The following contains spoilers for Ms. Marvel Episode 1, “Generation Why,” now streaming on Disney+.
Disney+’s Ms Marvel is already garnering rave reviews from critics, with many loving its authenticity, fun, action-comedy vibe, and especially how it opens the Marvel Cinematic Universe to include a vibrant teen show. What helps is that the show’s quite fluid, not afraid to alter lore to fit what’s happening in the movies at present, ergo why it seems Kamala’s powers have been altered away from Terrigenesis and the Inhumans.
However, certain elements are being used from the source material, such as Kamala’s dynamic with her family and her genius bestie, Bruno. Interestingly, following key events in the premiere, it seems the series is going to pull something big from the books, angling to remix Kamala’s most controversial arc from her.
The comics included an LGBT arc focusing on Kamala’s close friend, Nakia. In the books, the bully, Zoe, eventually broke up with Josh and got reacquainted with Kamala and Nakia. In time, she’d realize she was queer, eventually confessing feelings for Nakia. Unfortunately, Nakia was only interested in her as a friend of her, adding nuance to illustrate to teen readers not everything has a happy ending. Still, they all remained friends, standing by Kamala’s side of her.
On the TV series, though, the connection Zoe has is more towards Kamala. They first ran into each other in the stairway at school, with Kamala nervously complimenting Zoe’s jacket on her. She even had a wistful look as if she liked Zoe, who in return, complimented her on Kamala’s Arabic necklace. Things got a bit testy with Zoe bullying Kamala in the gym, but it changed at AvengerCon, where their common love for Carol Danvers’ Avengers cosplay stood out. On stage, Zoe adored Kamala’s cosplay, not to mention she’d want to find this mysterious savior after Kamala rescued her from a fall using her powers from her. Kamala saw an Asgardian Pride t-shirt at AvengerCon, so this may be a sign foreshadowing what’s to come in her journey of self-exploration of her.
Now, this would definitely be a bold move for Disney, which hasn’t given same-sex romances their full due. For example, Loki fleetingly mentioned his bisexuality, while Valkyrie’s arc got snipped in Thor: Ragnarök. Admittedly, Marvel Studios did move to course-correct with Phastos and his husband de ella in Eternalsbut Ms Marvel may be an attempt at something more dedicated and genuine. What’s worth mentioning is, while it’s not hard MCU-canon, Nico’s relationship with Karolina in Hulu’s Runaways felt progressive, so influence can be taken, especially as the teen audience was a large target demographic there.
should Ms Marvel pursue this course, it’ll be intriguing seeing Bruno, who likes Kamala, dealing with the possibly that she’s into Zoe, which would make more sense as Nakia’s not that present. In her brief screen-time of her, Nakia’s actually not a fan of Zoe, a former friend of her, so there could be high school discord to mine, with Nakia unsure if Zoe’s the right fit for Kamala. However, due to their love of Captain Marvel, Kamala and Zoe may help each other grow and mature, fleshing out something meaningful, per so many coming-of-age stories seen on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.
Ultimately, as the child of Pakistani immigrants who have Kamala’s future mapped out, it’ll be interesting to see the family’s reception to Kamala’s possible crush, as they’ll definitely be wary of cultural and societal backlash in this path they didn’t foresee . But again, as with Kamala gaining her abilities from her, this series is all about defying expectations, and finding one’s destiny. And in Kamala’s case, it may tie into something beneath the surface that’s more than just her ambitions of being a superhero.
To Zoe and Kamala’s story unfold, watch Ms. Marvel every Wednesday on Disney+.