This Ms. Marvel article contains spoilers.
Ms. Marvel Episode 1
Kamala Khan has arrived in the MCU with her own Disney+ show introducing us to Ms. Marvel, Jersey City’s newest hero. As a canonical fangirl, there are more Easter eggs than usual in this first episode alone, with a special emphasis on Ms. Marvel’s connection to Captain Marvel. In a world where Marvel characters are on the news and there’s an Avengers fan convention for the irl heroes, there are so many references we probably won’t ever find them all, but we’re doing our best. Let’s dig in!
The opening animation is like the short animated films actor Iman Vellani has made herself, which are also Marvel-themed. They are incredibly endearing. You can see them here. And, of course, within that there are a ton of Marvel Comics and MCU Easter eggs, which we’ll get to throughout this piece.
- Kamala’s animation is apparently part of a 10-part series on “Earth’s mightiest hero,” one of Captain Marvel’s comic slogans. This one depicts the Battle for Earth from Avengers: Endgame and features Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Gamora, Valkyrie, Okoye, and an actual twig for Groot, among others. The thumb tacks for Hawkeye’s arrows are genius.
- Kamala’s telling corrects the record somewhat, giving Captain Marvel due credit for her real strength and blasting Thanos’ fleet (seen here made of recycled Circle Q cardboard boxes) out of the sky. There’s a great visual reference to Captain Marvel’s hair changes over time and her haircut for Endgame, showing her hair length in different eras from long to short faux hawk.
- There is, understandably, a lot of Captain Marvel paraphernalia in the room. We catch a glimpse of Captain Marvel’s fighter plane, and when Carol fles through space, her trail is rainbow…is this a queer easter egg? A…queester egg? It’s also a little reminiscent of Nyan Cat!
- The image of Captain Marvel shooting straight up from earth, gold halo around her, flying through space is something she’s done several times in the comics, like when she had a brain lesion and knew flying that high would erase her memory and personality but did it anyway to save the day, or on the cover of Captain Marvel, Volume 2: Down.
- Kamala has a poster of throwback comics Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) in her hot pants, long sleeves, knee-high boots and scarf. When I say throwback, I mean it: this Carol artwork and costume design is circa 1977 by Dave Cockrum, modified from John Romita’s original artwork so it’s no longer a crop top. Her feathered hair was inspired by Farrah Fawcett. Right next to it is a poster of one of Mckelvie-designed Kelly Sue DeConnick-era Captain Marvel, with the helmet fauxhawk up in space.
- One of the drawings is a photo of Kamala’s face literally attached to a drawing of Captain Marvel’s body, which is a direct representation of how Kamala’s powers play out in her first story arc in the comics, where Kamala transforms completely into Captain Marvel.
- Kamala is tracking Captain Marvel sightings which include Tokyo (Hi, Hawkeye), Area 51, Sandy Beach, and “Dark a-” a dark alley, perhaps?
- This shot is reminiscent of one from a Carol Danvers comic from the Kelly Sue DeConnick run, when they throw a huge rally for her in NYC to thank her for saving the day. At that point, the vibrant fan community had been calling themselves the “Carol Corps” and KSD included it in the artwork in a shout out to the fans who had made their run of the Captain Marvel comics incredibly popular.
- Carol wearing the flight jacket over her Captain Marvel suit is also visual reference from the comics. It calls to mind this 2012 cover art for “Going Down” by Joe Quinones, for a storyline when Carol was grounded and unable to fly.
- There’s a comic storyline in the Alpha Flight run where Captain Marvel rescues a refugee kid and brings them to her home base in space, including a panel that looks almost exactly like this. Except in the comic book it’s a Hala child after their homeworld is destroyed, instead of a Kree kid (the MCU has done some interesting things with Hala-Kree politics). The kid takes on the nickname Bean after Carol’s own childhood nickname from her dad. Since comics Carol is canonically from Boston, it’s a “beantown” reference. PSA: Please do not call people from Boston “Bean.”
- Kamala had a Hala star on her jacket while riding her bike. The hala star is a Captain Marvel reference, and she got it from the Kree, whose homeworld is called Hala.
- In Kamala’s room when she’s wearing the bathrobe to hide her Captain Marvel costume from her mom, over her shoulder you can see drawings that are meant to be hers, which look an awful lot like the concept artwork from Jamie McKelvie’s Captain Marvel redesign.
- Bruno creates photon gloves, to simulate Captain Marvel’s powers. He also suggests that Kamala dress up as “Princess” Captain Marvel which Kamala rejects. Carol Danvers has (begrudgingly) accepted the teasing nickname “Princess Sparklefists,” and it seems like Kamala would be similarly annoyed by a nickname that would be equally applicable.
- When Kamala shares her plan with Bruno, she has a clock with the Captain Marvel artwork from the 2014 TPB Captain Marvel Vol 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More (written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, artwork by David Lopez) on the wall in the background.
- Is that a flur-kitty drawing we saw? There’s for sure a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-flerken after Kamala mentions Scott Lang’s podcast, next to an article purporting a Jersey man saw Captain Marvel. We love you, Goose!
- Bruno calls out Zoe’s cosplay for not being accurate: Zoe’s costume is half Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel (domino mask and the lower half) and half Carol Captain Marvel (colors and torso), both from the comics, making it inaccurate within the MCU. Love it!
- Kamala competes in the cosplay contest against football Captain Marvel, princess Captain Marvel, Victorian Captain marvel, Captain Marvel in a tutu, race-and-gender bent Captain Marvel, plus a few more on the side that we couldn’t quite see. Let us know if you have ideas!
Ms. Marvel Comics References
There’s a lot of iconic imagery in this episode taken directly from the comics – the feel of Kamala’s room, the corner store Bruno works at, Kamala’s brother Aamir getting married, Bruno and Kamala sitting on the roof, Zoe being someone they used to sort of hang with but who is now too cool for school, the looming specter of gentrification.
Kamala’s working on her cosplay for an Avengers fan convention, which is a reference to the character’s fangirl origins and also doubles as a reference to actor Iman Vellani cosplaying as Kamala Khan when the comic books first came out.
Early Kamala Khan?
Who’s the dark haired woman with gold earrings we briefly glimpse? Is it maybe Kamala Khan’s first appearance, when she was in the background of Captain Marvel #14 (August 2013) by Kelly Sue DeConnick?They both have gold earrings and a similar skin tone, but it’s hard to see.
The plaque at Kamala’s high school is all names of people who worked on the original Ms. Marvel run:
- G. Willow Wilson, writer and Ms. Marvel co-creator
- Stephen Wacker, editor
- Adrian Alphona, artist on original run (penciller/inker)
- Jamie McKelvie designed Kamala’s costume. He also did the modern Captain Marvel redesign
The names listed above are the original Ms. Marvel creative team. Missing is editor Sana Amanat’s name. She’s an EP on this show and I believe her name pops up in a special role next episode.
Other names included are also Ms. Marvel luminaries:
- Ian Herring is a colorist who has worked on both Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, as well as a host of other stuff for Marvel Comics! Takeshi Miyazawa has worked on both Kamala and Carol’s comics. Joe Caramanga is a letterer who has done more than we can even count.
- Nico Leon came on as artist for the 50th issue of Ms. Marvel featuring Kamala Khan
Considering that all of these writers, editors, and artists are from volumes 1 & 2, it makes me think Ms. Marvel will be drawing most heavily from those books.
- Worry not, comic book fans. Her fist does, in fact, embiggen. This doesn’t answer the thematic concerns about her literally turning into Captain Marvel, though.
- It is kinda cool that her power comes from the gauntlet, which means it comes from Pakistan and her grandmother. Stay tuned for an answer on whether her powers are inherently part of her or external.
- While the setting is different, Kamala getting her powers and saving Zoe the same night while out somewhere that her parents don’t want her to be is straight out of the comics. Her mom calling Avenger Con a drinking party could even be considered an Easter egg, since in the comics the rescue of Zoe took place at a more typical high school party, down on the Jersey City waterfront!
We wrote more about the changes to Kamala’s powers here.
Speaking of the changes to Kamala’s powers, in the science classroom there’s an explosion with a blue cloud that looks suspiciously like Terrigen mist, AKA the way Kamala’s powers were activated in the comics and the Inhumans were activated on Agents of SHIELD. Ah, SHIELD. We miss you, old friend.
- That bird glimpsed in the opening credits. looks an awful lot like a reference to The Inventor, an early Ms. Marvel comics villain. He was a half-man, half-bird incarnation of Thomas Edison (yes, the inventor of the lightbulb) who was kidnapping the kids of Jersey City, including Kamala’s classmates, until she put a stop to it. Plus, it looks like a drawing of Hela underneath the Inventor bird, because Kamala Khan knows a bad bitch when she sees one.
- Later in the episode, we get another nod to the Inventor, when the sign Kamala and Bruno sit in front of on the roof is for Edison Electric—a totally legit name, but also a shout out to The Inventor, the evil bird clone of Thomas Edison (but please don’t call him a bird to his face. He’s very sensitive about it). Just…just read the damn comic.
Kamala poses in Ant Man’s hand when he’s enormous and standing in the harbor from the finale of Ant Man and Wasp. Are these even Easter eggs anymore at this point or…?
Speaking of Scott Lang, the graphic for his podcast makes it seem like an individual episode, titled “Big Me, Little Me” on This Powered Life, which I’m hoping is the MCU version of NPR’s take on This American Life but for powered people. (Sorry, Sam!)
- It’s pretty rad to see the Hulk next to bismillah, the transliteration for “in the name of God” in Arabic. And I guess Bigfoot is there too? In Kamala Khan’s imagination, all are welcome!
- Big Hulk/Little Hulk is mortifying but adorable!
When Kamala first gets to school and walks down the hall, there’s a song playing by Riz MC AKA Oscar-winning British-Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed. Back in 2018 when Kevin Feige first talked about bringing Kamala Khan to the MCU, Ahmed spoke up about the importance of hiring South Asians and Muslims for the job, jokingly suggesting himself, Mindy Kaling and Kumail Nanjiani for the job. He later went on to say there were more qualified people for the job, and he said he wanted South Asian women and Muslim women to write the script and lead the effort. It’s good to see that the Ms. Marvel team is as diverse as Ahmed hoped and found a way to include him in the show.
- The entirety of AvengerCon is a reference so we’re just going to mention a few of our favorites, starting with holding it at Camp Lehigh, home of Captain America, and the song “The Star-Spangled Man” from Captain America: The First Avenger playing as Kamala and Bruno walk in. There’s even a girl on the bus and at Avenger Con dressed as one of the Captain America USO Show dancers.
- The “America’s Ass” artwork and “Fight like a girl” Captain Marvel hat are both self explanatory and absolutely something that would exist in real life.
THOR, NEW ASGARD, AND VALKYRIE
- A fan at the convention is wearing an Asgard Pride t-shirt, which might make it both the gayest thing to actually happen in the MCU thus far and the most actual on-screen acknowledgement of Valkyrie’s sexuality (this is not a compliment).
- Check out the tourism booth for New Asgard! We’ll just have to wait for Thor: Love and Thunder to see if it’s as good as the brochure looks.
The Post-Credits Sequence
- The Ms. Marvel/Ms. Marvel (Kamala and Carol) lightning bolt ⚡ is featured on the street art during the credits, as well as the Edison Electric sign.
- A bunch of iconic Kamala and Carol art is superimposed as street art during the credits. Cover art from the first issue of Ms. Marvel is in the credits when they show EP Sana Amanat’s name. Amanat is one of the creators of the character.
- Artwork of Nakia and Aamir from the comics is shown when those actors’ names appear during credits.
- The stinger features Tony-nominated Iranian-American actor Arian Moayed–who you might know as Stewy from Succession–reprising his Spider Man: No Way Home role as Agent Cleary. Moayed has had a helluva year, starring in Love Life season 2 and Inventing Anna in addition to the previously mentioned projects, and writing the upcoming film The Courtroom.
We wrote more about that post-credits scene here.
RANDOM COOL STUFF
- Kamala Khan is a Girl Scout! She made it to Junior, and it looks like she had quite a few patches. Shout ‘em out in the comments if you recognize any.
- Kamala and Bruno refer to her mom as Darth Vader in conversation, but I feel like Muneeba would not take any of Anakin’s shit.
- I can’t hear Kamala and Bruno calling each other “weirdos” over and over without thinking of the Riverdale “I’m a weirdo” speech. Chalk another one up to the teen/coming of age genre.
- There’s a memorial wall for Black Widow and Iron Man. Nothing for Captain America and Gamora though. Where do people think they went?
- Star Lord has a book, because of course he does. Superhero memoirs would sell like hot cakes.
- The weird My Little Pony lookin’ things we glimpse in the opening are probably a reference to the Avengers fan-fic we see Kamala conceiving in the very first issue of 2014’s Ms. Marvel comic series, where the Avengers were rescuing creatures that looked a lot like these.
- That’s Marvel new media VP Ryan Penagos, AKA “Agent M” as the MC of the Captain Marvel costume contest at AvengerCon, by the way.
- Shout out to Gabe Wilson’s “Hang in There” motivational cat poster inspired by the original. Gabe has an overall cat lady aesthetic, given his computer background and mug, which could be a nod to Carol Danvers’s cat Chewie/Goose, but my money is on it being a reference to Alison Janey’s erotica-writing guidance counselor in 10 Things I Hate About You with her graphic cat mug.
- Gotta love how Kamala has figured out that Thor is indeed “secretly a gamer.”
Spot anything we missed? Let us know in the comments!