This post contains spoilers for The Marvels.
For a variety of reasons, The Marvels left a lot of lingering questions in the minds of viewers. One of the biggest concerns the movie’s MacGuffin itself, the bangle that the villain Dar-Benn uses to fight the heroes and restore her home planet Hala.
In the climactic scene of The Marvels, the central trio defeats Dar-Benn and Ms. Marvel takes her bangle, pairing it to one she received from her grandmother. But when Kamala returns to Earth and hugs her parents at the end of the movie, she’s only wearing one bangle. She doesn’t explain what happened to its pair, and instead focuses on the loss of Monica Rambeau, now stuck in the X-Men universe for some reason.
For such an important item, the bangle doesn’t get the attention it deserves from The Marvels. However, viewers paying attention will notice that Carol Danvers wears the other bangle on her arm in her last scene, in which she helps move the Kahn family move into Monica’s Louisiana home.
But while that question has an easy answer, the bigger question is why? Why does Carol have the other bangle at the end of the story?
On a plot level, Carol may take the other bangle because Kamala’s not ready to wield such power. Even in The Marvels, which takes place after Ms. Marvel, Kamala is still learning the ropes of superheroing. The Marvels proves that she’s become a pro at making constructs with the bangle, but the other bangle seems to possess more destructive powers. And while no one would disagree that Kamala is a good kid with a great heart, she is still a kid, prone to making mistakes.
Carol may also have the bangle because of its origin. As explained in The Marvels, the bangles are quantum bands, devices of immense power created by the Kree Empire. Suffering from amnesia and using the name “Vers,” Carol served in the Kree Empire for years. After regaining her memory and identity, Carol continues to deal with the Kree. Thus, she has an interest in protecting the bangle and keeping it from returning to the Kree and becoming a weapon of conquest once again.
If either of these possibilities are true, then the lack of explanation further diminishes The Marvels and its shoddy editing. However, the change of possession points to a stronger thematic and historical point, which does not necessarily need exposition to justify.
On the historical level, the Marvel character Captain Marvel came into existence when the copyright for a Golden Age character called Captain Marvel lapsed. Created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck for 1940’s Whiz Comics #2, published by Fawcett Comics, Captain Marvel was the adult alter ego of young Billy Batson, who transformed into the hero whenever he said the magic word “Shazam!” Captain Marvel outsold Superman in the 1940s, which drove DC Comics to file a frivolous lawsuit against Fawcett, claiming copyright infringement. While DC held up rights in court, the copyright lapsed and Marvel jumped on it, claiming the copyright and introducing their own character, a male Kree warrior turned hero.
Marvel paid winking homage to the Fawcett version by having their Captain Marvel bond with perpetual sidekick Rick Jones. But they switched places not by saying a magic word, but by clasping together the bangles (called Nega-Bands in the comics) that they wore on their wrists.
Obviously, the space-shifting in The Marvels plays with that original idea. But the movie doesn’t give any indication that Kamala and Carol will be repeating the dynamic in the future.
However, the fact that Carol wears the bangle signals the end of her character arc in The Marvels, in which she gets over her fear of disappointing Monica and accepts Kamala as her friend. Furthermore, by accepting Kamala’s bangle, Carol is acknowledging the younger hero as her successor, giving Ms. Marvel the legitimacy she always wanted.
Moreover, the connection between the bands points to the future of the Marvel Universe which is, if you haven’t noticed, in a bit of trouble right now. The middling reception to The Marvels not withstanding, Kamala Khan is the greatest hope for the franchise right now, thanks to Iman Vellani’s infectious excitement. By connecting her to Captain Marvel, a hero from the Infinity Saga, the movie positions Kamala as the hero who will carry the MCU through its next phases in the Multiverse Saga.
Will Kevin Feige go forward with Kamala? Or will he just bring back old characters instead? Those are the real unanswered questions from The Marvels.
The Marvels is now streaming on Disney+.