If you’re a fan of Marvel comics, then you know that change is often the only consistent: characters and even major events are constantly retconned, often for bizarre editorial reasons. It’s not just older characters like Captain America or Wolverine, either: young characters like Ms. Marvel have recently gone through some major retcons. In her case, the character went from being an Inhuman in the comics to a mutant in her Disney+ show to a mutant in the comics.
Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel), debuted 10 years ago, and already her origin story has been retconned twice.
Don’t worry if that has your head spinning; we’ll break it all down for you. When the young Ms. Marvel was first introduced in Marvel comics, she was not a mutant (though as Forbes reports, this was the original intention of the creators).
Instead, Marvel made her into an Inhuman, and there was a method to their madness with this decision. This was back before Disney acquired Fox, and they hoped to make Inhumans their MCU replacements for the X-Men (which led to the Inhumans series and their prominent storyline in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
In other words, Marvel knew they had a potential hit new character with Ms. Marvel, and making her Inhuman meant they’d have no trouble eventually integrating her into the MCU. Then a funny thing happened: Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, meaning that it was only a matter of time before the X-Men would be introduced into the MCU.
After Disney re-acquired the movie rights to the X-Men, Ms. Marvel was changed to become a mutant instead of an Inhuman.
So far, the mutants’ introduction has been teased, including by a Patrick Stewart cameo in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and by the last-episode revelation in the Ms. Marvel television show that she is a mutant (complete with a brief musical homage to the 1992 X-Men animated series).
Why did Disney make Ms. Marvel a mutant in her Disney+ show? While doing so certainly made the character’s creators (Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson) happy, we think there is a decidedly more mercenary reason: the Inhumans had proven to be a big flop in the MCU, and Disney was now actively making plans to incorporate everyone’s favorite band of merry mutants into future movies.
By tying their fan-favorite newer character with a popular brand like the X-Men rather than an unpopular brand like the Inhumans, Disney stands to make more of a profit even while making future crossovers between Ms. Marvel and the X-Men easier.
Now, though, things have come full circle: Ms. Marvel died in the comics after a fight with the villain Rabin, sacrificing her life so that Mary Jane Watson could escape and live to model another day. Two months later (months when the comics mostly ignored her death), Marvel had Ms. Marvel resurrected by the X-Men on the island of Krakoa using their special technology that has helped mutantkind cheat death altogether. This confirms the character is a mutant, and after Emma Frost conveniently mindwipes the world, everyone forgets that the young mutant ever died in the first place.
After Kamala Khan was killed, she was resurrected by the X-Men and is now part of The New Mutants.
Why, then, are the Ms. Marvel comics making a weird retcon in order to turn this once Inhuman character into a mutant? In addition to giving the comics an interesting status quo, this retcon means that fans who watch the Ms. Marvel Disney+ show and then go buy one of her newer comics won’t be confused about whether she was a mutant or not.
Marvel comics have done the same thing over the years so that comics matched their recent movies: the comic Spider-Man once had some organic web shooters to match Sam Raimi’s films, and the character had a literal deal with the devil undid his relationship with Mary Jane, effectively returning them to a status quo that would be recognizable to those who had watched Spider-Man 3 that same year. It’s annoying to fans who enjoy previous comics continuity, but this recent Ms. Marvel retcon is just one more sign the character has made it to the big leagues.