The Ms. Marvel era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun, and the live-action debut of Kamala Khan is finally here. The reactions to Episode 1 of the new Disney+ streaming series have been overwhelmingly positive. Critics and fans praise the charming tone, the stunning visuals, and the organically authentic aesthetic of Ms. Marvel, but the main topic of conversation is the title character. Finally, Iman Vellani is bringing Kamala Khan to life and doing exactly what her comic book counterpart has been doing for nearly a decade, breaking barriers.
Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, has been touted as one of the most beloved Marvel Comics heroes in recent history. However, before reaching the tenth anniversary of her debut, this young IP has already become an award-winning graphic novel, a vital piece of the modern-day Marvel Universe, and the lead character of Marvel's Avengers video game.
The wunderkind that is Kamala Khan has been nothing short of a grand slam for Marvel Comics. And now, her debut in the biggest cinematic universe of all time. This is a special moment for creators Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel fans, and comic book lovers worldwide. It is also a historic moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to bring such a new character into this much bigger universe.
The Fastest Rising Star in Marvel History
With Episode 1 of Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan has broken an MCU record to become the most recently-originated Marvel Comics character to lead their own Marvel Studios movie or show.
Kamala Khan was first introduced in July of 2013 in Captain Marvel Vol. 7 #14. Just nine years later, she is headlining her own Disney+ series as one of the biggest names in the 2022 rookie class. Ms. Marvel breaks the record for the newest comic book character to title their own project by nearly 24 years!
Scott Lang's Ant-Man previously held the record with 2015's Ant-Man. Lang was first introduced in March 1979's issue of The Avengers #181. However, Jennifer Walters will jump Lang on the shortlist in August with the release of She-Hulk. Walters was first introduced in Savage She-Hulk #1 in February of 1980.
Between Khan and Lang, several Marvel Comics characters appear in the MCU, but never in the titular role. Shuri and Maria Hill were first introduced in 2005 in Black Panther Vol 4 #2 and The New Avengers #4.
America Chavez made her way onto this list just a couple of months ago in her appearance in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness. Kamala will join her as the only Marvel Comics character in the MCU that debuted after the universe's inception in 2008, debuting in 2011's Vengeance Vol 1 #1.
So Kamala now holds both records. She is the newest Marvel Comics character introduced into the MCU, beating out America Chavez by two years. And she is the newest Marvel Comics character to receive a movie or series, beating out Scott Lang by almost 24 years.
Needless to say, Marvel CCO Kevin Feige and his team could not wait to bring Kamala Khan into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Old Guard
To show the contrast of just how far back the catalog of Marvel Comics characters goes, it is worth looking at the oldest Marvel Comics characters to receive projects in the MCU.
Steve Rogers and James "Bucky" Barnes debuted in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941. Nearly 70 years later, they were introduced into the MCU in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger (with Barnes receiving his own project in 2021 with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.) Steve Rogers was introduced into the MCU almost two years before Marvel brought Kamala Khan to life in comics.
Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk rounds out the top 3 oldest comic book characters to receive an MCU project debuting in 1962's The Incredible Hulk #1. But Banner is not in the top 3 oldest comic characters to be introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
That honor belongs to the legend that it JAMES E. WOO! That is right; Jimmy Woo falls only behind Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes as the oldest Marvel Comics character brought into the MCU. Another fantastic feather in the cap of one of the most giant fan-favorite supporting characters.
Kamala Khan: The New Age Peter Parker
There is no controversy here. Marvel Studios has over 70 years of comic book history to choose from, and their most established players came early and often. Especially considering that the core member of The Avengers were the scraps left over from the late 90's Marvel IP sale that sent away Spider-Man, The X-Men, and others to different studios.
So with over two decades worth of characters between Scott Lang and Kamala Khan, and an extensive roster of prime mutants that haven't been touched yet, why is Ms. Marvel the first new millennium character to receive her own project?
Short answer: she is this generation's Peter Parker.
For so many reasons, Ms. Marvel was a risk when Marvel decided to launch the comic. First, new characters were having a hard time getting off the ground in the 2000s. Then, add that this was a teenage, Pakistani-American, Muslim, female spinoff superhero... the likelihood of success for Ms. Marvel was little-to-none.
But then Ms. Mavel #1 hit shelves and stunned the world. Some of the most popular comics in the 2000s, including a Spider-Man comic that made national news for featuring Barack Obama, only reached a 5th printing. Ms. Marvel #1 got to its 7th round of printing.
That type of reception is unheard of for a debut comic in the 2000s. Add in all the minority qualifiers of Kamala Khan; it's historic.
So why is Kamala Khan so famous to comic book readers? Peter Parker is a great reference point to answer that question.
In the 60s, most comic book readers were considered "nerds." And not nerds in 2022, who are the coolest people around. Stereotypical Hollywood nerds who were bullied, picked on, and forgotten about. This is what made Peter Parker arguably the most significant comic book character of all time. He represented the forgotten. He showed those who needed a confidence boost that anyone and everyone could be a hero.
This concept was reimagined in the 70s and 80s with X-Men and their representation of minority communities in race, religion, and sexual orientation.
This idea, mixed with expert-level writing, charm, and storytelling, made Kamala Khan a Gen Z representation of those who wanted to see someone like them in the pages of a Marvel comic.
That level of barrier-breaking took Kamala Khan on a rocket ship from the panel to console and now to the silver screen. If fans have learned anything about this character over her brief existence, more and more fans are about to fall in love with Kamala Khan and Ms. Marvel.