Kamala Khan's introduction to the MCU has been a far twistier sequence of events than any might have realized they were in for when the character's project was first announced. Chief among those would be the entire overhaul of her power set. Instead of stretchy skin and size-morphing abilities, she became able to summon light constructs.
With those changes, came another big departure: Kamala is a Clandestine, seemingly diverting her from her more Inhuman origins in the comics—yes, even despite Black Bolt's recent introduction in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Thankfully, despite all these changes, audiences are loving the series. Not only that, but it's been an amazing vehicle for masterfully crafted representation for the wider audiences who may not know anything about where someone like Kamala comes from.
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Ms. Marvel.
There's no bigger example of this than where the character finds herself in the major twist ending of Episode 4: in 1947, during the actual Partition.
Addressing That Twist Ending
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Ms. Marvel director Shareem Obaid-Chinoy, who directed the series’ fourth and fifth episodes, opened up about Episode 4’s unexpected ending, and the great responsibility she had in telling the world about The Partition.
The director revealed how, in order to bring The Partition to life on the show, she “took hundreds of photographs from 1947,” and “worked… to recreate frames from real photographs:”
“You know, telling the story of The Partition comes with great responsibility. And I, in Episode 4 at the end, when she walks on the platform, I took hundreds of photographs from 1947. And I worked with the crew and the cast to recreate frames from real photographs. So when she walks onto that train, walks onto the platform, the conversation she's hearing and the way people are being carried and the props, everything comes out of a real photograph."
She continued elaborating how “Kamala Khan… [is] not a superhero at that moment… she’s literally catching these frenetic conversations:”
“So that Kamala Khan is bearing witness to history. She's not a superhero at that moment. She's literally catching these frenetic conversations. And I think that when you make it personal when you make it about people leaving their homes, then anyone watching anywhere in the world would find a connection to it.”
When asked about the tease in Episode 4 that Kamala isn’t really a Djinn, the director noted how that “word [has] loosely [been] thrown around in South Asia,” and that it may just be the label that locals placed on those “who [are] different:”
“I think Djinn is a word that’s loosely thrown around in South Asia and I think we, in telling that story, we wanted to open up to the fact that anyone who is different, or anyone who has powers that come from, you know, unexplained sources could be mistaken for origins.”
This information was given to Kamala Khan thanks to the introduction to the Red Daggers, a local organization that aims to protect the bangle, and the wider world, from those who would cause harm.
Obaid-Chinoy pointed out how the group “could very easily be pulled into the rest of the MCU [in the future],” but for “the purpose of this series, they are making sure that [Kamala Khan’s] protected:”
“I think… much of [the Red Daggers], [and] Kareem, is germane to Pakistan, you know, and into that world, and they draw from the history of using daggers and the costumes and sort of everything is very germane to that part of the world. But I will say this, that the Red Daggers could very easily be pulled into the rest of the MCU for you know, something else for Kamala Khan. And for the purpose of this series, they are making sure that she's protected. And for the first time in the series, she knows that there are other people who have a higher power and a higher being will look like I will sound like and we have a higher calling and we're trying to keep her protected.
There was a great moment where Iman Vellani’s hero gets a very special vest, and it’s here that Kamala “feels like she’s part of something that’s greater:”
“And in that moment, where Waleed hands her the vest, it's a very special moment because she feels like she's part of something that's greater, but also that there are people who will have her back because she needs it. And quite literally in the next moment, they have her back. Yeah.”
As for that big action scene towards the end of the latest episode, she really “wanted to pull [in]” all of what Karachi had to offer on a visual level, which included “really vibrant trucks” and “seven people on a motorbike:”
“I love action and Gary Powell and I sort of work together in making sure that we use the environment as much as possible. Karachi has really vibrant trucks and buses and seven people on a motorbike and like a soda truck. And we wanted to pull all of that in. We wanted to put her on the streets. We wanted her to be running through it. We wanted it to be a big chase so that you feel like you're, you know, in the streets of Karachi sort of moving through. Yeah.”
The Sad Truth Behind the Partition
It's safe to say that a good majority of Marvel's Western audience is not educated on what The Partition is, and what actually went on during those dark events in history. Those traumatic happenings in the mid-1900s have been hinted at throughout the show, but now it finally seems like Kamala Khan herself will be going into the deep end.
Hopefully, wherever this fifth episode goes with the story, it's done in a respectful, informative, and entertaining manner. Given how even that final scene went down, it's hard to imagine the show will miss the mark now—especially after hearing how the director worked to recreate actual frames from the event.
It seems all of the creative energy shown off so far behind Ms. Marvel has proven that Marvel Studios knows what it's doing in its approach to bringing the character into the MCU.
One has to wonder how much Kamala's personal heritage and culture will inform her future appearances and storylines, such as her future team up with Carol Danvers herself.
Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney, with new episodes streaming every Wednesday.