Why is the section so important to Miss Marvel


WARNING: Spoilers for Ms. Marvel episode 2

Ms. Marvel‘s episode 2, “Crushed,” directly references a historical partition, which seems to be an important part of Kamala’s identity. In its span of two episodes, Ms. Marvel strikes the right balance between Kamala’s exploration of her coming-of-age hijinks and superhero shenanigans. While at it, the show purposefully strays away from the original comics and makes some significant changes to Ms. Marvel’s superpowers and origins.

The first two episodes of Ms. Marvel are replete with subtle references to Hindi music, Bollywood movies, Quranic verses, and Pakistani Islamic culture. These sociocultural nods not only play a vital role in fleshing out Ms. Marvel’s Pakastani American characters but also tie down to Kamala’s complex identity as a superhero. But among all these narrative and visual cues, the mysterious polarizing fables about her great-grandmother during the Partition seem to heavily impact her superhero timeline and persona.

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Although episode 2 only scratches the surface of Kamala’s heritage and its connections to her newfound superhero abilities, it clearly establishes that the origins of Ms. Marvel’s powers harken way back to a real historic event that changed the lives of many Pakistani families. Sana Amanat, a co-creator of Ms. Marvel’s character, further confirmed this in an interview (via The Direct) by revealing that the “bigger idea” behind changing the superhero’s powers from the comic books was to add a “sense of history” to her narrative. This unique quasi-historical approach adds multiple layers to Ms. Marvel’s characterization and, in turn, allows her to find her own place in MCU’s massive roster of superheroes.

What Is The Partition?

During typical dining table banter, Kamala’s father recalls the Partition and its impact on Muneeba’s family. He says that while his family had lived in Karachi “for generations,” Muneeba’s family moved there after the Partition. Recounting the same in Ms. Marvel, episode 2, Muneeba adds, “The British left us with a mess…” Kamala’s parents, here, are referring to the partition of India that ensued in August 1947, soon after the British departed the subcontinent. According to historians, the British Raj used the policy of divide and rule to inject communal venom into secular India, which created divides between the Hindu and Muslim populations. As a result, soon after independence from British rule, India was left partitioned into two independent nation-states: Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan.

An escalation of violence after the partition forced Muslim and Hindu communities to migrate to regions that accommodated their respective religious majorities to seek refuge. While Muslims moved to East (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan, Hindus made their way to the new Republic of India. As Kamala’s father Yusuf (played by Mohan Kapur) accounts, the partition divided families and uprooted homes, and also led to the forced displacement of many between the religious lines of the newly-constituted dominions. It is estimated that millions lost their lives during the division and the consequences of its violent nature still linger between the two nations.

Why The Partition Is So Important To Ms. Marvel’s Identity

Kamala’s father, Yusuf, mentions that Muneeba’s family had to get on the last train moving out of their city during the partition. Muniba’s mother, Sana, who was only a child then, got separated from her family at the railway station but somehow found her way back to her father by following “a trail of stars.” Sana’s mother (Kamala’s great-grandmother) could not make it to the train and was never heard from again, but it is likely that she was the one who helped Sana find her father. The “trail of stars” alludes to Kamala’s glossy energy-based powers, which suggests that her great-grandmother, too, was the bearer of the same bangle and probably used the same powers to guide Sana to the train.

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Considering all the urban legends and rumors surrounding Muneeba’s grandmother’s identity, it seems like she was somewhat of a vigilante herself. On the surface, this could mean that being a superhero is in Kamala’s blood and she has rightfully inherited her great grandmother’s bangle. But more than that, Kamala’s complex family history and origins, which date back to the Partition, paint a clearer picture of why she struggles with her own identity. Even though she is a first-generation immigrant, she seems to carry the weight of the generational displacement and trauma of her ancestors through her father’s stories and mother’s anxieties. Not to mention, now that she possesses a family heirloom, she is literally and metaphorically being blessed—and haunted—by the ghosts of her ancestors.

Unlike her parents, who are well aware of where they hail from, Kamala only knows little fractions of her ancestry through her father’s dining table fables. She seems to be in a liminal space where she can neither buckle under her mother’s anxieties nor defy them and reach her full potential as a superhero. Therefore, just as T’Challa in Black Panther garners a fresh perspective after he learns all about the mistakes of his ancestors, Kamala will learn to empathize with her mother’s struggles and better understand her identity as Ms. Marvel once she is well-versed with her great-grandmother’s stories from the Partition and beyond.