Disney Plus’ Ms. Marvel The series is one of the MCU’s best recent entries, but Kamala Khan’s new live-action superpowers have been a point of contention for comic book fans concerned about the series’ ability to translate the source material in all media. The main thing about Ms. Marvel comics is smashing stuff with her huge fists. But her polymorphic “fattening” powers are also a metaphor for how Kamala, a Muslim American teenager born to Pakistani immigrants, moves around the world, and the creative team behind Ms. Marvel I really wanted that to be part of the show as well.
In the Marvel comics, Kamala develops the ability to transform her body into a variety of shapes and sizes, but in Ms. Marvelinstead, she discovers that she is able to manifest luminous constructs made of hard light. Although Kamala only came into her powers at the end of Ms. MarvelIn the first episode of , commercials for the series highlighted the different ways she will use them during the season. And while you do seeing her create her signature fists, there was a lot more emphasis on her doing things like creating platforms to walk on and throwing defensive shields.
In a recent interview on the Empire Movie Podcast, Ms. Marvel Lead Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, and Kamala Khan co-creator Sana Amanat talked about some of the thinking that led to the reimagining of Kamala’s traditionally stretchy powers. While El Arbi and Fallah understood that Marvel chief Kevin Feige was looking for a new adaptation of Kamala’s story rather than “literally a translation of the comics”, the directing duo were initially unsure how to approach the hard light concept in a way that would look impressive.
“So we adapted the superpowers, and that was very interesting because the first thing we read was like ‘hard light,'” El Arbi said. “The hard light was like, ‘Okay…that wasn’t really described in detail.’ So it was cool to create this new superpower with the visual effects team.
According to Fallah, their goal has always been to stay true to the spirit books rather than being precious about details because Ms. Marvel is its own similar, but separate, story from the books.
“We still wanted to capture the spirit of the comic — that she doesn’t know how to use this super power — but still have those moments where the hand gets big,” Fallah said. “From a purely visual point of view, it was really cool to play with this light and its crystalline appearance.”
In addition to their metaphorical significance, Kamala’s abilities in the comics are also an important part of how she’s connected to the larger world of superheroes where characters like the Inhumans have played much larger roles compared to to the MCU. In the books, Kamala first comes into her powers after being exposed to a mutagenic mist that activates dormant Inhuman genes in unsuspecting people who are unaware that they are not fully human.
This particular event was already type of covered in ABC now canceled Agents of SHIELD and Inhumans series that effectively ended the Inhumans’ presence in the MCU (except for a surprising Black Bolt cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness). Although Amanat did not specify whether Ms. Marvel will recognize the Inhumans or reveal Kamala as one of them, she explained that it was important for the series to find a way for its hero to have an equally meaningful connection to something greater than herself. -same.
“In the same way that his powers in the comics were really influenced by this big event that happened in the Marvel Universe at the time, we wanted the show to associate Kamala’s powers with something a lot bigger,” Amanat said. “Both in the MCU, but also a connection to some kind of his heritage, his past, his kind of cultural heritage and his family.”
With Kamala, the next appearance in Nia DaCosta’s Wonders alongside Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau, it makes sense that Ms. Marvel would set its heroine in place to fit organically into a story on a more cosmic scale. Amanat echoed El Arbi and Fallah’s sentiment that the “essence” of Kamala’s original powers are still very much present and said we can expect to see them “evolve over the course of the season” in ways to get to the heart of the ideas of the comics.
“But there are some cool things going on with her powers that I find fun and quirky and as fair as she navigates them, and they come across in weird ways,” Amanat said. “I think it’s just a nice metaphor again of his kind of growth and evolution and learning to understand what it means to kind of show up as who you are rather than pretending to be someone. ‘one else.”