The series finale of Ms. Marvel, now streaming on Disney Plus, puts some interesting new twists on Kamala Khan's MCU superhero origins - some of which point directly at an interesting piece of Marvel Comics lore connected more directly to Carol Danvers in Marvel Comics.
In comic books, Kamala Khan's powers are derived from her latent Inhuman DNA, which, when activated, grants her the power to change her size and shape. In practical terms, this often means growing in size to increase her strength and "embiggening" her fists to launch powerful attacks.
And though she's shown making a giant energy fist in a stylistic nod to her comic book abilities, and she even "embiggens" in a slightly different way, in the Ms. Marvel series, her powers manifest as purplish energy constructs which she refers to as 'Hard Light' in episode 2, borrowing a term used in Marvel Comics by characters such as Quasar.
Along with eschewing the Inhumans element from her backstory in favor of a different kind of special heritage (or two different kinds of special genetics, counting a big reveal in the season finale) the Ms. Marvel show's adaptation of Kamala Khan's powers and the terminology used to explain them may hint at some different possible comic book roots that Marvel Studios may be connecting to Kamala's MCU story - namely that of the Quantum Bands, the weapons used by the aforementioned Quasar, and the Kree weapons known as the Nega-Bands, the predecessors of the Quantum Bands in comics.
Both those comic book sets of bracers not only channel cosmic power, they also tie directly into the legacy of Carol Danvers and 'The Marvels,' as the heroes who occupy this specific corner of the Marvel Universe have been dubbed in the MCU ahead of the film of the same name. And we'll tell you everything you may need to know about both the Nega-Bands and the Quantum Bands right now.
What are the Nega-Bands?
The first of these aforementioned sets of wristbands are the Nega-Bands, a set of Kree artifacts with a connection to the Negative Zone, a dimension of destructive energy ruled by the insectoid villain Annihilus and his all-devouring 'Annihilation Wave.'
The Nega-Bands first appeared in 1969's Captain Marvel #16, when the Kree Supreme Intelligence awarded them to Marvel Comics' original Captain Marvel, the Kree warrior Mar-Vell, who was adapted in a somewhat different incarnation as portrayed by Annette Bening in 2019's Captain Marvel film. Despite functioning as mighty weapons that instantly increased Mar-Vell's power levels, he also found himself trapped in the Negative Zone by the Nega-Bands' connection to the strange dimension.
That is until another set of Nega-Bands was discovered on Earth by Marvel's unsung everyman, Rick Jones.
(TL:DR, Rick Jones is kinda the Forrest Gump of the Marvel Universe, always finding himself caught up in superhero business alongside everyone from the Hulk to Captain America to the Avengers, and many, many others).
When Rick touched his Nega-Bands together, Mar-Vell was freed from the Negative Zone with Rick taking his place, allowing Mar-Vell to use his powers and take on whatever threat may be at hand. This same relationship was later shared by Mar-Vell's son Genis-Vell, who used the name Captain Marvel for some time while being mentored by Jones.
Interestingly enough, this swapping of places could be the explanation for the Ms. Marvel finale's stinger scene, in which Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan may have switched places.
There have been a few other sets of Nega-Bands in the Marvel Universe, notably a pair found but not wielded by the Guardians of the Galaxy, and an artificial pair created by Hank Pym which were later destroyed. And, when Hulkling, current Emperor of the Kree/Skrull Alliance and another son of Mar-Vell, wed his Royal Consort Wiccan, they exchanged wedding bands made from the destroyed ore of a set of Nega-Bands
In terms of what the Nega-Bands can actually do, they have the power to manipulate numerous forms of energy, including creating limited constructs such as force fields, they grant a level of super-strength, speed, and invulnerability, they allow the wearer to survive in space, and they can teleport across space and dimensions.
And there's one other thing they can do - though it's a bit hard to define.
For some, including Mar-Vell and Genis-Vell, wearing the Nega-Bands grants a sort of sixth sense called 'Cosmic Awareness' that endows the wearer with a general ability to detect and understand the nature of the cosmos, including when it is threatened or disrupted.
Kinda sounds a little like the visions Kamala has had in the MCU streaming series, no?
What are the Quantum Bands?
The other set of cosmic bracelets in the Marvel Universe is the Quantum Bands, which, as the name implies, draw power from the Quantum Zone much like the Nega-Bands are connected to the Negative Zone. However, it's important to note that in Marvel Comics, the Quantum Zone is a dimension of pure, unbridled cosmic energy, as opposed to the MCU where the well-known Quantum Realm is a layer of reality that exists at a subatomic level.
Comic book science, amirite? Don't worry, there won't be a pop quiz.
During his tenure as a hero, before his death in 1980's The Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel, Mar-Vell was appointed as the so-called 'Protector of the Universe' by the timeless cosmic entity known as Eon.
When SHIELD scientist Wendell Vaughan learned how to wield the Quantum Bands while studying them, he took on the name Quasar, becoming a superhero. Partially thanks to his connection to the Quantum Bands, Eon selected Vaughan as Mar-Vell's replacement as Protector of the Universe.
The Quantum bands include a suite of powers similar to those granted by the previously mentioned Nega-Bands, including super strength, space flight, teleportation, Cosmic Awareness, and energy manipulation - including the ability to channel the wearer's thoughts into objects, something Vaughan himself often used to create giant fists for punching. Not unlike DC's Green Lantern, but then again, also not unlike how Kamala is shown doing the same thing in Ms. Marvel.
But the Quantum Bands actually appeared before being granted to Quasar by Eon, first showing up in 1975's Fantastic Four #164 by writer Roy Thomas and the late, great George Pérez, wielded by an Eternal named Thelius who hailed from an Eternal colony on the planet Uranus (similar to how Thanos is from an Eternal colony on Saturn's moon Titan).
(Thelius was originally mistaken for Robert Grayson, the original Marvel Boy, thanks to their close resemblance - but that's its own can of worms).
In fact, it's believed that the Quantum Bands were created by the Eternals, and were used by the Kree as the basis for the creation of the Nega-Bands.
After Wendell Vaughan, Mar-Vell's daughter Phyla-Vell inherited the Quantum Bands, taking the name Quasar herself for a while - before dying and being resurrected years later, that is.
The current wielder of the Quantum Bands in Marvel Comics is Avril Kincaid, a former SHIELD agent who inherited both the Quantum Bands and the mantle of Quasar during the Avengers: Standoff event. She and Wendell Vaughan were both recent members of the Guardians of the Galaxy, using their Quantum Bands to swap places in and out of the Quantum Zone as Mar-Vell and Rick Jones once did with the Nega-Bands.
Again, not unlike what may have happened with Carol and Kamala in the stinger of Ms. Marvel episode 6.
The Nega-Bands and the Quantum Bands in the MCU
Interestingly enough, of all the people who have wielded sets of Nega-Bands and Quantum Bands in the Marvel Universe, Kamala Khan is not among them, although she has shared other comic book connections to the Kree and to the larger legacy of Mar-Vell.
Bearing in mind we're not even sure that Kamala's MCU bracelet has anything to do with either set of Marvel Comics artifacts we've outlined, the bangle is shown as the catalyst for activating her powers rather than their actual source.
As for where her powers actually come from, well, her access to the cosmic energy she channels may come from her ClanDestine heritage, but as revealed in Ms. Marvel episode 6, her actual powers and her ability to use the bangle come from something different - a genetic mutation. As in, like, mutants. As in, Kamala Khan is a mutant.
But we'll put a pin in that for now - as the bangle itself still has mystical importance in the MCU.
A big part of Kamala's origin story and first arc as a hero in comic books is her self-doubt that people will take her seriously as a superhero due to her age, appearance, religious beliefs, and ethnicity.
Though Kamala Khan doesn't openly shapeshift into Carol Danvers in her first superhero adventure, Kamala does wear her own cosplay version of Carol's Captain Marvel uniform - sorta reflecting some of the ideas present in the comics.
And of course, the final episode pays homage to this scene - but with a twist that hints at the Nega-Bands or Quantum Bands being involved. In the scene, rather than Kamala shapeshifting into Carol Danvers, she and Carol actually swap places in Space (we're using Capital-S Space there for a reason - remember Carol's MCU powers derive partially from the Space Stone).
So if Carol and Kamala swapped places, was that effect caused by something similar to the way Nega-Bands and Quantum Bands swap their wearer's places?
Using the Quantum Bands or Nega-Bands could bring forward other possible MCU connections, including everyone from the recently introduced Eternals and Eros, to Thanos, to Mar-Vell's kids Hulkling, Genis-Vell, and Phyla-Vell, not to mention the kind of Six Degrees of Marvel Separation, Rick Jones.
Also, not for nothing, in The Eternals, Phastos creates a set of bracelets for all the Eternals to regulate and channel their own 'Cosmic Energy' (it's an actual thing in Marvel Comics) - meaning there could be some further connection between Kamala's bracelet and the Eternals in the MCU, whether it's a Quantum Band or not.
Speaking of the Eternals, Ms. Marvel episode 2 namedrops Kingo as a Bollywood star, mentioning "Kingo Senior" as well, a reference to Kingo's ruse of being his own descendant to explain how he's been able to stay young appearing in movies for so long.
And if there's some connection to the Negative Zone thrown in there - possibly as the original dimensional home of the ClanDestine - that could also open the door to Annihilus and the Annihilation Wave. Meanwhile, on the other hand, a connection to the MCU Quantum Realm would draw an immediate line to Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and its villain, Kang the Conqueror.
So again - considering the caveat that we're merely speculating (or perhaps taking an educated guess) that the Quantum Bands or Nega-Bands could be part of Kamala Khan's MCU origins as Ms. Marvel - there's a wide universe of Marvel Comics concepts that could help fill in some of the effects of the translation of Kamala's powers and origins from comics to TV.
If you can't get enough of Kamala Khan's classic origin and powers, get your fix in comic book form with the best Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel stories ever.