On Disney+, the "Miss Marvel" series features the first Muslim superheroine

On Disney+, the “Miss Marvel” series features the first Muslim superheroine

It is an event that goes beyond the borders of the imaginary world of the cinematic world of Marvel (the famous MCU). On June 8, the Disney+ platform broadcasts the first episode of the mini-series Miss Marvel. In addition to her superpowers, the heroine Kamala Khan has a particularity: she is of Muslim faith. A fact that might seem trivial for an American citizen, but which constitutes a first with strong symbolism for a main character of Marvel.

Miss Marvel is the generic name of several super heroines whose adventures are told since 1977 in theMarvel universe. Since 2014, Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old American from a Pakistani family, has taken on the heroine’s costume in comics. It was the editor Sana Amanat who gave it life by drawing inspiration of her own childhood as a Muslim American. Screenwriter G. Willow Wilsona convert to Islam, later developed the character of Kamala Khan.

In the series broadcast on Disney+, viewers dive into the daily life of this high school student (played by actress Iman Vellani) who lives and studies in Jersey City, a medium-sized city located in New Jersey across from New York. Kamala Khan’s great passion is the Avengers, Marvel’s group of superheroes. Along with Bruno Carrelli, her best friend with a high IQ and insane skills for inventing connected objects, she secretly conspires against her parents to hide and go to AvengersCon, a costume party for fans of the Marvel comics making the event in Jersey City.

In the series developed by Marvel Studios, Kamala Khan acquires her powers in a radically different way from what readers may have read in the comics. She does not become Miss Marvel by coming into contact with a cloud of teratogen, but by accidentally coming into possession of a mysterious bracelet. This scenario allows Kamala Khan to be presented a little more as an ordinary student, who struggles with classic existential questions for a young girl of her age.

Kamala Khan learns to master her power with the help of Bruno Carrelli.   (COURTESY OF MARVEL STUDIOS)

“I wanted to create a story for all the little girls who don’t find themselves in the media, especially in popular culture and entertainment programs. Kamala Khan is not only Muslim and she is not meant to represent all Muslims. She just represents a perspective”confided Sana Amanat to the newspaper The world in 2013.

The family life of Kamala Khan is a major narrative axis in the series. In the first two episodes that we were able to see in preview, the rebellion of the high school student against the choices that her parents want to impose on her counts as much as the discovery of the magic bracelet. Her mother would like her to follow the same path as her brother – a religious marriage to respect the precepts of Islam and a life without extravagances. This context is used fairly fairly by the directors, who don’t overdo it with this aspect of Marvel’s “first Muslim heroine”.

The beginning of the mini-series is therefore promising. The conflict between the teenager, who wants to satisfy her passion for drawing and superheroes, and her parents who demand that she follow her studies with discipline, will speak to many teenagers. Humor, which infuses the well-crafted dialogues, provides additional depth to the adventures of Miss Marvel.

The other success of screenwriter Bisha K. Ali is to have made Jersey City an inverted mirror of the skyscrapers of New York, which appear in the background of the series. Far from the worn-out clichés of New York life, the setting of which punctuates many superhero films, everything seems banal and quite realistic in the streets of Jersey City. A city that Kamala defines as quite “crappy”.

The heroine Kamala Khan lives with an American family originally from Pakistan.   (DANIEL MCFADDEN / MARVEL)

Miss Marvel is not expected to disappear after the six episodes of the miniseries, which installs the teenager in the MCU universe. She should thus reappear at the cinema in the film The Marvelsscheduled for 2023. A film that will see her join forces with those of Carol Danvers’ characters (Captain Marvel) and Monica Rambeau (seen in the series Wanda Vision).

The “Miss Marvel” series (six episodes) is broadcast on the Disney+ streaming platform from June 8, 2022.

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