While the cast and crew gushed about their bonds with one another at Ms Marvel’s Los Angeles premiere at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre on Thursday (Jun 2), there was one more topic close to their hearts: Muslim representation on screen.
The six-episode series follows Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan, who’s a gamer, aspiring artist and avid fan fiction writer in Jersey City. She’s played by Pakistani-Canadian newcomer and real-life Marvel fan Iman Vellani.
Kamala’s dreams of joining the likes of her idol Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson) end up coming true when she gains the ability to harness cosmic energy, making Kamala the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) first Muslim superhero.
At the premiere, executive producer and director Adil El Arbi told The Hollywood Reporter (THR): “I think that now is the time to have movies and TV shows that represent the fandom. The fandom is very diverse, and they make Marvel great.
“And to have Iman Vellani — she’s a great big fan of Marvel and Iron Man is her favourite movie — and to have a character that resembles her, that’s very important.”
Actor Laith Nakli, who plays Kamala’s religious mentor Sheikh Abdullah added: “It’s a big moment for everyone. My nieces, my nephews, my cousins, my family overseas in Syria, all these kids are going to be able to see this and they’re going to be seeing people like them. It’s a big thing.”
For actress Zenobia Shroff, who stars as Kamala’s mother Muneeba in the series, joining the show was a poignant experience. She said to THR: “I came to this country 30 years ago, and I was told to change my name and white pass. Get an American accent. It was so far from anything like now.”
“So for this to have happened, it’s groundbreaking. It’s phenomenal. America is not a white country. And the populace has to reflect the art and vice versa.”
Ms Marvel will premiere on Disney+ on Jun 8. The series will also see a three-part theatrical release in Pakistan, as the streaming platform is unavailable there.