When the news of Marvel's first-ever Muslim character broke out, the initial reactions didn't comprise a lot of questions, in fact, they sparked a lot of curiosity. How did Marvel top guys decide to dive headlong into inclusivity?
Ms Marvel, the Muslim character, first appeared in 2014 in comic books and now Ms Marvel goes a step further to be the first Muslim superhero to hit the screens. The upcoming web-series, premiering on Disney+Hotstar, will have an 18-year-old actor from Canada, Iman Vellani, essay the lead character of Kamala Khan. Will it mean the MCU fans will take diversity seriously too? Will it mean the decline of Islamophobia? All the reactions, questions and discussions on Marvel's newest onscreen superhero taken due note of, but one at a time.
A superpower for the new lady, please
Sure enough, the trollers couldn't help themselves, "Will she wear a burqa?" But the Marvel revealed, "In the course of becoming a local hero, Khan would encounter various peers in the super-powered community, always with enthusiasm and unbridled joy." Adding, "With an inhuman ability to alter shape and size, the newest Ms Marvel employs an idealistic attitude as much as any power to make the world a better place."
Meanwhile, the 18-year-old Iman Vellani essaying the lead role, confirmed on her newly created Instagram account, "Speechless and excited. Wish me luck."
Kamala Khan, the shape-shifter
For those already acquainted with the comic book character have their initial blanks filled in. Kamala Khan, who goes by the pseudonym Ms Marvel is a Pakistan-American girl living with her parents and brother in New Jersey. Not so much the broad outline of the character, but the fine nuances that make it in fact a better fit for the screens.
A geek in high school dealing with issues that high schoolers often do in rom-coms; boys, homework and parties. In 2013 when the character first came to life, Marvel officials emphasized how Kamala Khan's real superpower lay in her identity instead.
Like we said trollers gonna troll, at the time several in the industry sidelined the effort as a gimmick to tap into the new niche market, that of Muslims.
Will it suppress Islamophobia?
With due respect to all the platforms, there's no denying that movies can do what textbooks and activists never really can. Effortlessly initiate a more inclusive and tolerant society. Women superheroes and superheroes of color rarely carried a TV series or a film solely on their shoulders before. But then Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther happened in the past couple of years and Marvel Cinematic Universe got the taste of both commercial success and critical approval.
While a lot depends on how the character pans out, but the President of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige reportedly plans on letting Iman be the face of not just the TV series but also the future Marvel films. Several fans are assured of the Marvel Studios taking the character seriously.
"If she'll be a part of future Marvel films, that means Muslim woman superhero will have the all the mainstream attention and admiration that other Marvel superheroes have," wrote a user on social media.
Oscar nominee and Pakistani American Muslim himself, Kumail Nanjiani's tweet resonated with several from his Diaspora,
"I just saw they cast Ms Marvel and legit got teary eyed, Congratulations Iman Vellani! Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included. I can't wait."
While many might cast their doubts on the studios' intentions, but there is no ignoring Marvel's underlying message, heroes and superheroes can come from any community. And perhaps one day, Ms Marvel will put an end to Islamophobia.