Although there is much to praise about Ms. Marvel, many felt the series was lacking in the villain department. In this case, these villains were named the Clandestines, a group that was exiled from their home dimension. Led by Najma (Nimra Bucha), the outcasts needed Kamala Khan’s bracelet to return home.
The Illegals were introduced quite suddenly in Episode 3 as potential allies of Iman Vellani’s lead character. By the end of the episode, they were pretty much bloodthirsty and ready to forcefully get what they wanted.
After spending most of Episode 4, the group met their end when the veil between dimensions was cracked in Episode 5, shortly after their introduction. As he kills a few family members, Najma ends up sacrificing herself to close the rift, thus ending the rule of the Clandestines.
For many viewers, all of the emotional weight associated with this band fell flat. Now, a writer from the show’s first season has addressed these villain issues and what could have caused them.
Ms. Marvel Writer Addresses Villains
In an interview with Variety, Ms. Marvel Head writer Bisha K. Ali explained that a lot of things about the Clandestines were missing in the series finale, while also stating that Kamala Khan isn’t actually a jinn.
When asked if the show’s finale was ever going to be something like the Noor dimension trying to overtake Earth-616, Ali noted that it had never been in contention, but that “many things are missing” in the final regarding illegals.
Due to necessary changes due to COVID-19, the writer pointed out that “[audiences] Miss[ed] a lot about some of the parallels between two different types of families… [and] part of character development for DestinyClans:”
“No. I would say there’s a lot missing. There’s, for example, essays we’ve written about the underground, the Noor dimension, the red daggers and how it all ties into everything else There are huge swathes of character arcs that in an effort to be able to do this in the time we have, with the situation changed [due to] COVID – I think we miss a lot of parallels between the two types of families. I think we missed a lot about the character development of The Clandestines. I wish I could have shown you more of what we had.”
Outraged “that emotional climax [being[ about two woman [representing different families]”, it was also to show “Kamala entering her [defensive] struggle[ing] style:”
“So this emotional climax was about two women, a different type of mother and Kamala representing her type of family. And those two things were completely crashing against each other. This moment was all about Kamala coming into her fighting style, which is always defensive. She always talks to people first. Her focus is always, “Hey, how are you feeling? Can we fix this without anyone getting hurt?” You see that again in the finale as well. So it’s always been constructed that way, that this event where the universe is subsumed by another universe, that would not happen.
Ali admitted that since “[Ms. Marvel was] a six-hour TV show… [they were] can never have one universe completely subsumed by another:”
“Also, we’re a six-hour TV show. We can never have one universe completely subsumed by another. But the key function of that for me, emotionally for Kamala’s character, was understanding how she’s doing for deal with those tough situations when things get spicy when she gets home.”
The editor then confirmed that Kamala Khan “[is not a] jinn,” and that in his Muslim background growing up, “when something weird happened…it was sort of attributed to [being] the work of the jinn:”
“It’s worth saying they’re not jinn. In episode 4 they openly say they’re not jinn. I can’t speak for the whole Muslim world, but certainly d ‘after my childhood, when something weird happened, always like, ‘Oh, is that a jinn?’ If someone behaves strangely, it was somehow attributed to [being] the work of the jinn. Certainly in Pakistan, this is how we would talk about something supernatural, beyond our explanation. It’s been like that for generations.”
Ali pointed out that being called a jinn was “the worst thing [Kamala] could be… [because] it is, emotionally, a nightmare:”
“The other room is also in episode 3, when Najma tells him that people call us jinns – it’s the worst thing possible [Kamala] could be. It is, emotionally, a nightmare. That’s what brings her to the point where she says, “Well, I can’t be a superhero.” Because there is nothing worse than she can imagine being, because of the negative connotation we culturally have with jinns. So that’s really what we’re looking for.”
The Disney+ villain problem
Ms. Marvel is far from the only Marvel Studios Disney+ series to have issues with its antagonists. Many have complained about how most projects end up with underdeveloped villains. Not only are they undercooked, but shows usually end up introducing a new threat at the last minute — something Kamala’s show even ended up doing, in a way, with Kamran.
At least, based on the words of the show’s head writer, they expected to have a lot more meat on the metaphorical bones of the Illegals – if only the pandemic wasn’t here. COVID-19 has been responsible for many changes in the MCU, such as drastic adjustments to Wanda Vision‘s finale, which canceled an entire scene with a demon.
Perhaps if the situation had been different, all of the writer’s intentions would have been realized, and the undergrounds could potentially have become much more developed threats to Kamala.
Fingers crossed that fans are nearing the end of the negative impact of COVID-19 on what some Marvel Studios projects may have done.
Ms. Marvel is now available to stream in its entirety on Disney+.