’s polymorphing abilities to energy constructs might not appeal to long-time fans. However, it does open other angles and storytelling potential. Moreover, it provides a closer connection to the established MCU continuity while sidestepping the Inhumans ties that Marvel Studios is quietly avoiding.

The official description of the Disney+ Ms. Marvel series reads:

The Marvel Studios original series centers on fan-favorite Kamala Khan — a 16-year-old Pakistani-American growing up in Jersey City. A great student, avid gamer, and voracious fan-fic scribe, Kamala has a special affinity for Super Heroes, particularly Captain Marvel. However, Kamala struggles to fit in at home and at school — that is, until she gets super powers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Life is easier with super powers, right?

Ms. Marvel stars Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Aramis Knight as Kareem/Red Dagger, Saagar Shaikh as Amir Khan, Rish Shah as Kamran, Zenobia Shroff as Muneeba Khan, Mohan Kapoor as Yusuf Khan, Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia Bahadir, Travina Springer as Tyesha Hillman, Matt Lintz as Bruno Carrelli, and Laith Nakli as Sheikh Abdullah. Also starring Azhar Usman and Nimra Bucha in undisclosed roles.

Directed by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, with episodes directed by  Meera Menon and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Ms. Marvel will be a six-episode series coming to Disney+ in late 2022.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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