Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
When the first trailers for Disney Plus’ Ms. Marvel dropped, fans quickly noted key differences between the series and its comic book origins.
Differences in Ms. Marvel’s powers, in particular, rankled fans, as they pondered the motivation for changing this aspect of the series. A cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is revitalizing this conversation, as viewers poke holes in prior reasoning for the divergence in Kamala’s powers.
Warning: Spoilers follow!
Midway through Multiverse of Madness, fans were delighted to see some very familiar faces crop up. A set of cameos introduced the Illuminati, a group of immensely capable heroes who work to maintain balance in their — and sometimes other — universes. Among the lineup of powerful characters was Reed Richards, aka Mr. Fantastic, an often disliked character who gained major brownie points thanks to his chosen actor. With John Krasinski in the role, fans are much more intrigued by the measured and mature Richards, but that didn’t stop outrage from building in fans of Kamala Khan.
See, Kevin Feige and the rest of the Marvel team told fans — months back when Ms. Marvel trailers were first dropping — that she couldn’t have comic-accurate powers because it doesn’t “match” in the MCU. The character typically boasts the ability to stretch and expand her body in a variety of ways, very similar to characters like Mr. Fantastic or Elastigirl from The Incredibles. In her dedicated Disney Plus series, Kamala instead has control over cosmic energy via a wrist cuff, shifting her into a power portfolio that has more in common with Green Lantern than Mr. Fantastic.
The arrival of a new — and broadly welcomed — Mr. Fantastic reignited the conversation about Kamala’s power profile online, as users once again wondered why the MCU felt the urge to needlessly alter her character. Richards certainly didn’t last long, but his appearance in Multiverse of Madness proved that it’s far from impossible for a stretchy character to find a place among the MCU lineup. With that in mind, why change Kamala’s character into something new? Fans already love the version that was introduced in comics and are using the Richards cameo to blast the MCU for making needless alterations.
A number of fans are genuinely annoyed that Kamala’s abilities were altered — seemingly for good reason, as it can be hard to make stretchy powers look cool in live-action — when it appears it wasn’t necessary at all. If you can make the ability to stretch look good for one character, you can do it for another.
Some fans even postulated that it is in fact because of Reed Richards that Kamala’s powers were altered. If a revival of The Fantastic Four is impending — a terrible idea that is made immensely less terrible if, and only if, the current casting trajectory is followed — it’s possible that the MCU thought the shared power would be excessive. With this in mind, they may have altered her abilities in anticipation of Richards’ eventual reintroduction into the MCU.
If the decision to alter Kamala’s power was, in fact, made to maintain space between her and Richards, fans are not pleased. As numerous people pointed out, quite a few MCU characters already share powers or skills. Even in the primary MCU, characters like Clint Barton are seeing fresh faces take up their old mantles, allowing for a new character to carry on old traditions. Once variants like Captain Carter and Monica Rambeau’s Captain Marvel are considered, this idea stretches even further and showcases how little that argument holds up.
We’ve yet to actually see the character Disney and Marvel will give us in Ms. Marvel, but some fans are headed into the series disappointed. While the alterations made to Kamala’s character hopefully won’t ruin her on-screen adaptation, fans remain confused over the decisions Feige continues to make about impactful properties like Ms. Marvel. If the series pulls off its cosmic bracelets right, any critique may be dead on arrival, but we’ll have to wait for the series to drop on June 8 to know for sure.