Why the Ms. Marvel finale is a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Ms. Marvel.
Ms. Marvel. Illustrated | Disney Plus, Getty Images

The finale of Ms. Marvel ends with a bombshell reveal about Kamala Khan, which marks a turning point for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. Here's what you need to know:

Is Ms. Marvel a mutant?

In the closing moments of Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan's friend Bruno explains he came to a realization about her powers after looking more closely at her genetic make-up. "There's something different in your genes," he explains ... "like a mutation."

Kamala and Bruno don't get further into it. But the implication seems to be that Kamala is actually a mutant — as in, the mutants from the X-Men franchise, who develop superpowers because they possess an "X-gene." In case there was any ambiguity, the theme from X-Men: The Animated Series plays after Bruno drops the word "mutation."

Why is this so significant?

Fans have for years been anxiously anticipating the introduction of mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it appears this Ms. Marvel reveal is that moment they've been waiting for.

The X-Men, of course, have long been some of the most popular Marvel comic characters. But when the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched in 2008, the studio didn't have the film rights to use the mutants. At the time, X-Men films were being made at a separate studio, 20th Century Fox, so they took place in a different universe. As a result, any references to mutants, such as the fact that ​​Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) is one in the comics, weren't allowed in the MCU.

In 2019, though, Disney completed a purchase of Fox, acquiring the company's film assets — meaning for the first time, the X-Men were fair game to use in the MCU.

Since then, the MCU has dabbled a bit in showing off its shiny new Fox toys here and there. Evan Peters had a surprise role in WandaVision after starring in the Fox X-Men movies, but while this was initially thought to be a tease of an X-Men crossover, he turned out to be playing a new character. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Patrick Stewart had a cameo as Professor Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men, but he was technically playing a version of Professor X from another universe.

After the Ms. Marvel finale, though, it appears Kamala Khan is officially the first mutant character confirmed to exist in the main MCU.

Is Ms. Marvel a mutant in the comics?

Kamala being a mutant is a big change from the comics, where it's explained she's actually an Inhuman.

Inhumans are similar but distinct from mutants, at least in the comics. Unlike mutants, they were created by the Kree, who MCU fans will recall as the blue aliens from Captain Marvel. The Inhumans have been around since the 1960s, but Marvel went especially heavy on emphasizing them in the comics during the 2010s, partially as an alternative to the X-Men since the X-Men film rights were in Fox's hands at the time.

But now that this is no longer an issue, it seems the MCU is walking away from the Inhumans somewhat in favor of getting its introduction to mutants going. That may be in part because the brand was tainted by a widely panned ABC show called Inhumans in 2017. Anson Mount's Inhuman character from that show, Black Bolt, did have a cameo in Multiverse of Madness. But the Ms. Marvel change suggests the MCU probably isn't interested in doing much with the Inhumans for the time being and is all in on mutants instead.

Ms. Marvel tweaked a fair amount about its lead character in general, as her powers in the comics more involved physically stretching her body rather than the crystalline version that we see in the show. But in the comics, it's explained that Kamala's powers were activated after she was swept up into Terrigen Mists, so the MCU is at least retaining the idea of her abilities being genetic, rather than just connected to her bangle.

What else is Marvel planning to do with mutants?

Right now, the only major X-Men-related project Marvel has announced is a Disney+ animated series called X-Men '97, a continuation of the original X-Men: The Animated Series, though it's not clear if that will be canon in the MCU. No new X-Men film under Marvel Studios has been announced, though the next film in the Deadpool franchise, which is technically an X-Men spinoff, will be part of the MCU.

But the Ms. Marvel finale tease suggests Marvel is headed toward re-introducing the X-Men sooner rather than later. From a business perspective, this offers Marvel a massive treasure trove of iconic characters like Wolverine to put their own spin on, at a time when some have argued the studio may be stuck in a bit of a creative rut post-Avengers: Endgame. If Disney is hoping for another Endgame level smash hit, just imagine the box office potential of an Avengers vs. X-Men movie.

What's up with that post-credits scene?

The finale's other big reveal comes in the post-credits scene, which features a cameo by Kamala's hero, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). While in her room, Kamala notices her bangle is glowing, and suddenly, she seems to actually transform into Carol. But Carol looks around the room confused about all the fan art devoted to herself, implying she has unexpectedly swapped places with Kamala.

It's a set-up for the Captain Marvel sequel The Marvels, which will co-star Kamala (as well as Monica Rambeau from WandaVision). But this also seems like it could be a follow-up to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings' credits scene, in which Bruce Banner and Carol Danvers were trying to figure out the origins of Shang-Chi's rings, which appeared to be sending out a beacon.

There may be a connection between Kamala's bangle and Shang-Chi's rings, as we saw the Ten Rings logo during a flashback revealing the origins of the bangle in Ms. Marvel's third episode. So is it possible Carol has been investigating the bangle after Shang-Chi, and something during this investigation led her to swap with its owner?

We'll find out — and presumably get to see tons of adorable fangirling when Kamala and Carol finally meet — when The Marvels hits theaters in July 2023.

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