The line between fans of video games and comic books has blurred even further in recent weeks with the launch of Marvel's Avengers from Square Enix, which puts players in the role of several of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in an in-depth single-player campaign, and subsequent multiplayer adventures.
Appropriately, a good portion of the game's story is told through the eyes of Avengers-superfan-turned-superhero Kamala Khan (a.k.a. Ms. Marvel), whose powers awaken at the start of the story, leading her to become a young Avenger in training.
Interestingly enough, that origin story – and Kamala's role in the game – reflect her comic book history and her place among Earth's Mightiest Heroes across Marvel's media.
With Kamala Khan taking a big spotlight in Marvel's Avengers, Newsarama is ready to run down everything you need to know about who Ms. Marvel is, what her powers are, and how she fits into the Marvel Universe.
Who is Ms. Marvel?
Kamala Khan is actually the second superhero to take the name Ms. Marvel in comic books. The moniker was first used by Kamala's mentor and idol, Carol Danvers, who operated as Ms. Marvel when her own mentor, Mar-Vell, was still alive and working as the original Captain Marvel. Kamala even made her first comic book appearance in Carol's headlining title, in 2013's Captain Marvel #14.
Like Carol, Kamala has an ancestral connection to the Kree – though in comic books, it's not exactly like Carol's own genetic Kree identity. To find out how we'll go back to her early roots.
Born and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey, Kamala is a Pakistani American and a practicing Muslim who, like Marvel's original teen hero Peter Parker/Spider-Man, balances her life as a teenage superhero with her commitments to school and family. For most of her life, Kamala believed she was an ordinary human, though she longed to gain superpowers like her heroes the Avengers (she even wrote herself into Avengers fan fiction before becoming Ms. Marvel!).
During Marvel's Infinity event, in which Thanos tried once again to conquer Earth and the rest of the Universe, the Terrigen Mists of the Inhumans were released across the Earth. Here's where Kamala's connection to the Kree comes in.
Though it's a little complicated, the Inhumans are a race of genetically engineered beings populated on Earth by their creators the Kree. When exposed to the mysterious Terrigen Mists, those with Inhuman DNA develop a unique superpower and sometimes undergo physical mutation.
When the Terrigen Mists swept across the Earth, they awakened superpowers in thousands of people with latent, heretofore unknown Inhuman DNA – including Kamala Khan.
What are Ms. Marvel's powers?
After her exposure to the Terrigen Mists, Kamala gained the power to 'embiggen,' her word for changing her size and shape, especially to get bigger and to make her fists larger for punching (those who have played Marvel's Avengers have likely gotten a long tutorial on the applications of these abilities by now).
As an Inhuman, she has a tenuous comic book relationship with the Inhuman Royal Family led by Black Bolt and Medusa, though Kamala has developed a special bond with the Inhumans' dog Lockjaw, who has his own Terrigen Mist-granted power of teleportation. Along with her shape-shifting powers, Kamala has undergone extensive training as part of the Avengers and Champions – an experience once again reflected in Marvel's Avengers game.
For a while, she sported a special Kree-designed battle uniform while in space that carried its own weapons and abilities - but she's gone back to basics since returning to Earth.
How does Ms. Marvel fit into the Marvel Universe?
Since she got her powers and took the name Ms. Marvel, Kamala has become an integral part of the Marvel Universe, especially through her relationships with the other teen heroes of her generation.
We brought up the Avengers and the Champions, two super-teams Kamala has been a part of. Living up to her dreams, Kamala became an Avenger after meeting Carol Danvers and helping the team on a limited basis, after which she and two other teen heroes, Miles Morales/Spider-Man and Sam Alexander/Nova (themselves also inheritors of the legacies of classic older heroes) were all granted Avengers membership.
Kamala, Sam, and Miles's time on the team was short-lived, however, as the three became disillusioned with adult superheroes during their adventures with the Avengers and departed to form their own team, based around their own ideals of building a better world.
Recruiting other teen heroes from around the Marvel Universe, Kamala, Sam, and Miles became the core of the Champions, a team that is set to relaunch later this year following the events of Outlawed, a one-shot that set the course for Marvel's teen heroes new status quo – and in which Kamala played a key role.
What is Ms. Marvel's role in Outlawed?
In Outlawed #1, the Champions fight a Roxxon Corporation monster, leading to a tragedy in which one of their members dies and Kamala Khan is presumed missing when she disappears from the scene – though she's actually just fine in disguise as Ms. Marvel. Her presumed disappearance – a result of her unwillingness to divulge her secret identity - leads to legislation called 'Kamala's Law' that restricts teen superhero activity, bearing Kamala's name as a presumed civilian casualty of a teen superhero fight.
When the Champions return, they'll be operating outside the law (hence the Outlawed designation – you can get even more details on what exactly that entails right here), avoiding the machinations of new government agency C.R.A.D.L.E. (Child-Hero Reconnaissance and Disruption Law Enforcement), designed to train or apprehend teen heroes depending on their compliance with 'Kamala's Law.'
Along with Champions, Ms. Marvel stars in an eponymous current ongoing series The Magnificent Ms. Marvel written by Eisner-nominated creator Saladin Ahmed and artist Mingkyu Jung – upcoming issues of which tie directly into the 'Outlawed' story.
What about the Ms. Marvel Disney Plus show and Kamala Khan's future in the MCU?
Kamala Khan will join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in an announced Ms. Marvel Disney Plus streaming series, though details are scarce on that just yet. But she's already made her big debut in other media.
Kathreen Kavari has voiced Kamala on several animated series including Avengers Assemble, Marvel Rising, Spider-Man, and in the video game Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 (Kamala is voiced by Sandra Saad in Marvel's Avengers).
She's also had previous video game appearances in Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, and numerous Marvel-based mobile games including Marvel Future Fight, Marvel Strike Force, and Marvel's Contest of Champions.
As you can see, Kamala Khan's profile as Ms. Marvel is only growing. She's taken on the role of one of Marvel's premiere teen heroes alongside Miles Morales/Spider-Man (himself about to be the star of a Playstation 5 exclusive video game), with her central role in Marvel's Avengers setting the stage for Ms. Marvel's upcoming jump to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.