Warning: this story contains spoilers for Ms. Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe's newest superhero is... Night Light? When Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) makes her costumed crime-fighter debut, onlookers name the young marvel "Night Light," a childish moniker inspired by her ability to create purple-colored constructs of energy. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah have described Kamala's powers — unlocked by a bangle inherited from her great-grandmother Aisha — as "hard light," a cosmic energy that the Djinn Najma (Nimra Bucha) reveals originates in the Noor dimension.
In that realm, Najma and her people are known as the Clandestines. "We've been called Ajnabi, Majnoon, Unseen ... But what we're most commonly known as is Djinn," Najma tells Kamala in Episode 3, "Destined," enlightening the teen about the source of her cosmic superpowers.
If you expected Najma to utter the name "Inhuman," it's a reaction that Kamala Khan co-creator and Ms. Marvel supervising producer Sana Amanat anticipated.
"I switched over to Marvel Studios two and a half years ago. I came on for this project, specifically to shepherd it into production, and work with the writer's room that [head writer] Bisha [K. Ali] and her team put together," Amanat said in an interview with EW. "They were trying to steep the story in a different kind of mythos that was one linked to larger MCU stories, but also linked a little bit to the lore of Islamic and Asian mythology."
Amanat added: "My first thought when I came in was, 'Well, people are going to be really mad we changed these powers.'"
In the comics, Kamala's origin and powers are much different. Similar to Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four, Kamala is a polymorph with the ability of "embiggening": shrinking and stretching her body to great lengths, often manifesting in a giant fist that packs a punch. Created during an era when Marvel was downplaying the mutant X-Men in favor of the superhuman race called Inhumans, Kamala's latent Inhumanity is triggered by the DNA-altering Terrigen Mist.
Though the Kamala of the MCU has powers similar to DC's Green Lantern, the change was an effort to align Ms. Marvel's abilities with the cosmic powers of Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) in The Marvels.
"I was very aware of what we were walking into. But supervising producer Jenna Berger understood that the show needed to have a balance of what made the comic so special and unique, while at the same time evolving it and making it a true adaptation," Amanat explained. "That was [producer] Kevin [Feige's] first challenge to me. He was like, 'Can you adapt this? You're so close to the comic, do you think you can adapt this?' I think I took up to that challenge of saying, 'Okay, well, the thing that captivates me the most was this story about Kamala and her lineage and her past.'"
Amanat continued, "There were only a few issues that were done about it in the comics. I told Bisha, 'No matter what we do, the story of the show is this lineage,' which we didn't really delve into in the comics. Yet, there's a lot of things that they did pull from the comics that, so the essence of the comics are in the show. I think that's really how we found that balance."
New episodes of Marvel Studios' Ms. Marvel are streaming Wednesdays on Disney+.