Ms Marvel's original creator has revealed that she sympathizes with fans who are upset over the character's superpowers being changed for her Marvel TV show.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab), Sana Amanat – one of five comic book creators who developed Kamala Khan – accepted that the Pakistani-American superhero's fans were frustrated with the move. However, Amanat suggested that the change was necessary for Ms Marvel's live-action counterpart and how her story fits into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
In the comics, Khan acquires her powers after she's exposed to a substance called Terrigen Mist. As a result, the Inhuman's dormant abilities are unlocked, allowing her to grow (and stretch) in size and stature – a process known as embiggening – or alter her body composition to fit into small spaces. Ms Marvel also possesses superhuman strength, speed, and endurance, enhanced healing factor, and bioluminescence.
Fans were excited to see Marvel bring Khan's unique powers to the MCU. However, many were left disheartened and angry when the Disney Plus show's first trailer revealed that Khan's abilities will be derived from magical bracelets she finds.
Responding to fans' disappointment over the move, Amanat said that she was well aware of the backlash that the move had caused. In an attempt to placate long-time Ms Marvel fans, though, Amanat explained that the change was necessary so that the Marvel Phase 4 project – as well as Ms Marvel herself – felt grounded in the expanding MCU. Not only that, but Amanat also suggested that altering Ms Marvel's origins story would allow her MCU arc to fit seamlessly into an upcoming Marvel movie that Khan will be a part of.
"We thought it was important to make sure that her powers are linking to larger stories in the Marvel universe," Amanat said. "We wanted to make sure there is a little bit more story to tell after this series. Obviously, she goes into The Marvels [movie, which arrives in July 2023].
"The powers do look different, which is very controversial. I know people are like 'How dare you change the powers!'. I know people are upset about it, but as someone who's probably one of the closest people to this character from the inception, and having spoken to G. Willow [Wilson, Ms Marvel's co-creator] about this as well, I think Willow and I have always felt that this made sense. This was the right move because there are bigger stories to tell."
Elaborating on the superpower change, Amanat confirmed that fans will still see Ms Marvel's embiggen powers in the Disney Plus series, even if they aren't Terrigen Mist-derived.
"I don't want to spoil too much about how she uses her powers, but they're fun and bouncy," she added. "At the same point, the essence of what the powers are in the comics is there, both from a metaphorical standpoint and from a visual standpoint. We're doing the embiggened fist. We're doing the elements that make her feel and look kind of crazy, but also really cool. I think it's going to be familiar to people, but at the same time, different in a fresh and unique way."
Analysis: Marvel goes on the offensive
Amanat isn't the first individual to explain the reasons behind the alteration to Ms Marvel's powers. Earlier in May, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told Empire magazine (opens in new tab) that the change was required to allow the character to fit into a specific part of the MCU.
"We adapt the comics; it’s not an exact translation," Feige said. "[Kamala] came about in a very specific time within the comic-book continuity. She is now coming into a very specific time within the MCU continuity. And those two things didn’t match.
"What we will learn about where those powers come from, and how they come about, is specific to the MCU. "You will see great comic splash panels in some of our action sequences. If you want big, giant hands and arms, well they’re here in spirit, if not in stretchy, plastic-type ways."
Despite Feige and Amanat's defence, certain sections of Ms Marvel's fanbase are yet to be convinced.
Taking to Reddit, some fans believe that the decision was taken so that Ms Marvel can play the "little buddy" role to Captain Marvel (opens in new tab) in 2023's The Marvels, while others decried the creative change as "like doing Superman but he's not from Krypton and also it's just a suit that lets him fly and be strong (opens in new tab)". Others observed that Ms Marvel's powers are supposed to be a metaphor for how the body changes through puberty (opens in new tab), and removing that aspect of her MCU origin story is a misstep on Marvel's part.
But some fans are on board with Khan's powers being altered. Some suggested that Amanat being okay with the change was "reassuring (opens in new tab)", with others commenting that they weren't bothered by the switch (opens in new tab) if it meant that other aspects of Ms Marvel's personality were retained. Even G. Willow Wilson has expressed concern (per Polygon (opens in new tab)) about how Marvel Studios would adapt Khan's stretchy-style powers for a live-action version of the character.
It's understandable why Marvel has made this decision. If the studio feels that it fits Ms Marvel's MCU narrative, it's arguably a small price to pay to ensure that audiences can comprehend her role in the wider universe. Most MCU viewers aren't comic book fans either, so many won't be fully (if at all) aware of Ms Marvel's origin story being altered.
That said, fans are entitled to air their grievances over what some consider to be an unnecessary change. Khan may not be as well known (among casual Marvel fans, at least) as Thor, or Captain America, or Iron Man. But what if any of their abilities or origin tales had been changed for their MCU introductions? Would fans be happy, or would Marvel have to defend themselves against those valid questions?
Tough as it may be for fans to swallow, Marvel Studios has committed to the move. If the Inhumans are ever introduced to the MCU, maybe we'll see Khan's powers subtly altered to fall in line with her own Inhuman comic book origins. Until such a time arrives, though, we'll have to get used to Ms Marvel's tweaked abilities, no matter our feelings on the subject.