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What are Ms Marvel’s powers? Fan complaints and changes explained

There has been fan backlash to a big change from the comic books – but it might be for the best.

Iman Vellani and Matt Lintz in Ms Marvel
Disney
Published: Wednesday, 15th June 2022 at 12:25 pm
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Brand new Disney Plus series Ms Marvel has introduced us to Kamala Khan (TV newcomer Iman Vellani), a Captain Marvel superfan who eventually gains superpowers of her own.

Khan is Marvel’s first Muslim superhero, whose solo comic book series made its debut in 2014.

However, like many other MCU shows and movies, Ms Marvel does deviate from the comics in some ways - Kamala’s powers in particular.

The creative team behind the Disney Plus series decided to bestow Kamala with a new power set designed to help her fit seamlessly into the franchise's growing line-up.

So, how do Kamala Khan’s powers differ from the comics? Here are all the details on Ms Marvel's powers – including how and why they have been changed.

Also, if you are keen to catch up on the MCU, be sure to read up on how best to watch Marvel movies and shows in order.

What are Ms Marvel's powers?

Iman Vellani plays Kamala Khan in Ms Marvel
Iman Vellani plays Kamala Khan in Ms Marvel Disney Plus

Ms Marvel made her comic book debut in 2013 when teenage fangirl Kamala Khan was gifted incredible abilities after exposure to the Inhuman mutagen known as the Terrigen Mist.

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The substance proves fatal to those who do not have dormant Inhuman DNA in their body, but fortunately, Kamala was one of the lucky few who did.

She gained the ability to change the size and length of her limbs, whether by elongating them in a similar manner to Mr Fantastic's trademark stretchiness or making them giant a la Ant-Man.

It didn't take long for this ability to gain a cute and convenient nickname, with fans of Ms Marvel describing her as having the power to "embiggen" herself – a word added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2018.

However, do not expect to see this depicted in the Ms Marvel streaming series, where the character's superhuman abilities are derived from mysterious bracelets that she discovers instead.

They give her the ability to generate hard light structures, such as protective shields, as well as fire what appear to be energy blasts from her hands.

The exact origin of these abilities and their connection to Kamala's accessories are still to be explained, but expect the series to address the question over the course of its six episodes.

Why did they change Ms Marvel's powers?

Now onto the big question: why would Marvel change the powers of a character who has proved so popular up to this point? We've done some digging and conclude the reason is three-fold.

1. To bring the character closer to Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau

The Marvels: Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Ms Marvel (Iman Vellani), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)
Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Ms Marvel (Iman Vellani), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) Disney/SEAC

Producer Kevin Feige has been quite clear that Ms Marvel is a prologue of sorts to the upcoming blockbuster The Marvels, where Kamala will join forces with Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris).

Plot details are scarce for the project, which is slated for release in July 2023, but it seems that Marvel Studios is keen to ensure these characters are intrinsically linked.

They already have a personal connection – Kamala is a huge fan of Carol and the Avengers, while Carol herself was once best friends with Monica's mother, Maria – but this bond could also extend to their powers.

Ms Marvel co-creator and series producer Sana Amanat has hinted that there is a narrative purpose to the change that will become apparent in later MCU entries.

"We thought it was important to make sure that her powers are linking to larger stories in the Marvel universe," she told Entertainment Weekly. "We wanted to make sure there is a little bit more story to tell after this series.

"Having spoken to G. Willow [Wilson, co-creator] about this as well, I think Willow and I have always felt that this made sense. This was the right move because there are bigger stories to tell."

Amanat added that fans of the comic books should not be too disheartened as they will see echoes of Kamala's so-called "embiggening" represented in the Disney Plus show.

"I don't want to spoil too much about how she uses her powers, but they're fun and bouncy," she continued. "At the same point, the essence of what the powers are in the comics is there, both from a metaphorical standpoint and from a visual standpoint.

"We're doing the embiggened fist. We're doing the elements that make her feel and look kind of crazy, but also really cool. I think it's going to be familiar to people, but at the same time, different in a fresh and unique way."

2. Because they would be hard to do in live-action – particularly on television

Ms Marvel in Disney XD's "Marvel's Avengers: Ultron Revolution" - Season Three
Ms Marvel in Disney XD's Marvel's Avengers: Ultron Revolution Marvel/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Superhuman stretching is difficult to bring to life in live-action and there are four failed Fantastic Four movies which attest to that (from Roger Corman's infamous '90s effort to 2015's Fant4stic).

Marvel Studios is pumping a considerable amount of money into their Disney Plus output, but some fans have felt that the visual effects in the streaming shows don't quite match those on the big screen (see She-Hulk backlash).

Therefore, it's quite possible that Ms Marvel's stretching and size manipulation was simply too costly for a television budget, with co-creator G Willow Wilson acknowledging they would be hard to recreate in live-action.

"I think there’re some characters who are very much set up for the big screen; they’re very naturally sort of cinematic. But with Ms Marvel, we really weren’t interested in creating something that had very obvious film potential," she told Polygon in 2019, shortly after the show was announced.

Wilson continued: "I was really leaning... into the comic book-ness of this character. She’s got very comic booky powers. God bless them trying to bring that to live action; I don’t know how that’s going to work out in a way that doesn’t look really creepy.”

3. To avoid Mr Fantastic comparisons

Ioan Gruffudd plays Mr Fantastic in Fantastic Four (2005)
Ioan Gruffudd plays Mr Fantastic in Fantastic Four (2005) SEAC

As mentioned, we have previously seen live-action stretching powers in various incarnations of the Fantastic Four franchise, but never have they had a particularly glowing response from viewers.

Indeed, some fans even blasted the CGI in Marvel Studios' own Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, where an alternate version of Mr Fantastic made a brief cameo appearance.

While it's unclear if the same actor will return to the role for the MCU-set Fantastic Four reboot, which is confirmed to be in the works, we do know that the character will be part of Marvel's next phase in some form.

Therefore, the studio execs may have felt that Kamala's "embiggening" is a little too close to Mr Fantastic's abilities and thus could detract from the excitement surrounding the return of the FF.

ComicBook.com quizzed Ms Marvel director Adil El Arbi on whether this was a factor and the filmmaker revealed it was a question he put to producer Kevin Feige himself – only to get a cryptic response.

"We can say that we asked that question to Kevin: 'Hey is this because of Mr. Fantastic?'' said El Arbi. "Kevin said, 'I don't say anything.'"

Ms Marvel is coming to Disney Plus on Wednesday 8th June 2022 – sign up for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year. Check out the best movies on Disney Plus and best shows on Disney Plus – or see what else is on with our TV Guide.

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