The Marvel Cinematic Universe just debuted its newest hero in Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel. One of the foundational premises of Ms. Marvel is that young Kamala Khan aspires to be like her hero, Captain Marvel. When she learns she has powers, she dons a Captain Marvel-themed costume in her journey to become her own superhero. But in the MCU, Captain Marvel has truly never been much of a hero to Earth, so the connection is not as meaningful. Basically, the MCU’s Captain Marvel is not a great role model.
In the comics, the notion that Kamala is inspired by Carol Danvers is more poignant for several reasons. On one hand, Danvers had been a prominent superhero on Earth for a long time and the public witnessed her save the day many times. Captain Marvel had been a major member of the Avengers, and so she was easily a household name. Her first moniker was, in fact, “Ms. Marvel,” which is why Kamala adopts the title when she does in Ms. Marvel (2013). But the adoration does not feel as earned in live-action.
The MCU has not spent as much time with Captain Marvel. She has been established as being incredibly powerful and potentially a major ally to the Avengers. In reality, though, Captain Marvel has—from what we know—never really been a superhero to the people of Earth. Her 2019 solo movie takes place in the 1990s, and it is revealed that after the moment she gained her powers, she was no longer on Earth. She returned to Earth in Captain Marvel by accident, the events of the film were very isolated and secret to the rest of the world, and then she left Earth again afterward. She returned when Thanos snapped and briefly seemed to help the Avengers, including saving Tony Stark’s life. But early on in Avengers: Endgame it is shown that she was nowhere near Earth, would not be for a long time, and presumably had not been there much since the first few minutes of the film. Obviously, she returned late in Endgame’s Battle of Earth with impressive strength, but even Ms. Marvel’s opening sequence describes how Captain Marvel once again “abandoned the people of Earth” since the battle.
Going out on a very safe limb here, the MCU likely wants Captain Marvel to be a more prominent character in its universe than she is right now. She has not been given many appearances or a presence in the franchise at this point, so there is no reason Carol Danvers cannot become this much bigger and more important character in the future. In theory, to be fair, she could have been around for a small period of time after the events of both Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame and become known to Earth then, but otherwise, she seems to be known exclusively as the superhero who came in and put up a good fight against Thanos in the Battle of Earth.
Carol Danvers could be the greatest person that has ever existed in the MCU and the strongest hero of all time, but it still makes little sense that the people of Earth would consider her one of their superheroes, an Avenger, or a household name. Obviously, the MCU version of Kamala Khan is going to be inspired by Captain Marvel, because Kamala was always going to be Ms. Marvel. But other than what she knows about the Battle of Earth from her own research, the connection between the two at this point is based on a very small portion of one major event. The future for The Marvels is bright, but in terms of being a superhero, Captain Marvel simply has not been one on Earth. It will be interesting to see how Kamala even take on the mantle of “Ms. Marvel.”
Even still, the fact that Carol has been very absent could be embraced. In WandaVision, Monica Rambeau seemed actively disappointed or upset by the mention of Captain Marvel, likely because she resents how Carol was not there to help her mother, Maria, when she died during the Blip. Whatever the exact reason, it definitely seems like it is connected to the general absence of Captain Marvel. Perhaps during Ms. Marvel or early in The Marvels, Kamala comes to feel as though Captain Marvel is not the hero she thought she was—a sentiment that would also echo events in the comics—and that would bring some unity to her and Monica. Or, maybe Carol makes an appearance in Ms. Marvel, Kamala loves her even more, and Ms. Marvel is the one who ends up making Monica have a change of heart.
Whatever the ultimate connection to Captain Marvel may be, fans can meet Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel. The first episode is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.