Through six episodes of Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan becomes a true superhero—but it doesn’t happen overnight. The 16-year-old high school student discovers her supernatural powers in the premiere, but for much of the show’s first season, she doesn’t know how to use her new abilities or understand how she got them. Kamala manages to fumble a falling child, breaking his leg in the process, and she struggles to fight against drones and a group of bumbling villains who keep getting outsmarted by teenagers. Through it all, Kamala is stuck with a silly superhero name, Night Light, while wearing either a knockoff Captain Marvel suit or a makeshift costume. It isn’t until the season finale that Kamala becomes Ms. Marvel in earnest.
In “No Normal,” Muneeba Khan gifts Kamala a brand-new suit that she can make her own. And, later, Yusuf explains to their daughter that the Urdu translation of Kamal is “Marvel,” and that she had always been their “own little Ms. Marvel.” Kamala’s family is now woven into the very fabric of her superhero identity, driving home the show’s season-long efforts to integrate those plotlines. Ms. Marvel is at its best when it leans into its family drama, and the finale ties everything together to establish its protagonist as the MCU’s newest superhero. It’s clear that Kamala is still learning what the lofty job title entails, but she’s already mastered some of her skills—including her now-graceful way of hopscotching across the sky—while only just scratching the surface of her other capabilities. When all seems lost in the climactic confrontation against the Department of Damage Control, Kamala activates her ability to “embiggen,” a trademark of hers in the comics:
While all of Ms. Marvel’s family dynamics remain strong to the end, the finale as a whole is one of the weakest episodes of the season, thanks to some familiar pitfalls that continue to plague MCU conclusions. Marvel’s villain problem strikes again in this series, with the Clandestines going out with a whimper in last week’s penultimate episode to make way for a final shootout with the DODC and its rogue (low-key racist) leader in Agent Deever. Kamran provides only a few bits of additional information about the Clandestines, failing to improve on the lack of clarity that has characterized the series’ portrayal of its primary antagonists and their motivations. At the end of the season, we still don’t know much about the Noor Dimension, nor do we know what caused the Clandestines to be exiled from it in the first place. Not only that, but Kamran’s inability to control his new powers in “No Normal” makes for one massive, shaky CGI spectacle that’s about as confusing to follow lore-wise as it is to follow on a pure action level.
There are many unanswered questions about the Clandestines and the Noor Dimension, but Ms. Marvel does use its finale to tie off some loose ends: Bruno is set to leave Jersey City for CalTech, Nakia and Kamala are friends again, and Kamran safely makes it to Karachi to meet Kareem and the Red Daggers. But “No Normal” also saves a pair of major surprises for the final moments, including one that will change the landscape of the MCU in the years to come, and another reveal in a post-credits scene that paves the way for The Marvels. Let’s discuss.
Ms. Marvel’s Mutation
“No Normal” finally puts an end to the mystery surrounding the nature of Kamala’s superhuman abilities. At first, it seemed as if Kamala’s bangle was the source of her newfound powers, but Bruno figures out that the family relic actually “unlocked the superhuman part” that had already existed within her. Kamala then discovers that she is a djinn, a supernatural from pre-Islamic folklore, but that explanation didn’t sound sufficient either. (After all, Kamala receives this news from Najma, a villain who tries to kill her just a few scenes later, and Ms. Marvel doesn’t invest much time thereafter into establishing the djinn or the Noor Dimension.) It always seemed like there was still a chance that the Disney+ series would eventually reveal Kamala to have Inhuman genes, as she does in the comics.
In the end, Kamala turns out to be something more than a djinn, and the finale even confirms her ties to a prominent group of superhumans in the comics—it just wasn’t the one that many had expected. Ms. Marvel is not an Inhuman. Rather, she is established as the MCU’s first mutant.
“Kamala, there’s something different in your genes,” Bruno tells Ms. Marvel in the season’s final scene, after explaining that he’d examined her genetic makeup again. “Like … like a mutation.”
With Bruno’s deliberate usage of the word “mutation,” Ms. Marvel has just taken the crucial first step of integrating the X-Men into the MCU.
Ever since Disney completed its acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019, Marvel fans have been wondering when the X-Men would be coming to the MCU. First, WandaVision toyed with our expectations, reintroducing Quicksilver with the same actor (Evan Peters) who played the Fox-owned X-Men version of the character instead of Aaron Taylor-Johnson from Avengers: Age of Ultron. But Quicksilver turned out to be some dude named Ralph Bohner. Later, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness welcomed Professor Xavier into the MCU (with Sir Patrick Stewart reprising his iconic role), but that all happened in an alternate universe outside of our main timeline on Earth-616.
Ms. Marvel leaves little room for doubt about what it’s trying to tell us about Kamala’s mutant genes. After Bruno delivers his “mutation” line with dramatic flair, the camera turns to Kamala just as a riff of the X-Men ’97 theme works its way into the episode’s score. (This follows a similar usage of the theme in Multiverse of Madness, as Marvel Studios continues to boost nostalgia for the beloved animated series ahead of its upcoming reboot.) After letting the gravity of the moment sink in, Kamala exhales and says to Bruno: “Whatever it is, it’s just gonna be another label.”
While all the X-Men referencing is unmistakable, it isn’t as clear whether Kamala will have direct ties to the mutant group of superheroes when they arrive in the MCU for real. Kamala’s response somewhat downplays her desire to identify as mutant, as if to say, “mutant, djinn, or Inhuman, I’m just Ms. Marvel.” Given that Ms. Marvel doesn’t really have close ties to the X-Men in the comics (outside of the occasional team-up with the likes of Wolverine), it makes sense for the series to leave room for Kamala to distance herself from Xavier’s group of gifted youngsters. Whenever the X-Men eventually get their own live-action project, the franchise will have a massive roster of iconic characters to choose from, and Ms. Marvel already has plans to link up with her idol Carol Danvers. But the “mutation” reveal is still a landmark moment for the MCU, as mutants now officially exist in the same world as the Avengers (or whatever is left of them), the Asgardians, the Eternals, and everyone in between.
The shift in Ms. Marvel’s origins, from Inhuman to mutant, is a clever decision given the direction of the MCU, but it feels a little cheap for the series to lean into the excitement for the arrival of the X-Men to distract its viewers from a lackluster finale. Ms. Marvel doesn’t go as far as telling us how the X-Men will emerge in the MCU, but—between Kamala and the powered-up Kamran—it shows us that mutants may have been around all along.
How Ms. Marvel Sets Up The Marvels
Ms. Marvel left its title character’s long-anticipated connection to her greatest inspiration to the last possible second, as Captain Marvel herself arrives in the season’s final post-credits scene.
The scene begins with a tired, fully costumed Ms. Marvel returning to her bedroom, where she crashes onto her bed as her mom reminds her to complete her homework. Kamala’s bangle begins to glow like it never has before, and suddenly she appears to be hurled into her closet. Except when she gets back up, in her place stands Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers.
This scene could probably mean one of two things:
- Scenario 1: Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel have traded places in the universe. After looking around the room and examining the many pictures of her adorning every wall, Captain Marvel says, “Oh, no, no, no,” before storming out of the room. It doesn’t seem as if Carol recognizes where she is, so it’s possible that the bangle has somehow teleported Ms. Marvel to wherever Captain Marvel was in space, while the Avenger landed in her biggest fan’s bedroom. The bangle has sent Kamala back to 1942 already, so who knows what else it can do?
- Scenario 2: Ms. Marvel has transformed into Captain Marvel. This feels like the less likely of the two scenarios given how much it would change our understanding of her powers, but Kamala is still learning what she can do. In the comics, one of her most-used abilities early on is shapeshifting. In fact, on the night that her superpowers are activated, she accidentally transforms into Captain Marvel, and continues to do so for a time as she figures out what she wants her own superhero identity to be. In the post-credits scene, Captain Marvel even looks down at her hands as if she doesn’t recognize them—though I’d probably also be questioning my existence if I had just teleported into a random stranger’s closet.
If the first scenario turns out to be true, then Captain Marvel now faces the responsibility of finding out what happened to Kamala, because I can’t imagine that Muneeba will take too kindly to the strange woman in her house who arrived just as her daughter disappeared, even if she has saved the world a couple of times. (Meanwhile, Ms. Marvel could be facing aliens on another planet.) And if it’s the less likely second option, well, Kamala has just picked up a hell of a new power that could be exploited in fascinating new ways, but may also get her into all kinds of trouble.
Whatever the case, Kamala and Carol are now connected ahead of The Marvels, the Captain Marvel sequel due in theaters next summer. In addition to Iman Vellani reprising her role as Ms. Marvel, Larson’s Carol Danvers will be joined by a grown-up and super-powered Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the latter of whom has been spending time in deep space with the Skrulls. Not much has been revealed about the plot of The Marvels, but now that Kamala has her superhero identity established, as well as a solid foundation of skills to build on, Ms. Marvel is stepping up to fight in the big leagues—whether she’s ready or not.