Kamala Khan is the Best Part of Marvel’s Avengers
The story campaign of Marvel's Avengers is a ton of fun; that's no small thanks to its best character, Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel.
Over a year ago when it finally had its big reveal, Marvel’s Avengers didn’t exactly make the best first impression. The long-in-development superhero title was revealed not too long after Avengers: Endgame came into theaters and capped off a series of films that were over a decade in the making. This of course put Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics in the unfortunate situation of having to go up against the cultural mindset of these iconic characters formed by the MCU, and was a situation that the title has had to work hard to break out of, alongside its “games as a service” presentation. However, after playing through the full campaign of the game, it’s safe to say that Marvel’s Avengers manages to escape the MCU’s shadow over the franchise by delivering its own unique take on a world that many of us have come to know through the films.
While I had some reservations after how the game was initially revealed last year, I was still excited to see how Crystal Dynamics could take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and tell a new story with these characters outside of how we’ve seen them on-screen for the last decade. I’m happy to say that the story campaign in Marvel’s Avengers is a lot of fun, and the campaign almost entirely owes that to its breakout star, Kamala Khan.
Though the initial trailers and marketing for the game have very much painted Marvel’s Avengers as a tried-and-true “Avengers game,” the real star and focal point of the story is Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Though the campaign inevitably gives some of the spotlight to its marquee heroes like Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, and more, what makes the story work so well is the fact that Kamala Khan is not only a hero in her own right, but feels like the heart and soul of how Crystal Dynamics wanted to depict this world and these characters.
The beginning of the campaign in Marvel’s Avengers starts with the “A-Day” scenario that we’ve seen several times before in gameplay demos and in the recent beta, where the Avengers gather for a celebration of their new headquarters in San Francisco. Kamala is introduced as the winner of a fan contest and attends the festivities with her father, and little time is wasted to establish her as a capital F, capital G “Fan Girl” of the Avengers.
The opening section of the game as Kamala has you exploring the A-Day celebration on a quest to gather different comic books to enter the VIP section of the celebration by completing several games and activities. Right away, Kamala’s infectious admiration and love of the Avengers makes this opening section not only a fun setpiece–along with a ton of easter eggs for Marvel fans–but one of the most interesting ways that Marvel’s Avengers sets up and introduces the heroes further into the campaign.
Kamala barely contains herself when she encounters Captain America, Black Widow, and Thor, giddy with excitement at the fact that they all read her winning entry for a fan fiction competition. She looks on in awe at all of the different Avengers memorabilia and items on display at the A-Day celebration, reciting facts and quips about them that she’s surely drawn to memory. Right away, Kamala introduces us to these characters in a way that is not only charming and refreshing, but speaks to the way that Crystal Dynamics’ take on these characters is different than how we’ve seen them before. Instead, Marvel’s Avengers captures the excitement and love that so many of us have for these characters, and it’s all shown through the eyes of Kamala Khan in a genuine, human way.
Though Kamala very much is meant to be the sort of “eyes of the audience” throughout the campaign of Marvel’s Avengers, the story doesn’t lose focus on her once the rest of the Avengers are introduced into the narrative. Picking up five years after the events of A-Day with a now older Kamala, who is coming into her own with her ability to “embiggen,” she embarks from Jersey City to find and reassemble the Avengers throughout different parts of the US. Given the traumatic events that took place on A-Day, the Avengers are left broken and disbanded, with Kamala being the driving force to bring them back together to take on AIM, a nefarious organization that is capturing and experimenting on Inhumans across the world.
Kamala eventually reconnects with the Avengers throughout the campaign, putting an interesting perspective on how she witnesses the heroes in their various fallen states compared to how she idolized them at the game’s beginning. But most of all, Marvel’s Avengers takes time to not only reflect on the inner struggles of each of the Avengers, but for Kamala herself. As someone that felt like she was an outsider that could never fit in due to her abilities, Kamala right away draws empathy for her struggles with acceptance and embracing what makes her different. Her conversations with the first Avenger she recruits, Dr. Bruce Banner, brings that idea even further as he encourages and supports her, along with providing some of the game’s most memorable (and humorous) scenes.
As someone that only had a cursory knowledge of Kamala Khan’s history in the Marvel universe, more than anything I’m grateful that Marvel’s Avengers introduced her to me and, likely, a ton of other people. From her writing and performance, to how her transformation into Ms. Marvel comes together by the campaign’s end, Kamala Khan is truly the highlight of playing through Marvel’s Avengers and brings its story together in a compelling way that I didn’t expect.
We knew that Kamala would play a significant part in the game’s story before, though its prior trailers and gameplay demos have largely kept her role hidden compared to her more well-known counterparts. In a way, it’s a bit of a shame that she didn’t have a bigger part of the spotlight heading into launch, but after playing through the campaign, it’s safe to say that Kamala Khan is the true hero of Marvel’s Avengers.