Ms. Marvel: the comic book origin and powers of Kamala Khan

Ms. Marvel episode 6 has brought a blockbuster finale to the first season of the Disney Plus streaming show – and with it, a final twist in the way Kamala Khan and her superhero origins are brought to the MCU.

Spoilers ahead for Ms. Marvel episode 6 – don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Still here? Good. Cause as it turns out, though everyone in Kamala Khan’s maternal family line is descended from the ClanDestine, only Kamala has powers – because she’s apparently a mutant.

That’s right. As in X-Men. 

Kamala Khan is seemingly the first confirmed MCU mutant (not counting Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ alt-reality Professor X, of course).

Ms. Marvel poster

Ms. Marvel poster (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

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So… yeah. That’s a pretty big change from comic books, where her powers come from her latent Inhuman DNA.

With the changes to her origin and powers, and the comic book connections hinted at by her updated story, there’s a lot to learn about Kamala Khan as she comes to the MCU ahead of her inclusion in the upcoming film The Marvels alongside Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau.

So let’s dig into Kamala Khan’s comic book origins as Ms. Marvel, her superpowers, the supervillains she fights, and her place in the Marvel Universe for some context on what’s coming up as Ms. Marvel continues on Disney Plus.

Who is Ms. Marvel?

image of Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Kamala Khan is actually the second superhero to take the name Ms. Marvel in Marvel comic books. She’s what’s colloquially referred to in the comic book community as a “legacy” character.

The moniker was first used by Kamala’s mentor and idol, Carol Danvers, who MCU fans know as Captain Marvel. 

In comics, Carol operated as Ms. Marvel when her own mentor, the Kree war hero-Space Fleet officer Mar-Vell (reimagined in the movies as a Kree scientist played by Annette Bening), was still alive and working as the original Captain Marvel. 

While it took decades after his death and a few superhero code names in-between, Carol – who in comics has genetic ties to the Kree – eventually took on the Captain Marvel mantle, and it was soon after that Kamala made her first comic book appearance in Carol’s headlining title – 2013’s Captain Marvel #14 (opens in new tab).

Like Carol, Kamala has an ancestral connection to the Kree – though not the same way Carol does. To explain, we have to go back to her origin. 

Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, Kamala is a Pakistani American and a practicing Muslim who, like Marvel’s original teen hero Peter Parker/Spider-Man, balances her life as a teenage superhero with her commitments to school and family.

Ms. Marvel #1 cover art

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

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For most of her life, Kamala believed she was an ordinary human, though she longed to gain superpowers like her heroes the Avengers (she even wrote herself into Avengers fan fiction before becoming Ms. Marvel!).

During Marvel’s Infinity (opens in new tab) event, in which Thanos tried once again to conquer Earth and the rest of the Universe, the Terrigen Mists of the Inhumans were released across the Earth. Here’s where Kamala’s connection to the Kree comes in.

Though it’s a little complicated, the Inhumans are a race of genetically engineered beings populated on Earth by their creators the Kree. When exposed to the mysterious Terrigen Mists, people with Inhuman DNA develop a unique superpower and sometimes undergo physical mutation.

When the Terrigen Mists swept across the Earth, they awakened superpowers in thousands of people with latent, heretofore unknown Inhuman DNA – including Kamala Khan.

What are Ms. Marvel’s powers?

image of Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

After her exposure to the Terrigen Mists, Kamala gained the power to ’embiggen,’ her word for changing her size and shape, especially to get bigger and to make her fists larger for punching (those who have played Marvel’s Avengers have likely gotten a long tutorial on the applications of these abilities by now).

As an Inhuman, she has a tenuous comic book relationship with the Inhuman Royal Family led by Black Bolt and Medusa, though Kamala has developed a special bond with the Inhumans’ dog Lockjaw, who has his own Terrigen Mist-granted power of teleportation. 

Along with her shape-shifting powers, Kamala has undergone extensive training as part of the Avengers and Champions, making her a capable strategist and fighter even beyond her superpowers.

For a while, she sported a special Kree-designed battle uniform while in space that carried its own weapons and abilities – but she’s gone back to basics since returning to Earth.

Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel in the Marvel Universe

image of Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Since she got her powers and took the name Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan has become an integral part of the Marvel Universe, particularly through her relationships with the other teen heroes of her generation.

We brought up the Avengers and the Champions, two super-teams Kamala has been a part of. Living up to her dreams, Kamala became an Avenger after meeting Carol Danvers and helping the team on a limited basis, after which she and two other teen heroes, Miles Morales/Spider-Man and Sam Alexander/Nova (themselves also inheritors of the legacies of classic older heroes) were all granted Avengers membership.

Kamala, Sam, and Miles’s time on the team was short-lived, however, as the three became disillusioned with adult superheroes during their adventures with the Avengers and departed to form their own team, based around their own ideals about building a better world.

Recruiting other teen heroes from around the Marvel Universe, Kamala, Sam, and Miles became the core of the Champions, a team that has had its share of recent ups and downs, including a 2021 stint as enemies of the state during the ‘Outlawed (opens in new tab)‘ story. 

In ‘Outlawed,’ the US government passes a law titled ‘Kamala’s Law’ to curb teen vigilante heroes after Kamala Khan seemingly disappears during a fight between the Champions and a giant monster – though she’s actually just hiding in her secret identity of Ms. Marvel.

This leads to the creation of an organization called CRADLE which monitors teen heroes, causing Kamala and her allies in the Champions to temporarily operate as fugitives. However, Kamala’s law was eventually repealed, and Ms. Marvel and the Champions are once again free to be teen heroes.

Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel in the MCU

Ms. Marvel trailer

Ms. Marvel trailer image (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The season finale of the Ms. Marvel streaming series throws some pretty serious twists in the adaptation of Kamala Khan’s origins and powers from comics to the MCU.

If you missed it at the top, spoilers again – and we mean big ones.

Earlier in Ms. Marvel season one, we learned that Kamala Khan’s maternal family has a secret heritage – her great grandmother was an other-dimensional being known as a ClanDestine.

Ms. Marvel trailer

Ms. Marvel trailer image (Image credit: Marvel Studios)

And though that’s the key to Kamala and her family’s connection the ‘Noor’, the name the streaming series gives to the cosmic energy of the ClanDestine’s home dimension, and though the bangle that belonged to Kamala’s great grandmother is what activates her powers, as it turns out, the reason Kamala gets powers and the rest of her family doesn’t is because Kamala has a little thing called the X-Gene.

Well, she has a specific genetic mutation that hasn’t been named as such, but it’s now confirmed that Kamala is the MCU proper’s first confirmed mutant.

How’s that for a big twist?

We’ll have to wait to see exactly what that means, but for now, we can count on seeing Kamala Khan again in The Marvels alongside Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau.

And speaking of Carol Danvers, she actually appears (or seems to appear – it’s a little complicated) in the streaming series’ final stinger scene, potentially setting up a comic book connection between Kamala’s bangle and the legacy of the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell.

Get to know Kamala Khan even better with the best Ms. Marvel comic book stories of all time.

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