This Ms. Marvel article contains spoilers.
In episode 4 of Ms. Marvel, Kamala meets a young man in a red scarf in the Karachi train station who matches her blow for blow, as well as zinger for zinger. But it turns out the mysterious stranger knows quite a bit about Kamala, her great-grandmother Aisha, and the ClanDestine. He’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s take on the Red Dagger, a masked Pakistani protector.
Who is the Red Dagger?
Played by Aramis Knight, the Red Dagger’s real name is Kareem (“Kimo” to his friends). The young hero is part of a secret society who protect Karachi and this dimension. The title of Red Dagger is sort of a “Dread Pirate Roberts” deal, where different warriors (and even multiple at once) have taken up the mantle for hundreds of years, to protect the people from “threats of the unseen.”
Kimo and Waleed (Farhan Akhtar), an older member of the organization, fill Kamala in on some vital information about the bangle, Aisha, the ClanDestine, and their plan. The ClanDestine (who themselves have an interesting comics origin) need Kamala’s bangle in order to get home, but apparently their method won’t just send them home — it will tear open the barrier between dimensions, and the ClanDestine’s dimension will take over theirs and Kamala’s, until it ceases to exist.
Kimo befriends Kamala, introducing her to friends and life as a young person in Karachi, over biryani and a bonfire. He and Waleed help her train, and her control over her powers markedly improves over the course of the episode. Waleed presents her with a vest for her to remember them by, which gets her one step closer to her eventual comics-accurate costume.
Red Dagger Comics Origin
Does the Red Dagger originate in Marvel Comics? Is he different there from his MCU incarnation? Yes, and yes, a little. The Red Dagger, also known as Laal Khanjeer in Urdu, originated in the Ms. Marvel comic books, and while he’s very similar to the Kimo we meet on screen, there are a few key differences.
On the page, he’s still a young man Kamala meets while visiting her family in Karachi, but he lives in her grandmother’s house, in her mom’s old bedroom. Since his mom and Kamala’s aunt went to school together, he considers himself and Kamala to be “friends-in-law” which is…totally a thing. Sure, Kareem.
Red Dagger Powers
Kimo doesn’t necessarily appear to have powers so far on the show, but he does find Kamala in the first place because he senses her noor, the energy inside her that is the basis of her powers (and also the Arabic word for light, usually transliterated as nour.) It’s unclear whether this is an ability all Red Daggers have, and if it translates to any other skills, like speed, strength, or dagger-based accuracy. Going up against the likes of the ClanDestine without any kind of powers beyond being able to sense noor would certainly put the Red Dagger at a disadvantage, though he seems to hold his own pretty well when fighting alongside Kamala and Waleed.
In his comics origin, Red Dagger’s uncanny dagger-throwing ability comes from lots of practice. In Karachi, he studied for his college entrance exams by day, and worked as a self-taught hero by night. He’s also not connected to any kind of group or mentor, unless you count the parkour videos he watched on YouTube, so he had a tough road.
If you detected some chemistry between Kamala and Kimo on screen, you’re probably on to something. As young neighborhood heroes, the pair have a lot in common. There’s nothing quite like good witty banter during a fight.
In the Ms. Marvel comics, Kamala and Kareem end up meeting up while masked without realizing one another’s identities, because there’s no way Ms. Marvel could get through an entire family trip without suiting up. The pair reunite later, when Kareem comes to Coles Academic High in Jersey City to get foreign language credits and stays with Kamala’s family. Somehow Kamala doesn’t make the connection about his identity when Red Dagger reappears as well. There’s a lot of flirting, though, and the two kiss in costume (her first kiss!), but she calls it off before they decide to unmask. Ultimately, her underlying feelings for Bruno win out.
The MCU version of Kamala has plenty of romantic options, if she’s interested, but she also seems like she has a very full plate with the bangle, the ClanDestine, trying not to disappoint her parents, earning back Nakia’s trust, and learning to drive. Regardless, hopefully Red Dagger will stick around for a bit to help his newfound friend defend their dimension.