Ms Marvel’s season 1 finale completely flips the concept of mutants in the MCU. What does this mean for the X-Men, and what happens next?
After Ms Marvel unexpectedly plotted a course for mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we attempt to answer the big questions. Telling Kamala Khan’s self-contained origin story, Ms Marvel arrived in relatively low-key fashion compared to past Disney+ MCU releases, revealing Iman Vellani’s character as a Clandestine descendant whose latent inner power was awakened by a mysterious bangle. Nothing overly uncanny there, but in the dying moments of Ms Marvel’s season 1 finale, Bruno revealed Kamala’s blood contained a mutation none of her ancestors possessed. And as that word “mutation” rang out, the iconic 1990s animated X-Men theme played in the background…
There we have it, then. Although another universe’s Professor X appeared in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan is officially the MCU’s first proper mutant – the first character confirmed to possess what will (presumably) become known as the X-gene. Needless to say, this is quite a big deal. It’s also a revelation few would’ve expected to come via Ms Marvel – not just because of modest viewership, but also because Kamala isn’t a mutant in the comics.
Kamala doesn’t seem overly interested in her mutation, but the MCU’s audience certainly is, having patiently awaited X-Men updates since Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox in 2019. From canon changes to future announcements, here are the key questions surrounding the future of mutants in the MCU.
How Much Ms Marvel Changes X-Men In The MCU
How Kevin Feige plans on integrating mutants into the MCU is the most common question surrounding the X-Men’s impending introduction. For over a decade, Marvel Studios has explored its fictional movie universe all the way from Earth to Knowhere, and not once has a single mutant appeared. The MCU must either create mutants from scratch, or address why they’ve never appeared until now. Get ready to dust off those “where were you when Thanos attacked?” accusations if Charlies Xavier spent Avengers: Infinity War teaching math inside a fancy manor house.
Ms Marvel confirming Kamala Khan as a mutant doesn’t exactly signpost which route Feige will take, but does at least narrow down the MCU’s options. We won’t, for example, see the wholesale mutant migration to Earth-616 from a foreign universe, despite a popular theory proposing just that. The X-Men themselves could still hail from the multiverse, but Kamala’s genetic quirk proves mutants as a species already exist within the MCU – most of them probably powerless and completely unaware of their gift.
Typically, Marvel mutants manifest their superpowers at a certain age, but Kamala only unlocked hers via the Noor bangle, hinting towards a major change between MCU and comic lore. It seems possessing the X-gene isn’t enough to awaken powers – an external trigger is required too. If so, existing MCU superheroes whose powers lack an obvious source may already be mutants – Monica Rambeau, for instance, might’ve unlocked her hidden mutant gene by passing through Scarlet Witch’s magic field surrounding Westview.
Also worth considering is that Kamala Khan isn’t merely the first confirmed mutant in the MCU, but the first mutant in the MCU ever. Maybe the unique combination of genetic mutation, Clandestine DNA, and a magic bangle combined to unleash her crystalline construct ability. By breaching that barrier, Kamala could’ve accidentally opened the floodgates to a wave of mutant awakenings across the world.
The MCU hasn’t provided nearly enough information to draw many concrete conclusions, but some crucial inferences can be made. Mutants exist within the MCU. The X-gene has most likely been floating through humanity’s gene pool for a while. A trigger is required to awaken the X-gene. And, finally, other heroes might already be mutants without knowing.
Where Will The X-Men Debut?
The MCU’s first mutant might’ve debuted on Disney+, but where will an actual X-Men character first appear? Though an MCU X-Men movie will inevitably happen at some point, it seems incredibly likely that we’ll encounter a familiar face from Xavier’s mob before then – either as a presence in another hero’s movie, or in a juicy post-credits sequence designed as a direct lead-in to X-Men.
Thanks to Ms Marvel, a recognizable X-Men character could feasibly appear in Captain Marvel 2 – officially titled The Marvels. Iman Vellani will star opposite Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau in the 2023 sequel, and since Kamala is the MCU’s only confirmed mutant, it makes a suspicious amount of sense that she’d attract more of her kind on the big screen.
Ms Marvel’s post-credits scene sees Captain Marvel and Kamala Khan weirdly swap places, and the Noor bangle is somehow responsible. One theory blames the swap on Carol Danvers investigating the Ten Rings and finding a counterpart relic that connects Shang-Chi’s weapon to Kamala’s bangle. If so, The Marvels could reveal extra details about how Iman Vellani’s character developed her powers, as Carol and Monica Rambeau research this strange quirk in Kamala’s biology… perhaps with the aid of a mutant expert.
As for the X-Men as a group, however, an X-Men movie is surely the only option. The sheer quantity of big names at Xavier’s School for the Gifted demands a cinematic adventure all of its own. One-off X-Men characters may cameo elsewhere first, but for the team as a whole, only a dedicated MCU movie makes sense.
Who Will Be The Next Mutant In The MCU?
Even before Ms Marvel’s shocking ending, MCU theories claimed Carol Danvers might’ve been a mutant all along, and her X-gene was activated by exposure to an Infinity Stone. Kamala Khan’s mutant origin story straps a rocket to that theory, while also mooting the possibility that Monica Rambeau possesses the very same mutation. The MCU’s next mutants could, therefore, be Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau, who discover their true nature after meeting Kamala Khan in The Marvels. On the other hand, the MCU’s mutant madness could continue even sooner…
Tenoch Huerta is all but confirmed as playing Namor the Sub-Mariner in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Though his biology isn’t exactly straightforward – he does possess human and Atlantean DNA, after all – Namor is technically a mutant in Marvel comic lore. Now Ms Marvel has broken taboo by uttering the infamous “M” word and playing that theme tune, Black Panther 2 will have a much easier time introducing Namor as a mutant, should the MCU’s live-action version follow comic convention.
In terms of the first X-Men member to appear in the MCU, Wolverine is the only logical choice. Ms Marvel inducted mutants into the MCU with surprisingly minimal fanfare. The X-Men will, therefore, surely arrive far more emphatically, and nothing says “emphatic” like introducing the Wolverine who takes over from Hugh Jackman (assuming Jackman himself isn’t involved, of course…) If any of Marvel’s classic X-Men appear in a post-credits sequence or as a surprise cameo, Wolverine with his surly attitude and famous sideburns is the strongest contender.
When Will The X-Men Be Announced?
With Marvel returning to San Diego Comic Con in style for 2022, the upcoming film and TV jamboree looks primed for a major X-Men announcement. Kevin Feige and his baseball cap will once again march into Hall H for a surprise-packed panel on Saturday, July 23 at 5pm PDT. Last time he was there, Feige dropped the word “mutants” onstage, but offered no elaboration whatsoever. Three years and a global pandemic later, the time to discuss Marvel’s next generation of live-action X-Men in detail might’ve finally arrived.
Indeed, an impending SDCC 2022 announcement would neatly explain why Ms Marvel was chosen as the place to debut mutants in the MCU. Thor: Love & Thunder and Ms Marvel are the closest releases to SDCC weekend, and between the two, the Earth-based Ms Marvel is a far more natural place for mutant happenings. Maybe the revelation of Kamala’s DNA was intended to prepare MCU fans for a much more significant X-Men announcement in San Diego two weeks later…
Will Ms Marvel Join The X-Men?
Revealing Ms Marvel as the MCU’s very first mutant immediately raises the possibility of a future alongside the X-Men, and while the interconnected nature of the MCU means Kamala Khan will inevitably cross paths with her fellow mutants sooner or later, becoming a fully-fledged member of Xavier’s crew seems unlikely. Since Kamala isn’t a mutant in Marvel’s comics, she also isn’t an X-Men character, associating more with the Avengers and other teams. Despite the dramatic last-second reveal, Ms Marvel deliberately pushes Kamala towards Carol Danvers and the Avengers, and she could even feature among the growing Young Avengers roster that includes the likes of Kate Bishop and Ironheart.
Kevin Feige would’ve surely also noted how Ms Marvel’s mutant reveal attracted a rather divisive reaction online. Audience misgivings will quickly be forgotten so long as the MCU gets the X-Men right, but that negative reaction gives Marvel some indication of how Ms Marvel joining the X-Men would go down like Kree music at a Skrull wedding. Fortunately, Ms Marvel distances Kamala from any future mutant association, as she describes Bruno’s biological analysis of her DNA as “just another label.”