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No Spider-Man? No problem. Ms. Marvel is here to save the MCU

By now, you’ve heard the news: Spider-Man broke up with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony says it’s over. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige says it’s over. Spider-Man himself, Tom Holland, says it’s over. Whether you think everyone will end up OK or that the Sony-Disney split spells doom for this iteration of Spidey, the webbing is on the wall. Spider-Man is gone.

Thankfully, Marvel has an alternate in waiting, and it’s time for her to come off the bench. At the 2019 edition of Disney’s semiannual fan convention, D23, Marvel Studios announced that a TV series starring Ms. Marvel, one of Marvel Comics’ hottest new characters, is coming to Disney+ and could move to the big screen afterward. If you know the comics, you know why that’s exciting. Teenage superhero Kamala Khan has a lot in common with the MCU’s Peter Parker. If the webslinger isn’t sticking around, Ms. Marvel could be the next best thing.

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is one of the most popular Avengers for a reason. He’s a key part of the MCU, and he’ll be impossible to replace. His exit leaves a big void. Here’s why Ms. Marvel is the perfect hero to help fill it.

First, who is Kamala Khan?

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Following a secret cameo in 2013’s Captain Marvel No. 14, Kamala Khan officially debuted in G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel No. 1. At the beginning of the story, Kamala was a regular 16-year-old girl from Jersey City, New Jersey. She argued with her parents. She struggled to fit in at school. She constantly wrestled with her strict Muslim upbringing, especially in the face of everyday temptations like alcohol and bacon.

All of that changed when Kamala snuck out to a party and was exposed to a cloud of Terrigen Mist, the same substance that gives Marvel’s Inhumans their special abilities. As it turns out, Kamala has some Inhuman genes, and when she emerged from her Terrigen cocoon, she had superpowers. Before long, Kamala adopted the name Ms. Marvel and took it upon herself to protect Jersey City from threats of all kinds.

As a polymorph, Kamala can change shape and size as she sees fit. She can stretch her limbs like Mr. Fantastic, shrink and grow like Ant-Man, alter her appearance on a whim, and increase the mass of her hands and feet to deliver super-strong punches and kicks. She has a Wolverine-like healing factor, and when she uses her powers, she glows in the dark.

While Wilson calls Ms. Marvel a “second-string hero” in the “second-string city,” Kamala became a fan favorite almost immediately. The first collection of Wilson and Alphona’s Ms. Marvel won a Hugo Award for best graphic story in 2015, and Ms. Marvel series have been nominated for numerous comic industry honors. Ms. Marvel appears in video games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 and Square Enix’s upcoming Avengers title, and she’s a primary cast member on Marvel Rising, Marvel’s female-centric animated series. Marvel’s true believers love her, and Disney has been touting her hard. Kamala’s MCU debut was only a matter of time.

Revenge of the nerds

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Both Ms. Marvel and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man are high school students. With Spidey no longer in the picture, Kamala is the only character who can bring a teenage perspective to the MCU. Like Parker, Kamala’s personal life is just as important as her superhero persona, and her attempts to balance the two are the main source of drama in her stories.

But Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel have more in common than their age. Both of them are also huge nerds. Peter repairs old computers. Kamala leads a guild in a fictional MMORPG called World of Battlecraft. Kamala is a big superhero fan, too. She keeps close tabs on all of her favorite heroes, devours superhero comics and video games, and reads and writes Avengers fan fiction (including, occasionally, stories starring herself).

Basically, Kamala is one of us. So is the MCU’s Spider-Man. Remember Peter’s reaction in Captain America: Civil War when Tony Stark appears in his living room? How he geeks out over Falcon’s wings and The Winter Soldier’s metal arm? How awkwardly excited he is to meet Captain America, even though it’s midfight? Kamala would react the same way.

As the Avengers’ resident teen everyman, Peter Parker was a great role model for younger viewers and the perfect point-of-view character for the entire audience. Now that he’s gone, Kamala Khan is the only one who can fill both roles. Thankfully, she’s more than up to the task.

The legacy factor

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Kamala and the MCU’s Peter don’t just have similar personalities. They have parallel character arcs, too. Spider-Man enters the MCU as an enthusiastic but inexperienced newbie. Over the course of five films, Iron Man makes him into an Avengers-worthy hero. The story that began when Tony Stark made an unexpected stop by Peter Parker’s apartment in Civil War ends in Spider-Man: Far From Home with Parker ready to carry on Iron Man’s legacy. It’s one of the best stories that Marvel has ever told.

Well, Kamala has her own superhero idol: Carol Danvers, best known these days as Captain Marvel. Kamala isn’t subtle about it, either. In the comics, Ms. Marvel is the name that Carol used before she became Captain, and Kamala chooses it in order to honor her hero.

Ms. Marvel’s costume has the same red, blue, and yellow color scheme as Captain Marvel’s. When the two heroes finally teamed up, Carol gave Kamala a pendant that combined their two logos, becoming Ms. Marvel’s de facto mentor. When Ms. Marvel sided against Captain Marvel in Civil War II, it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done.

Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers is poised to be a big player in the MCU going forward, and giving her a teenage protege could be a great way to bring the cosmic hero down to earth. Hey, it worked for Iron Man. It’ll work for Captain Marvel, too.

Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel sittin’ in a tree…

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Ms. Marvel isn’t just friends with Spider-Man. She’s close with all different kinds of Spider-people. In the comics, Peter Parker is significantly older than Kamala. Their relationship is friendly, not romantic. Still, Kamala’s favorite superhero-ship is Spider-Marvel (Spider-Man and Captain Marvel). Given how Kamala feels about Carol Danvers, that’s no small thing.

On the other hand, Miles Morales and Kamala Khan are almost exactly the same age, and they had mutual crushes on each other while they were both members of the teenage superhero team The Champions. That never panned out, but Ms. Marvel has fought alongside both Spider-Men numerous times, and she’s a trusted ally of both. In recent issues of Marvel Team-Up, Peter and Kamala even switched bodies, giving the two Avengers a deeper understanding of one another.

In other media, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Gwen (also known as Ghost-Spider) are both founding cast members of Marvel Rising, a series of animated projects starring Marvel’s female characters. Alongside characters like Spider-Gwen and Spider-Man‘s Mary Jane Watson, Ms. Marvel has become one of the most popular members of Marvel Rising‘s Secret Warriors, even among people who have never picked up a comic book.

Kamala Khan isn’t a Peter Parker clone. Her Pakistani heritage gives her a perspective on day-to-day life in the Marvel Universe that you can’t find anywhere else, and unlike Spider-Man, she’s not burdened by guilt. To Peter, supe-heroics are a burden. To Kamala, they’re a dream come true.

We’ll miss Spider-Man, and it’s a shame that we’ll never see him team up with Ms. Marvel in the MCU. They have great chemistry in the comics, and the pair would work great on the big screen. With the Sony-Disney deal seemingly dead (if not fully buried), however, Marvel is in need of Spider-Man’s successor.

Look no further than Disney+ in the coming years. Ms. Marvel is the one and only choice.

Chris Gates
Christopher Gates lives in Los Angeles, CA and writes about movies, TV, video games, and other pop culture curiosities. In…
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