If you haven’t heard of Marvel’s latest limited series, Ms. Marvel, it’s not your fault. Swept under the radar, this hidden Disney+ gem has captured the hearts of many BIPOC households. It’s one of the Marvelverse’s many efforts to bring in more diverse characters but I am frustrated it hasn’t gotten the marketing it deserves!
A New Coming-of-Age Superhero Story
The six-episode series follows Kamala Khan (played by the charismatic student-gone superhero, Iman Vellani). A true nerd and Avengers super-fan at heart, Kamala sneaks out of her strict Pakistani home to attend AvengerCon with her best friend. After adding a unique touch to her Captain Marvel cosplay, Kamala discovers her superpower and is thrown into uncovering secrets from a powerful generational bloodline.
The show is a Peter Parker coming-of-age tale that has an immersive cultural background from a Pakistani Muslim household. You’ll get your superpower training sessions with Friday prayer for this one-of-a-kind superhero show. Ms. Marvel balances the details of Kamala’s cultural narrative along with your expected Marvel government bounty hunt. Plus Ms. Marvel doesn’t shy away from calling out Muslim stereotypes when white officers search the mosque.
So Why Isn’t This Show Being Talked About?
In an article from CBR.com, the VP of Samba TV said, “Ms. Marvel is by far the most popular show among more diverse audiences, over-indexing among Black, Hispanic, and Asian households, according to our data.” He goes on to share that Ms. Marvel was also extremely popular with Gen Z. The future of Disney+ is looking bright according to these insights, but why was the overall viewership for this show so low? With a big cameo at the end of the series, you would think the studio would put more dollars behind the show.
Is it that woman-led superhero roles aren’t being prioritized as much as the next Thor? Or, is it the youthful spirit of a young Muslim teen not enough? Even if her story is essentially in the same mould as Peter Parker’s? Don’t get me wrong, I love my Marvel superheroes (especially Peter Parker), I just wish BIPOC characters got an equal marketing budget. Especially when it comes to introducing new characters!
More Diverse Superheroes, Please
This was the first time many Pakistani households got to see themselves as a superhero. This is the second time I’ve seen a Muslim coming-of-age story on screen (Hulu’s Ramy was my first, another hidden gem most haven’t heard about either).
Have you ever wondered how our Latinx parents would handle the misadventures of a Marvel superhero? Like Kamala, I’m sure our moms would send our big brothers as chaperones for our superhero missions (very embarrassing). And we would definitely get grounded, just like Kamala, because immigrant parents don’t play.
The avoidance from the mom’s generational trauma will also hit home, especially when Kamala secretly calls her grandma to try and get the scoop. My favorite scene would have to be the window stoop moment between Kamala and her dad when he explains why they named her Kamala–it inspires her to realize her superhero name has to be Ms. Marvel. The last episode will definitely pull at your father-daughter heartstrings.
Elevating Storylines with Cultural Representation
Speaking of generational trauma, my favorite storyline was Kamala’s maternal bloodline. It was my first time learning about how generational trauma carried over from the Partition of India in a show about superheroes. We even get a historical flashback of the events leading up to the division between India and Pakistan in episode four. It made me look for books about the historic event – I wanted to learn more.
If you’re thinking about watching this show, do yourself a favor and stop thinking about it. I wish we could get another season, but it’s only a limited series. While we wait for America Chavez to get the backstory series she deserves, check out this amazing coming-of-age series with a heartfelt cast and much-needed Pakistani Muslim representation on screen.