Ms Marvel: A M(is)sed Opportunity?
At D23 on Friday, Disney announced they were making a Ms Marvel TV series for their streaming channel Disney+. Not only will this bring a fantastic new character to the MCU, Ms Marvel will be the first Muslim superhero Marvel has put on the small screen. However, the news could have been better.
Who is Ms Marvel?
The present Ms Marvel (there have been at least four so far) is Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani-American from New Jersey who is a Captain Marvel superfan and develops the ability to change shapes. From there her story follows the usual mix of trying to be a superhero, living up to her idol and being a normal teenage – with the added complication of being both a Muslim and from an immigrant family. In many ways she is the ideal replacement for Spiderman if he should leave the MCU!
As you can imagine with the above description her story is very street level – meaning most of her conflicts are about protecting her city rather than dealing with world ending threats and super-villains. The best parts of her tale are the every day details which often get lost when a long form property is turned into a film. Think of how the magic lessons and worrying about home work part of Harry Potter got lost from the film adaptions.
A Missed Opportunity
It feels like a missed opportunity for the MCU‘s first Muslim superhero not only making her debut on the big screen but being the lead character. Representation is important and gives children from minority backgrounds the chances to see themselves on screen doing stuff white, straight men (or what we consider to be the normal!) get to do. Characters like Kamala Khan will inspire new generations to do whatever they want and make the world a better place in the process. Don’t believe me, check out the video below about the impact Nichelle Nichols had for being a supporting character on the original series of Star Trek
I’d love Kamala Khan to have the same impact for this generation but putting her debut behind a paywalled streaming service will lessen some of the impact. If she was headlining a Marvel movie you would not be able to move for billboard posters, tv spots and online ads promoting her film. Think how many ads did you see for Spiderman: Far From Home and then compare that to the latest series to arrive on Netflix.
To finish on a positive, the links between Disney+ and the MCU are much stronger than the MCU‘s previous TV projects so hopefully Khan will make her big screen debut at some point in the future. Hopefully it is not too long!