Ms. Marvel in the MCU: Moving Beyond Her Inhumans Origins

TJ Dietsch
TV Comics
TV Comics Marvel MCU

Since her 2013 debut in Captain Marvel #14, Kamala Khan has grown into an important and beloved character in the Marvel Universe. A first-generation Jersey City resident growing up with a family of Muslim Pakistanis, Kamala faces a variety of challenges on and off the battlefield as Ms. Marvel.

After cameoing in Captain Marvel #14 and #17, the new Ms. Marvel debuted in All-New Marvel Now Point 1, but then her real story began being told in her self-titled book and has been going ever since. Last month, a Disney+ live-action series starring the character was announced at D23 Expo which was met with a great deal of excitement, though there were also some questions given her comic book connection to some previously introduced Marvel live-action characters: The Inhumans.

The Inhuman Condition

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Inhumans first appeared in Fantastic Four and went on to become one of the more complex races in Marvel’s history. Created long ago as an experiment by the alien race known as the Kree, the Inhumans boast a variety of powers thanks to their exposure to a transformative element known as the Terrigen Mist. In the modern era, the race had been lead by a Royal Family consisting of Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Karnak, Lockjaw, Triton, Gorgon, and others.

The Inhuman Royal Family

For years, this process took place mainly in the confines of their city, Attilan. However, during a battle between the Inhumans and Thanos, a bomb went off releasing Terrigen Clouds in the atmosphere. If a person with latent Inhuman DNA came into contact with the airborne mist, they would find themselves in a cocoon and eventually emerging with incredible powers. Which is exactly what happened to Kamala in the first issue of her ongoing series…

Making Her Way In The World Today

In Ms. Marvel #1, readers met a young woman hanging out with her friends in a convenience store in her neighborhood. She’s a big fan of superheroes — especially Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel — who argues with her parents about hanging out with other kids, especially boys. She snuck out and went to a party only to find herself surrounded by the Terrigen Mist. After breaking out of the cocoon that encased her thanks to the Mist, she was surprised to realize she looked exactly like her hero Captain Marvel.

Ms. Marvel

Eventually she came to realize that her latent Inhuman DNA reacted with the mist which gave her the ability to control the shape of her body. Kamala took on the identity of Ms. Marvel, one of Carol Danvers’ previous superhero names (which Carol herself eventually approved of), and used her powers to keep her neighborhood and community safe, as well as the whole world.

Episodic Predecessors

Disney+’s Ms. Marvel will not be the first TV series to feature Inhumans or even star one. The group came to prominence on the small screen with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC. Chloe Bennett’s Skye debuted in the first episode of that show in 2013 and was eventually revealed to be the Inhuman Daisy Johnson, otherwise known as Quake. The comic book connection between the Kree (themselves first introduced to the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy) and Inhumans was established in the series and the group came to prominence as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D continued, with Quake even leading an Inhuman group called the Secret Warriors at one point.

However, S.H.I.E.L.D. did not feature the familiar Royal Family from the comics. They instead debuted on the ABC series Marvel’s Inhumans in 2017. At the end of that show’s eight-episode run, Attilan was destroyed and the Inhumans had to find their way out in the world. While that could easily be referenced by the Disney+ series, it should be noted that Inhumans was not well received nor was it brought back for a second season – but even if it was a success, there’s reason to believe Ms. Marvel would never mention it.

The TV Inhuman Royal Family

Historically speaking, while some Marvel Cinematic Universe characters and concepts have made their way to the small screen, the flow of ideas has not gone the other way (Edwin Jarvis Endgame cameo aside). And notably, unlike previous Marvel TV series, Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige are directly producing the Disney+ series, including Ms. Marvel, making it very unlikely that we would see those previous shows suddenly be incorporated into these new Marvel Studios-branded shows.

If they decided to remove the Inhuman origins of the character altogether, Kamala could gain her powers any number of ways, including your standard superhero-origin science accident (a la Daredevil, Spider-Man, Hulk, etc.). More likely though is going with a direct alien explanation/cause, similar to her hero Captain Marvel.

Like Carol, Kamala could gain her powers thanks to the cinematically established Kree, thereby bypassing the Inhumans aspect but still giving a bit of a nod to it, given the Kree/Inhumans connections in both the comics and on TV.

An Up And Comer

Since her 2013 debut, Ms. Marvel has not only grown to become popular with fans, but also as an increasingly important part of the Marvel Universe. She repeatedly teamed-up with other heroes, but moved up to the big leagues when she joined the team in All-New, All-Different Avengers. Eventually, she became disillusioned with the way adults dealt with the world’s problems so she and a group of other young characters formed The Champions.

Though this will be Khan’s live-action debut, the character has appeared in a variety of animated series already. Ms. Marvel debuted in the Disney XD Avengers Assemble series and became a regular in the third season. Voice actor Kathreen Khavari portrayed her on that show as well as Kamala’s appearance on Spider-Man as well as the ongoing Marvel Rising initiative which also features Squirrel Girl, America Chavez, Patriot, Ironheart and others.

Ms. Marvel and her Marvel Rising crew

It’s interesting to note that there have been a number of younger characters with potential introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as of late. Avengers: Endgame included an older Cassie Lang (Ant-Man’s daughter,  who eventually became the superhero Stature in the comics) and we know her fellow comic book Young Avenger Kate Bishop will be introduced in the Disney+ Hawkeye series. Throw in other possibilities like Spider-Man (well… he might be more difficult moving forward), Ms. Marvel, and the unexpected appearance by Iron Man 3 wunderkind Harley Keener in Endgame, and it looks like you could be halfway to a team of young heroes.

Even if that doesn’t happen, there are always the potential ties between Kamala and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel to explore moving forward onscreen, which seems especially promising given Kevin Feige directly mentioned at D23 Expo that Ms. Marvel will definitely be making her way into the films after we meet her in the series.

TJ Dietsch writes about all things geeky, from comics and collectibles to horror and...comics.