Marvel Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry cuts into the first Ms. Marvel trailer and discusses some noteworthy aspects.
Drop any Marvel Studios trailer, and there will be an online fervor. Too many eyes out there, too many opinions. They all want their turn to speak. After 14 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you would think we’d be used to the tiny alterations that occur in the translations from comic to screen. Nope. Something’s different from the books — books read by the tiniest fraction of the live-action movie audience — and the anger flows like sewage. We all need to chill.
The reaction to the first Ms. Marvel trailer has been louder than usual, and that’s understandable. Created in 2013 by a cadre of Marvel talent (editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artists Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie), Kamala Khan is Marvel’s first Muslim superhero. She’s an enthusiastic teenager struggling with family life, school life, an intense Carol Danvers obsession, and newfound, extraordinary abilities. Her daily life’s combustible cocktail made her the perfect contemporary successor to Peter Parker, the spectacular soap-operatic Spider-Man.
Ms. Marvel means a lot to a lot of people. Her appearance on the larger MCU stage is a big deal. We want her to be great, because we know she’s great. This anticipation causes anxiety, and that anxiety sharpens our vision as we pour over the trailer. What we find below is not a one-for-one adaptation, and yes, there is a significant change to Kamala Khan’s power-set. We should relax, knowing that our favorite Marvel movies and series, no matter what they are, never mirror their comic book properties. And we do not want that.
What I see in the Ms. Marvel trailer is a damn good time, featuring a character with tremendous potential for the greater MCU. If we pull out a few singular shots, we can understand why certain changes were made regarding Kamala Khan’s superpowers. In the context of what Marvel Studios has built, the differences make sense. The more these movies stack atop their own narratives, the more they’ll diverge from what we currently have in the comic books.
The What If…? series is the best example of this notion. It focuses on splintered realities based on past Marvel Studios properties like Captain America: The First Avenger and Doctor Strange. They were not What If…? stories based on What If…? comics. They took the concept from the books, but that’s basically it.
My faith resides in Ms. Marvel‘s show creator Bisha K. Ali. Her time as story editor on Loki should be proof enough. And if you remove your quibbles of what should and should not be a Ms. Marvel show, what you get in the trailer is undeniably cute, warm, and exciting.
As Kamala Khan, Iman Vellani radiates a nervous, enthusiastic energy. Nothing is missing in that particular area. Aren’t you already deeply anticipating her first brush with Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers? If it doesn’t come in the Ms. Marvel series, it will absolutely happen in the upcoming Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, where she co-stars alongside Monica Rambeau’s Teyonah Parris.
Understanding how these three women relate to each other cosmically will explain why Marvel Studios shifted Kamala’s powers. With that thought glued to our minds, let’s dig into the trailer and scrounge around a bit.
The first Ms. Marvel trailer wants you to know that Kamala Khan is a Marvel nerd right out the gate. The first shot pulls away from her journal, where she’s doodling various scenes, including a battle between Ant-Man and Man-Ant. Beyond her Carol Danvers adoration in the comics, Kamala shares a gleeful fandom for Wolverine. The X-Men are not quite ready for the MCU just yet, so maybe her second superhero crush belongs to Scott Lang? One of the best Ms. Marvel comics (issue #6) features an early gust-appearance by the Canadian mutant, so it would be somewhat in the spirit to see a one-off episode where Paul Rudd fills that role.
Another delight to the trailer is how it represents Kamala’s active imagination, manifesting in comic book panels, sound effects, word balloons, and thought balloons. In the comics, Kamala is a polymorph which means she can alter her size and appearance. When this first occurs in the books, she instinctively transforms into Carol Danvers, exposing her infatuation with the superhero but also her anxiety around self and place.
The trailer makes her fandom the primary internal focus, only briefly acknowledging her family background. In pulling away from Kamala’s polymorphism, concerns arise around eliminating the conversation regarding Kamala’s identity as a Pakistani American.
Why would Marvel Studios ditch Ms. Marvel’s polymorphism? Do they not want a character with stretchy powers to appear before Reed Richards does in Jon Watts’ Fantastic Four? Or are they actually trying to connect Kamala’s skills more closely to what we’ve seen with the characters that share her Marvel moniker?
In the trailer, we witness Kamala strap her signature cuff onto her wrist. It does not seem purely decorative as it sparkles with cosmic juice. Could Kamala’s family have some connection to the Eternals? Or Shang-Chi’s Ten Rings? Connecting her origins to space rather than the Inhumans, as is the case in the books, makes sense on multiple levels.
Kamala’s comic book counterpart gained her skills after exposure to the Terrigen Mists, a mystical source tied to the Inhumans. Considering how wretched their ABC show was, Marvel Studios wants to stay as far away from that rancid reek as possible. The cuff injecting her with space powers a la Carol Danvers’ exposure to the Space Stone in Captain Marvel feels right.
And just because she has new energy powers doesn’t mean we won’t get some signature Ms. Marvel moves. In this shot, we see the MCU version of her embiggened fist. A massive wallop could serve as the big superhero coming out party for Kamala Khan. Whoever just got socked is probably picking up their pieces several states away.
As the trailer wraps up, we get our best look at her official Ms. Marvel duds. They are absolutely comic book accurate, and Iman Vellani looks utterly badass in them. Not only can she form protective force fields, but we also see her firing crystalline projectiles and creating particle platforms similar to Stephen Strange’s spell discs. Could she use this power to propel herself through the air like her idol? Seems inevitable.
The trailer leaves us wondering who’s firing the bullets Ms. Marvel is deflecting. These black ops soldiers could be the rumored villain organization NICE, a new Marvel entity created to reflect the real-world agency ICE. With Nick Fury still in space and S.H.I.E.L.D. struggling after Spider–Man: Far From Home, these low-rent thugs could have the same delusions of grandeur as the S.W.O.R.D. military goons last seen in WandaVision.
A few shots earlier, we spotted some other shadowy figures. If the NICE rumors are true (based on leaked set photos), these folks are very likely ClanDestine, an obscure Marvel group consisting of magic-wielders born from a genie. Think of them as reluctant superheroes, kids who would rather be doing anything else than saving the day. Kamala Khan could be a likely recruit for their gang or an unwelcome foil to their semi-illegal activities.
Whatever their goals, these baddies are Kamala Khan’s first superhero test. Once she passes it, she’ll be on to the big leagues, fighting shoulder to shoulder with her idols. Already, we so want that for her.
Ms. Marvel starts streaming on Disney+ on June 8th.