Sana Amanat’s Ms. Marvel has been a source of inspiration and tolerance ever since her 2013 comic debut.
Call it whatever you want to; a dainty marketing ploy, a cash-grab on the modern world’s trend of political correctness, or an honest depiction of an individual struggling with forced labels, but as it stands, Marvel Studios President – Kevin Feige – seems to have his sights set on making a Marvel Comic Universe film about the Captain Marvel-inspired teenage heroine, Ms. Marvel. "It's definitely – sort of – in the works. We have plans for that one once we've introduced Captain Marvel to the world."
Marvel is planning to do Miss Marvel after Captain Marvel y’all— R O D Y ⚡️ IW SPOILERS (@StaarksHeart) May 12, 2018
Muslims. Prepare to finally be represented. pic.twitter.com/SKFofLDmBt
The young heroine’s feature film, if all goes all, should be slated for release after the MCU’s upcoming Captain Marvel epic starring Brie Larson. Reactions to the announcement have been varied thus far, with fans of all creeds and backgrounds (especially Pakistanis) the world over rejoicing over the concept. Others were (understandably) concerned over a slew of suggestions that Indian Actress Priyanka Chopra’s portrayal of the heroine, which doesn’t really make much sense; seeing as she’s neither Pakistani, nor is she Muslim, and she’s well above 16 years of age.
Its rare to get stories about young Muslim girls. Ms Marvel we need you. pic.twitter.com/9OSKaRybWt— Farrah Khan (@farrah_khan) May 12, 2018
Preliminary reactions here in Egypt seem to be split between people generally excited to see what happens, and others who find the “Muslim” tag to be nonsensical; with comments the likes of “What does she do? Pray before she flies off listening to Sami Yousef?” and “On what basis do you call her a Muslim? Does she pray or fast? Is she veiled? This kind of thing is an affront to God.”
“What does she do? Pray before she flies off listening to Sami Yousef and Sheikh Ali Gomaa”
For those of you unaware of who or what Ms. Marvel even is; Kamala Khan - a 16-year-old Pakistani-American resident of New Jersey – who discovers that she possesses “Inhuman” genes – dormant genes in ordinary people that trigger super powers when active - after a supernatural event in the Marvel Universe. Having been granted extraordinary shapeshifting abilities (explains the giant fist), she dons the mantle of Ms. Marvel – taking after her idol, Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers).
On the point of the “message” behind Amanat’s choice of a Muslim-American teen, she expressed that the series came from a "desire to explore the Muslim-American diaspora from an authentic perspective." According to co-creator and writer, G. Willow Wilson (a Muslim convert), Kamal fights both supervillains and her own culture, a point which she puts into perspective more eloquently than I ever could; “"This is not evangelism. It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith. Her brother is extremely conservative, her mom is paranoid that she's going to touch a boy and get pregnant, and her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor."
“As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn't preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It's about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It's a struggle we've all faced in one form or another, and isn't just particular to Kamala because she's Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself.” – Sana Amanat.
Kamala’s costume was heavily inspired by Pakistan’s national (gender-neutral) dress, the Shalwar Kameez, and beyond portraying a distant member of a deeply historic part of the world, her cultural impact has been nothing short of exemplary. In January of 2015, fans of Ms. Marvel took to spraying images of the Khan over anti-Islamic advertisements in San Francisco put up by the American Freedom Defense Initiative – who had gone to put Islam and Nazism on the same plane. The toxic ads were also sprayed with messages such as “Stamp out Racist,” “Islamophobia hurts us all, “ and “Free speech isn’t a license to spread hate.”
Only time will tell how the film’s choice of cast as well as overall quality will pan out, but until then, maybe folks all around should pick up a few Ms. Marvel comics and see for themselves what this young lady’s trials and tribulations are like, and whether or not they can see themselves in Kamala Khan.
Images from Marvel Comics.