Ms. Marvel has finally premiered its first episode, which means it is time for another round of our From Page to Screen feature. Previously, we compared the comics to their live-action counterparts for each episode of Hawkeye and Moon Knight. Now, it is Ms. Marvel’s turn. Despite making headlines for significantly changing Kamala’s powers and origins for live-action series, Episode 1 has revealed that the show may be much more comics accurate than some would have guessed. Here, we look at how the first episode adapted the moment Kamala discovered she had powers from the comics.
Kamala’s power discovery or power activation moment comes across the first two issues of Ms. Marvel (2014). In Ms. Marvel #1, Kamala is exposed to Terrigen mist from the Terrigen Bomb as she is leaving a party that her parents would not have allowed her to be at. After being exposed, she has a vision of some Avengers, including her hero Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. After breaking out of her cocoon, she discovers she looks like Carol Danvers in her old Ms. Marvel costume.
Ms. Marvel #2 reveals the rest of the story. While wandering around after being exposed to the mist, Kamala realizes she has the ability to shapeshift and stretch and elongate parts of her body. She witnesses Zoe Zimmer fall into the water and not come back up. She rushes in—as Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel—to save her. She scoops Zoe out of the water with a giant and elongated arm and hand.
There are people around who take photos and videos of “Ms. Marvel” saving Zoe, which leads people in Jersey City to think that Carol Danvers was around and saving the day in her old costume. Kamala tries to sneak back into her room late, but she is caught by her family.
What They Kept
Despite the MCU’s Kamala seemingly having a very different origin in terms of her powers, this “power discovery” moment for the character is, perhaps surprisingly, notably comics accurate. While AvengerCon is certainly no traditional high school party, Kamala’s mom calls it a “party” when she forbids her from going.
At the “party”, Kamala’s powers get activated, but the differences in that aspect are discussed more below. In any event, she still has what appears to be a vision (or something vision-like) as they are awakened. Even more, she ultimately uses her newfound powers to save Zoe from danger. The moment she breaks Zoe’s fall from the giant replica Mjolnir, her powers create a light construct that looks like a giant extended arm and fist in a clear homage to the comics.
People at AvengersCon took photos and videos of Kamala saving Zoe which go on to make Kamala go viral. Her identity is not known and all that is known about her is that she was dressed as Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers. Afterward, Kamala tries to sneak back home, but her mom catches her.
What They Changed
The general narrative structure of Kamala’s power discovery moment is the same, but the MCU of course made significant changes. Obviously, the setting of AvengerCon is different, although this is likely to give Kamala a reason for looking like Captain Marvel when she first acts as a hero. Similarly, in Ms. Marvel Kamala is merely dressed like Captain Marvel rather than actually shapeshifting into Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel. In that way, there is no confusion as to the fact that Kamala is not Carol, but she is still sort of “stuck” with that costume and association after getting attention for saving Zoe. Of course, she does not dress like comics Ms. Marvel because the MCU never had that mantle, though Zoe’s cosplay with that classic costume is another homage to the comics.
The reason Kamala’s moment comes at a time when she happened to be dressed as Captain Marvel is a product of the changes Marvel Studios made to her powers. In live-action, she is not exposed to Terrigen mist and does not appear to be Inhuman, but instead, the bangle is what appears to awaken her abilities. Her “vision” is not of the Avengers but remains a mystery. Instead of having stretchy, embiggening, or shapeshifting powers, she appears to be able to create energy or light constructs that are crystal-like and breakable. She uses them to save Zoe, although her lack of control of her powers is what caused the danger in the first place.
We will keep analyzing how the comics-inspired Ms. Marvel as the series continues. The first episode is now streaming on Disney+.