Kevin Feige and Marvel have never been ones to shy away in recent years from exploring cultural diversity. The MCU’s latest Disney+ series, ‘Moon Knight proved that in fine fashion, and with its newest entry, Ms. Marvel, it reinforces their conviction by introducing the MCU’s first Muslim superhero.

The original series introduces Kamala Khan, a Muslim American teenager growing up in Jersey City. An avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, Kamala is a Super Hero mega-fan with an oversized imagination – particularly when it comes to Captain Marvel. Yet Kamala feels like she doesn’t fit in at school and sometimes even at home – that is until she gets superpowers like the heroes she’s always looked up to.

Iman Vellani makes her acting debut as Ms. Marvel supported by a diverse and deeply talented supporting cast that includes Aramis Knight (Red Dagger), Saagar Shaikh (Aamir), Rish Shah, Zenobia Shroff (Muneeba Khan), Mohan Kapur (Yusuf Khan), Matt Lintz (Bruno) and Yasmeen Fletcher.

During a recent Press Conference, the creators and cast of the show revealed some interesting snippets about the importance of the show.

Kevin Feige on being the MCU’s first Muslim, first South Asian superhero.

“Marvel, it’s such a privilege because not only are the re-interpretations every few years of existing wonderful characters, but every once in a while, and it does seem like every decade or so, there’s a new character that comes around that catches the audience’s imagination.  This character clearly did that.  From the first few issues people started asking us in environments like this when we were promoting other things, when is Kamala Khan coming?  When is Ms. Marvel coming?  So, it always seemed inevitable in a grey way that we would be able to do it.  When Disney+ came around, it really gave us the opportunity to do what we really wanted to do which was to tell her full story in six episodes.  Then have her then transition into a feature.  And as Sana said, I’m so proud of bringing new characters to the screen and not just telling re-interpretations of characters people have seen for decades and decades.  And I think that’s important.  I want people who’ve never even considered watching a Marvel Studios production before to be excited and watch this show and then go watch all the other ones. “

Iman Vellani (Ms.Marvel) on the unorthodox way in which she becomes involved in the show

“In February 2022 I got the WhatsApp forward.  I thought it was a scam.  I don’t know what casting calls look like.  But they are not white pages that say, Ms. Marvel Disney+ and headshot and resume here. It turned out to be real.  Yeah, I did it.  And sent in a very academic resume, the one photo I had of myself.  And they sent back the sides for the self-tape. I knew exactly which comic books they pulled them from.  And I was like, okay this is real.  I can’t do it.  I was making excuses for myself out of fear of failure.  And at 3:00 a.m. the night it was due, I sent in my self-tape.  I thought my 10-year-old self is gonna hate me if I don’t even try.  And two days later I get a call.  They asked do you have a lawyer?  We wanna fly you to LA.  The next thing, I’m in LA with my dad.  It was like the greatest trip of my life.  And I was fangirling over Sarah Finn and Lewis D-Esposito. I wanted to take full advantage of being in that room, ’cause I didn’t know if it was gonna happen again. Then the pandemic hit, and they sent me one email. They said “Look, you’re very much in the running.  We just gotta figure some stuff out on our side.”  And I was like, “I gotta figure out university on my side.”  Then June 2020, sent in last self-tape, and then we did a screen test over Zoom. I got cast on the last day of high school.”

Mohan Kapur (Yusuf Khan) on the understated representation of Muslim/South Asian diversity in the series.

“Sana (Amanat, executive producer), Kevin (Feige, executive producer), correct me if I’m wrong.  I don’t think this series is shouting from the rooftops saying, “Watch me.”  We’re talking about representation.  It’s a wonderful story of a community that’s so ethnically diverse and culturally rich.  And for me coming from that region, I think it’s a fabulous opp, because we certainly say this is the Marvel Universe telling a story about our milieu.  And it’s so beautifully and so subliminally translated over scenes. A small scene like going to the mosque, you put your shoes over there, you come back and the shoes are gone.  That’s a real thing. The process of entering a mosque, the festivals, the wedding ceremonies they’re just so beautiful.  And I’m sure that…  I know this for a fact from whatever little social media that I’m into, that side of the world, they just can’t wait to see this happen.  This is us.  This is us.” 

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (director, Episodes 104,105) on the balancing act of portraying a superhero and the story of one girl and her family.

“It was about letting the world into the secret that the South Asian culture is pretty freaking cool.  Our food, our music, the way the parents’ relationship with the kids are.  I wanted to make it cool so that anybody watching it would be like, that was my argument with my mom when I wanted to go out and she’s like, “There are going to be boys there.  Stay home.”  And sort of make it such that anyone watching beyond the Muslim world, South Asian immigrant families watching could see a reflection of themselves on screen.  The superhero bit was just that I always believe that everyone has a superhero in them; they just have to activate it.  Telling this story is going to change so much for so many people, because I know I have two young girls that when they see Kamala Khan, they too will know that they can also be a superhero.”

Iman Vellani on what makes Ms. Marvel special.

“I think Ms. Marvel always understood fan culture on such a cellular level, and it just really elevated the storytelling in a really unique way. She’s a 16-year-old kid with super powers, fine, we’ve seen that before.  But she’s also a fan of every other hero within the MCU canon. That fascination and excitement is so shared with real-life Marvel fans, so that’s why we relate to her.  You know?  She reacts how we would when she gets powers. I love that part of her, and that’s why I fell in love with her. Culture and religion was never the main thing of her personality, it was just some part of her life.  You know, how it was for me.  It’s like; this is the time I wake up.  This is the time I go to school.  This is the time I pray.  This is the time I eat. It’s just a set, a normal thing.  We didn’t wanna make the show about a Pakistani Muslim, it was about, this Avengers-loving, fanfic writing dork, which just so happens to be a Pakistani Muslim. I think we were balanced it quite well.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.”