Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2021 by Jeremy Mathai
The Marvel Cinematic Universe will soon be expanding even more … and for once, we don’t mean in terms of shared universe potential. Ever since the first appearance of Ms. Marvel (aka Kamala Khan) in Marvel comics in 2013, fans have clamored for the Pakistani-American’s official live-action reinterpretation in the MCU. Those fans are getting their wish, with the previous announcement that newcomer Iman Vellani has been cast in the highly sought-after role for the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel. She’s now speaking up about Kamala Khan joining the MCU.
Vellani, who is Pakistani and raised by Muslim parents, may only be 19 with no other professional credits to her name, but she’s already being featured in Variety’s “Power of Young Hollywood” issue that spotlights influential figures who are 25 and younger. Included are her brief quotes on the responsibility she feels in portraying such an important character and her impressively mature approach to handling that pressure.
“The fact that the show is being made and they’re including this character in the MCU is [what’s important]. I don’t really have to go out of my way and talk about being a Muslim and being Pakistani — it all comes out in the show. People seeing a person like me involved in a project as big as this is, I think, inspiring enough.”
This could easily be perceived as some generic PR-speak that the rookie actor has been coached to respond with, but that would belie a certain weight and nuance present within these words. Something tells me that Vellani is going to handle going from virtual anonymity to becoming the next big MCU hero with a fair amount of grace.
The Real Inspiration
As much as diversity and inclusiveness has been prioritized in media throughout recent years, talking to actual people of color and other marginalized communities reveals that many individuals really don’t like to make that aspect a central part of their identity. It’s present and accounted for, no doubt, but the real achievement comes from the work we’re put in a position to accomplish. Getting our foot in the door, so to speak, counts just as much as simply being who we’ve always been.
That’s the main takeaway I get from Iman Vellani’s quotes here, emphasizing that the true importance of her casting is the fact that the show has been greenlit, funded, and (ideally) written with all the care and attention to detail that the character’s comics have been. It’s a subtle distinction, perhaps, but it’s certainly encouraging that Vellani already seems to recognize and understand how inspiring her appearance will be for countless fans who get to see such a young person with her specific background suit up in all her costumed glory.
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