Ms. Marvel wrapped up its first season and while its finale didn’t quite match the highs of other Marvel Cinematic Universe shows, it did at least leave viewers with a few final morsels to chew on. Ms. Marvel herself, Iman Vellani, recently took part in a Reddit AMA to discuss one of the twists and how she couldn’t stop giggling while shooting that crucial scene.
The scene in question basically states that Kamala Khan is a mutant, something that’s further emphasized by the guitar in the background that plays part of the X-Men: The Animated Series theme song (which also played in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness when Professor X rolled in). Vellani answered more than a few questions regarding the choice, giving various replies that all revolved around her joy with the decision.
“Honestly I’m very happy we went this route,” she said in one reply. “I’m a huge X-Men fan and what an incredible honor to be the first official mutant in the MCU! It was the original intent for the comic character anyway.”
Sana Amanat, who executive produced the show and co-created the Ms. Marvel character, told Empire that making Ms. Marvel a mutant was originally the plan while writing the comic. However, she stopped before fully calling the show’s Kamala Khan a mutant, implying that she’s not at liberty to be more direct.
“When we were thinking about the character of Kamala back, back, back in the day in 2012, 2013, when [comic writer G.] Willow [Wilson] and myself were ideating, we originally wanted to make her a mutant. That was the whole intention, to be able to do that,” said Amanat. “Is she a mutant, question mark? I don’t know. I don’t know, guys! All I know is that we use the word ‘mutation’, and that’s all I can say. I will say, I think this is opening up doors for a lot of great storytelling, obviously, as a huge fan, um… of the word ‘mutation.’ I’m really happy about it.”
Ms. Marvel is typically portrayed as being an Inhuman that received her powers after they were awakened through accidental exposure to Terrigen Mist, a “mutagenic, or mutation-causing, substance.” According to Polygon, Marvel actively tried to minimize X-Men (and, therefore, mutants) in the mid-2010s, possibly explaining why Ms. Marvel had Inhuman roots since she was created around that time. When asked if she prefers Inhumans or mutants, Vellani explained the strengths of both routes.
“I respect both!” she said. “I love the comics to death and I love what we have done. Both mediums are very different and I think that certain things like the powers have to be reimagined to fit a larger scale live-action series but I think our show still stays true to those core themes and the tone from its source material which is the only thing that should matter.”
She continued in another reply about working with the strengths of the medium and how Inhumans might not smoothly make the jump to a film or television show.
“No, I’m not sad we aren’t gonna see the Inhuman connection,” she explained. “I love the comics and the Inhumans but they are such wild and over-the-top characters in the best way possible and I think those stories work best in that medium. I don’t need to see all my favorite characters in live action, to be honest. The MCU doesn’t establish which characters from the comics are worthy of a larger platform or which characters are most popular. There are so many comic characters that I honestly don’t want in the MCU because I just love those comics too much.”
Vellani also noted that it felt “absolutely fantastic” and “euphoric” to become a mutant before then explaining how she almost couldn’t keep it together for that scene, which she said was the hardest one to film.
“The M word scene was by far the most challenging scene to film and I say that with all seriousness,” said Vellani. “The take you see in on D+ is one of two takes we got where I didn’t giggle when Matt [Lintz, who plays Bruno] said the word. I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t say that word IRL without letting out what sounds like a Ron Swanson giggle.”
Vellani even said in a post on Marvel’s website that she freaked out when she read the script and sent Kevin Feige an all-caps email about it. In addition to sharing more tidbits about Vellani’s excitement regarding her new origin story, the article had input from some of the creatives behind the show and they explained why they made the choice to go down that path. Head Writer Bisha K. Ali said it wasn’t even something they had concepted while writing the show and came to fruition because they wanted to answer a certain question.
“It wasn’t from the beginning [of the show],” said Ali. “With Marvel, something’s always a moving piece, and we’re trying to solve this question of, ‘If any of [Kamala’s family] put the bangle on, would they have powers?’ The answer was always no, from a character perspective, no. So, right from the get-go, making Kamala different from the rest of the Khans made sense.”
There are many questions that have yet to be answered, but they seem to be playing at something more grand. Feige stated in May that where her powers come from is specific to the MCU. Amanat also said around that time that altering Ms. Marvel’s powers was the “right move because there are bigger stories to tell.” With those comments in mind, it’s possible that her MCU-exclusive status as a mutant could be the key in explaining why her powers are so different in the show and might even be yet another tease hinting at the broader role of mutants in the MCU. The MCU has already been inching into X-Men territory with cameos from Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Evan Peters’ Pietro Maximoff, so this could be another nudge in that direction. However, it will likely be some time before the truth comes out.