Ms. Marvel’s Modern Mutants*

Ms. Marvel’s Modern Mutants*
Warning: This post talks about Ms. Marvel and hypothesizes on the upcoming show.

The trailer for Ms. Marvel dropped and I have to say, more than even Hawkeye (which I was drawn to because of Hailee Steinfeld), I have been waiting for this. The show drops on June 8th!

Kamala Kahn is pretty much all of us, if mutants (and magic and cosmic powers) were real. She’s a daydreamer who is a good kid, but she looks at the world and wants to be something amazing. But, as she so eloquently puts it:

It’s not really the brown girls from Jersey City who save the world. That’s a fantasy too.

Kamala grows up in the same world we do. We dream and we hope, but we know that rarely do the dreamers have a reality like that.

Then again, Kamala also lives in the Marvel Universe, and her obsession with Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) actually has a different kind of payoff.

Kamala’s Cosmic Change

In the comics, Kamala is called a ‘polymorph,’ which means she can change her size and shape, and even shapeshifter to a limited degree. Once she got her powers, Kamala took on the mantle “Ms. Marvel” out of respect for her hero, Captain Marvel (I am not about to get into the whole saga of Shazam, Mar-Vel, Marvel, Mrs. Marvel, and Captain Marvel, but know that if you want to see a comic nerd cry, just ask them “which Marvel?”).

Now as you saw in the trailer, she uses her power to make her fist fly across the room. More or less, that’s how she fights in the comic. She uses her powers to ’embiggen’ (as she puts it) her fists into giant battering rams. But also in the trailer, you didn’t see that. I mean, yes, you saw a shiny fist fly across a room and punch someone, but you didn’t see the Mr. Fantastic/Stretch Armsrong/Plastic Man/Elongated Man kind of putty move (yes, all those can stretch body parts, make the jokes we all did about it).

GIF: Disney+

The logical question we all have is ‘why?’

We don’t have a definitive answer. That is, Disney hasn’t said why, but we’ve all got the same kind of theory about it, and it comes down to a disastrous TV show you may never have heard of. It was back in 2017 and it was called Marvel’s Inhumans. To say the show was panned is to put it mildly. ABC aired all of 8 episodes, before the show was shoved in a bin. Oh sure you can find it on Disney+ but honestly don’t waste your time.

Now. The point of The Inhumans is that at the time, Disney didn’t own the rights to the X-Men. That meant they couldn’t say the word ‘mutant’ because it was trademarked for the use (and if you think that is a stupid bit of trademarks, do not look up the whole drama behind ‘superhero’ and how companies get blasted trying to say ‘we provide superhero service’). Anyway, in order to get around that, Disney decided to make Inhumans, a group of supers with a soapy vibe, weird abilities, and all, making them a center point in (drumroll please) the comics too!

In the middle of that debacle, Kamala Khan is revealed to be an Inhuman, her powers awaken, and she gets to be Ms. Marvel. Seeing as very few people ever watched Inhumans, and now Disney owns Marvel and can use ‘mutant’ all they want, why would they tie a new character to that dreck? No really, Inhumans is awful. And so we get magical bracelets instead.

Bracelets of Badass

In the comics, again, the bracelets actually exist! They’re heirlooms from her great-grandmother and are basically a bag of holding. Sorry, I went to the other nerd place. They have compartments and can cary things. Cool, right? Mary Poppins Bracelets!

Instead of that, though, as we see in the trailer, the bracelets … activate her power. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say they’re tying her to the Ten Rings from Shang-Chi (that movie did really well, if you haven’t seen it, go watch, it’s a hoot). The other powerful theory is that it’s related somehow to the Kree (they’re the shape changers from the Captain Marvel movie). Could be both.

Either way, right now the bracelets let her make solid objects out of purple/violet energy (yes, shades of Green Lantern). She makes a big punchy hand, slams a door closed, and even makes a forcefield she can walk on and stop bullets with. Super cool!

Diversity Drives Drama

If you got all the way down here and wondered why I’m spending any time on a character who is (based on the trailers) 100% heterosexual, it’s because of her rival.

This should be your stopping point if you want to go in blind and be surprised by everything that may happen.

Still reading? Okay.

One of Kamala’s nemesis’s in comic land is Zoe Zimmer (Marvel adores alliterative names, it’s not just you). In the beginning, Zoe is a typical white bread American girl, who mocks people who aren’t Christian, disses nerds, has the typical jock boyfriend. The whole nine yards. But Zoe also has a secret. She has a huge crush on Nakia, Kamala’s BFF. After becoming friends with Kamala (and by extension Nakia), Zoe gets all weird about it.

Finally, though, Zoe gets her head out of her ass and is an out and out lesbian, a vegan, does yoga, and becomes incredibly respectful and empathetic of others. It’s a wonderful shift and while it may sound silly and woke, it’s beautifully told.

I’m really excited for this, and I hope Laurel Marsden does it justice.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.

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