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Ms. Marvel Premiere Reveals Super-Powered Baubles, Family Crises, and an Avenger's Podcast

The latest Marvel series kicked off with introductions to the colorful characters who make up Kamala Khan's fantastical Jersey City life, but no villain — not yet.

by | June 10, 2022 | Comments

Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) is finally part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And while it is clear she’ll charm everyone before the first season of Ms. Marvel is through, every piece of the Marvel Studios experiment also leads to other ideas, characters, and events. So let’s take a look at the program’s first episode and dive into some of the possible new revelations (and blind alleys) awaiting us as Kamala begins her journey to superheroing in the stars alongside the likes of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) in 2023’s The Marvels. Will Jersey City prepare her for that adventure? Let’s find out.


Spoiler alert: The following reveals details about the first episode of Disney+ series Ms. Marvel. If you have not yet watched “Generation Why,” stop reading here if you wish to avoid spoilers.


Checking in With the GRC and Other Worldwide Events

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in MS. MARVEL,

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Despite their importance in the year following Avengers: Endgame, the Global Repatriation Council is not mentioned or referenced anywhere in the first episode of Ms. Marvel. The lack of the GRC is worth noting as, presumably, the series occurs after the December 2024 dates of Hawkeye. If that’s the case, then it is possible the GRC wound down in the wake of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. That’s a good thing for people within the MCU overall, and it also dates Moon Knight to sometime in 2023 as GRC ads still adorned London buses in that series.

And although the series continues the studio’s tradition of setting its shows in ambiguous times (other than WandaVision, of course), Ms. Marvel introduces one new bit of lore we think is key: the climactic battle in Endgame is known as “The Battle of Earth.” The appellation definitely speaks to the scale of the fight. You also have to imagine those watching it take place from Manhattan (or Jersey City) definitely saw it as a battle for the planet.

It still leaves us wondering how the Avengers spun it when they inevitable talked to the press or what sort of cover stories world governments imposed on them. From shows like Hawkeye, it is clear Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) stated goals are common knowledge and both Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Natasha Romanov’s (Scarlett Johansson) sacrifices public. But what else is known? Do people just accept aliens as everyday fact? Are the Kree more than just conspiracy podcast fodder?


Iman Vellani and Matt Lintz in MS. MARVEL

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/©Marvel Studios)

Kamala is clearly more in the know than most thanks to Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) podcast, but how much of that is government approved under penalty of returning to the Raft? Or will we discover in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania that he is producing his show from undisclosed locations to avoid arrest? Perhaps he is the last thing the GRC must deal with before shutting down.

That also leads us back to Kamala’s passion for Captain Marvel. How much time does Carol spend on Earth, particularly during the five-year gap? We get the impression Kamala and her family were not Blipped, so some of her devotion must come from that timeframe. Or, as the AvengersCon suggests, her occasional appearances on Earth inspires a very particular devotion.


The Nega-Bands and the Kree Connection

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in MS. MARVEL,

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

We mention the Kree for a very good reason: the bauble Kamala’s grandmother sends to her is clearly some sort of Kree artifact. Or, at least, we’re making the assumption as it resembles the nega-bands used by the original comic book Captain Marvel. According to Marvel Comics lore, they convert thought into a form of tangible energy even as they had a habit of trapping people in the Negative Zone — a dimension of great importance to the Fantastic Four. Users of the bands could manifest enhanced strength, flight, teleportation and other abilities.

That could still be the case for the bauble, but we also suspect it may be utilizing something untapped within Kamala and, at a crucial moment, she will learn to tap into it unaided. It is a tried-and-true hero’s journey kind of thing after all, and Kamala is definitely following that map. Also, we’re not willing to let comic book Kamala’s Inhuman origins go just yet and this would be a great way to soft-reboot the concept for further use.

Meanwhile, we have to wonder how Kamala’s grandmother came into possession of it. Does she know what it can do and does she suspect Kamala is capable of something extraordinary? Does a history of something Inhuman — or a Kree ancestry — run in the family?


Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur in Ms. Marvel

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/©Marvel Studios)

It may partly explain the attitude of Kamala’s mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff). When she first sees the bauble, her expression is one of absolute terror. When she later admonishes Kamala for not being as serious as she would like, she mentions knowing someone whose love of fantasy brought them to a fall. Granted, that sort mothering is prevalent in a lot of cultures — which is why we imagine Muneeba’s words will strike a certain chord for a lot of viewers and why she might seem like the primary antagonist — but it could also speak to some secret she is absolutely holding back from Kamala.

That ambiguity definitely leads to something akin to Skylar White Syndrome. Muneeba isn’t saying anything out of turn — although she does brush up against a certain type of manipulation in a few scenes — but her opposition to Kamala’s love of superheroes and more Western ideas sets her up as an antagonist force. It isn’t the sort of villainy we’re used to in Marvel stories, but it is an interesting tension as Muneeba is genuinely worried about Kamala and her future. The catch for the show is presenting her with more depth and depicting a bond between her and Kamala that feels less lopsided. At the moment though, she definitely reads as an absolute downer and something obstructing the program’s more adventurous, lighthearted and successful aspects.


Are There Skrulls About?

MS. MARVEL

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/©Marvel Studios)

Alternatively, it is always possible Muneeba is a true villain — a Skrull infiltrator to be precise. To be fair, we doubt this is the case as the relationship between Kamala and her mother feels so central to the plot, but as Secret Invasion inches ever closer to the release schedule, it is clear someone in one of these shows has to be an alien in disguise.

So let’s take a look at the possible suspects this time. Both Bruno (Matt Lintz), Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher), and Zoe (Laurel Marsden) seem unlikely. If we take the Skrull marching orders from the comic book Secret Invasion, then there is an incentive to position Skrulls in all facets of human society. But the tactical advantage of replacing high schoolers is harder to determine, even if part of the plan is influencing teen-driven social media toward their aim. Also, within the context of Jersey City, replacing one of the children seems like a waste of resources. On the flip side, Bruno is tech savvy and Zoe’s following make them a little bit suspect.

Replacing the school guidance counselor, Mr. Wilson (Jordan Firstman), could prove more useful as he has the power to direct students toward certain careers. Also, his inability to speak to the kids in any authentic way makes him a likely suspect for a Skrull. Then again, it also makes him a typical TV guidance counselor.


Iman Vellani and Saagar Shaikh in MS. MARVEL

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/©Marvel Studios)

Then there’s Kamala’s father, Yusuf (Mohan Kapur), and brother, Aamir (Saagar Shaikh), who — by virtue of having fewer scenes — could easily go either way. That said, would a Skrull posing as Yusuf feel as wounded as he does when Kamala reacts poorly to the father-and-daughter Hulk costumes?

Also, while we’re speculating wildly, one of the aunties out in the community could easily be a Skrull.

And if it seems odd to mention the Skrulls here, it is something to consider as the episode lacks for an obvious villain. The previous live-action shows debuted with (in no specific order) the Tracksuits, a band of alleged terrorists using a version of the Super Solider Serum, the TVA — although one could make the case that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is still the bad guy in the Loki premiere — and Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn). A personification of the threat the hero will face usually appears in episode one. And yet, there isn’t really one here in Ms. Marvel‘s debut. Also, for Secret Invasion to work as the event it is supposed to be, people in the shows preceding it have to be Skrull agents and revealing one or two should start soon.


The Department of Damage Control Is on the Case

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in MS. MARVEL,

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/©Marvel Studios)

Of course, it is always possible that Damage Control, at long last, will be the true antagonist in a Marvel Studios production. Introduced as a superhero disaster clean-up crew in the comics, the MCU’s Department of Damage Control seems as dedicated to minimizing PR disasters as they are rebuilding following the battles of New York and Earth. And as seen in the episode One stinger scene, Agent Cleary (Arian Moayed) — making a return appearance following Spider-Man: No Way Home — regards Kamala’s debut at AvengerCon with suspicion.

Hopefully, this means we will get a better picture of what they do in a post-Blip world. One possibility: registering super-powered people for Sokovia Accord compliance. We never really saw how the accords worked in practice or on the ground. Back in the comics, the equivalent superhuman registration law required heroes to reveal their identities to the government. Damage Control may have ended up with the job of processing super-powered people considering the way it became an essential arm of the government.

Or, as tends to happen with secretive government agencies on television, their interest in Kamala’s powers could be more based in military application. The energy she generates could have limitless potential in a world still uneasy following Endgame.


The Family Business of It All

Mohan Kapur and Zenobia Shroff in Ms. Marvel

(Photo by Daniel McFadden/©Marvel Studios)

At the same time, an external antagonist may not be what the show is ultimately after. As we mentioned earlier, there is something interesting in the Khan family’s struggles. First, there is the culture clash as superheroes are indisputably American in origin and, at least from Yusuf and Muneeba’s point of view, part of the risk in raising their children in the United States. Second, there is the way Kamala’s interests foretell her slipping away from the life they wanted for her. There is also the wedge it creates between them. Look again at the sadness in Yusuf’s eyes when Kamala scorns him for the Hulk costumes; it is the face of someone realizing they no longer understand their daughter.

At the same time, that scene also speaks to Kamala’s growing problem with her parents. They don’t really hear or understand her interests, either. Choosing the Hulk as a father/daughter bonding experience reflects a blindness on Yusuf’s part as he fails to understand why Kamala focuses on Captain Marvel. Then there’s the bigger problem Kamala knows she has to someday face: Her parents expect all of this to be a passing fad before she hunkers down and lives a more traditional life.


Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in MS. MARVEL,

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Although an external foe will no doubt present itself in due time, the cultural and family pressures Kamala faces are rather unique in the MCU, even among the handful of younger heroes like Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld). Perhaps navigating that conflict — all the more potent for having no clear right or wrong answers — will prove to be the key rite of passage Kamala must face before joining up with Carol and Monica in next year’s The Marvels feature film.

98% Ms. Marvel: Season 1 (2022) new episodes launch on Wednesdays on Disney+.

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