Kamala Khan, a 16-year old Muslim, Pakistani-American character from Jersey City will be taking over our screens in the upcomings months. Also known as the superhero “Ms. Marvel” in Marvel’s comics, she has the ability to shape shift.
Marvel Studios revealed that Kamala Khan will get her own live-action television Disney+ series at the D23 convention in California in August 2019. Titled “Ms. Marvel”, the series will be produced by Marvel Studios and written by British writer Bisha K. Ali. It is said to tie directly into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films – the show will share continuity with Marvel’s latest films, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, as well as future feature films. This makes sense, given that Kamala Khan’s superhero name is a tribute to Captain Marvel, who headlined the first female-led superhero film in the MCU. The series is expected to be released in 2022.
In anticipation for Khan’s appearance in Disney+ series, a video game featuring the character has also been announced less than two years before her TV appearance.The game’s publisher, Square Enix, announced that the next Marvel Avengers game would include Kamala Khan as one of its main playable characters and will make her central to the plot. This received praise from fans and industry insiders.
Putting Kamala Khan at the forefront of superhero television and gaming comes as a result of Marvel’s push for more diversity and representation in its various outlets. In addition to the successful 2018 feature film Black Panther, which consisted of primarily Black cast and crew, Marvel continues to diversify its production both on and off screen with future films such as The Eternals and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings and Blade.
Representation remains important in shaping and influencing the cultural identities of children growing up as part of a minority culture. For many adults today, racial, religious and/or cultural representation on any form of media while growing up was generally not readily available. Maria Afsar, a 25 year-old gamer, said that Khan’s video game appearance was something she has been waiting for “her whole life.” She first heard of Ms Marvel a few years ago and thought it was “so cool” that she had a background the same as her, being Pakistani, Muslim, and a girl.
Kamala Khan’s comic character was co-created in 2014 by Marvel editor and director Sana Amanat. As a Muslim-American herself, Sana Amanat wanted to create a character young girls of a similar background could identify with and look up to. Kamala’s costume also represents her cultural identity.
“I think it’s absolutely insane that Kamala is in one of the biggest Marvel games that we’ve done,” she said during the promotion of the game. “The fact that she’s the entry point character in this game makes so much sense. People from all backgrounds can relate to her.”