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This week, after first looks and teasers scattered throughout Disney+ marketing over the last several months, the streaming service finally unveiled the first full trailer for Ms. Marvel, the much-anticipated new series starring Iman Vellani as Pakistani-American teenage superhero, Kamala Khan.
For longtime readers of Kamala's comic book adventures, the trailer packed a lot of familiar sights. We saw Kamala's Jersey City neighborhood, her friends, her parents, her school life, and of course, her love of superheroes, namely the MCU icon known as Captain Marvel. It's that love for all things Avengers that will eventually set Kamala on her path to becoming a superhero in her own right, with her own set of powers that set her apart from other major MCU figures.
Which brings us to where the trailer started to diverge from the established comic book norms just a little bit. As in the comics, the MCU Kamala is a superhero-obsessed teen who eventually gets to be a hero herself, but unlike the comics, this Kamala has a new set of powers, ones that look like they've got some fascinating physical implications for her live-action future.
During her 2013 origin story, Kamala Khan gained superpowers through a cloud of Terrigen Mist, the substance that activates latent genetic potential in Inhumans and grants them superhuman abilities. At the time this was happening a lot, as an event Marvel dubbed Inhumanity led to a kind of mass-activation of various Inhumans. But despite their short-lived ABC series, the Inhumans aren't really a factor in the MCU landscape, which meant Ms. Marvel TV creator Bisha K. Ali and the team at Marvel Studios had to come up with another explanation for Kamala's powers. In the trailer, it looks like her gifts come not from Terrigen, but from a bracelet she finds that somehow imbues her with interesting gifts...gifts that differ in some intriguing ways from her comic book powers.
In the pages of Marvel Comics, Kamala's power is the ability to manipulate the shape of her body into just about anything she wants. She can shrink to the size of toy and grow (or "embiggen," to use her word of choice) to the size of a building. She can make her fists into massive, ballooning mallets; extend her arms out; and even flatten her body until she's paper thin. She's basically Mr. Fantastic with some added powers of inflation and shapeshifting, and she can even disguise herself to a certain extent.
Based on the trailer, the Kamala of the MCU can also do some of those things. We see her do the big punch trick at one point, and we see her hands glowing with energy like they do in the comics, though this time it's blue, not yellow. What we don't see all that much of, though, is shapeshifting. Instead, Kamala's power seems to manifest in a sort of crystalline structure that she can shape and manipulate, which allows her to close doors from across the room and even, in one memorable moment, walk through the air just by laying down little power discs she can use like stepping stones.
So, why the changes? I'm sure we'll hear plenty of answers on that from the show's creators as we get closer to its release, but for one thing, it just looks cool. Having a young hero who can basically Iceman her way across the sky with energy bursts is a neat idea, particularly when set against the backdrop of an otherwise ordinary neighborhood. For another, Kamala's shapeshifting powers work very well on the comics page, but may not have looked quite as great in the Marvel Studios previz space. Plus, it's a universe that already has several characters who can get small, then big, then regular sized again, so perhaps it felt redundant.
Whatever the reason, it's clear there's a bit of a reinvention happening here, even as Ms. Marvel is eager to introduce a wider audience to the same spirited teenager we know from the comics. It'll be very interesting to see what else Kamala can do when Ms. Marvel hits Disney+ on June 7.