Ms. Marvel Embiggens the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Sara Kuzhikandathil, Contributing Writer

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On August 23, 2019, Marvel Comics announced at Disney’s D23 Expo that Kamala Khan (AKA Ms. Marvel) will star in her own Disney+ television series. This makes Kamala not only the first Muslim superhero to have her own comic book, but also the first to have her own television show within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Kamala Khan was created five years ago by author G. Willow Wilson and illustrator Adrian Alphona as a part of Marvel’s efforts to diversify their superheroes from the classic middle-aged white males. Marvel began to vary the ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and other aspects of their characters to more accurately reflect the diversity seen in the real world and target a larger audience. As Wilson mentioned in a September 2019 National Public Radio interview, comic book audiences are becoming more varied, and “it’s important for comic book readers of all backgrounds to be able to see some story that they can relate to”. With a growing interest in comics from young adults, people of color, and women, some of Marvel’s main superheroes are currently being replaced by a younger, more diverse cast. Iron Man will become an African American college student; Thor, a woman fighting cancer; and Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. 

Kamala is a Muslim, Pakistani-American teenager from Jersey City who, like any other teenager, is trying to balance her social life with her parents’ expectations, and discover her identity and place in the world. She admires Marvel’s famous superheroes, and especially idolizes Captain Marvel. After unexpectedly gaining shapeshifting and healing superpowers of her own, Kamala takes on the moniker “Ms. Marvel” as an ode to her hero, who had used the name before assuming the mantle of Captain Marvel. As Kamala’s story progresses and she strives to become a hero worthy of her title, she discovers more about herself, as both a person and a hero.

The Ms. Marvel comics with Kamala Khan have been well received. A year after she was introduced, the first volume received the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. The series also won the Dragon Award for “Best Comic Book” at DragonCon in 2016. In August of 2019, author G. Willow Wilson and illustrator Nico Leon were winners of the American Book Award for the ninth volume of Ms. Marvel. As a result of these positive reactions to the series and her upcoming television show, Ms. Marvel may become an established character in Marvel’s future, and pave the way for other diverse characters to rise to prominence.