Marvel Get Diverse With Indo-Pak Superhero, Kamala Khan

Marvel Get Diverse With Indo-Pak Superhero, Kamala Khan
Marvel Studio News

[Update: President of Marvel Studios has now confirmed that something is “in the works” for Kamala Khan AKA Ms. Marvel after Captain Marvel joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe next year.]

In a world where Kardashians are idolised and Taylor Swift’s love life is consistently headline news, the need for strong female role models has become stronger with each passing day. For years, comic book reading was thought of as a boys club but in the last few decades there has been a steady transition to a place where comic books are not restricted by gender. Female representation in most leading publications has taken a definite upturn but it was then that people noticed the lack of ethnic characters and more specifically a lack those from the Indian subcontinent.

In 2013 Marvel launched a series that tackled this problem head on. The world saw a radical new hero when 16 year old Kamala Khan took on the mantle of the legendary character Ms. Marvel. A self-proclaimed superhero nerd from New Jersey Kamala is a Pakistani-American and the first Muslim to headline their own comic book.  Her powers include shape-shifting, body-morphing, size-changing and accelerated healing and she idolises Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel who later transitioned to Captain Marvel.

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At lot of comics have seen a gradual shift towards characters targeted at younger female readers such as Batgirl and Supergirl from DC and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Spider-Gwen in the Marvel Universe. Kamala however marks a whole new chapter, as the daughter of Indian immigrants from partition-era Pakistan she is the only Marvel character to be a practising Muslim. While her religion in no way defines her personality, her faith does affect her choices and her actions.

Editor, Sana Amanat has had a huge influence over the character she wants young girls across the country to have a hero that can relate to in an age where racial prejudice is rampant “Kamala Khan’s story is about confronting the labels you’ve been assigned and sculpting them and redefining them until you figure out who you are” says Amanat.

In the comics we see Kamala tackling the daily realities of religious persecution and racial stereotypes, she deals with people questioning her headscarf and shunning her for ‘smelling like curry’. These are issues young Muslim girls deal with growing up in a hostile environment and when they see Kamala rising above and striking out for justice as Ms. Marvel they will hopefully feel empowered to face the challenges in their own lives.

The comic also draws on the struggles of Muslims in India during the partition and the hopes and aspirations of Kamala’s parents as they flee from Mumbai to Pakistan. Their desperate struggle for a better and more peaceful life echo the sentiments of a generation and will open the eyes of an international audience to the trials of so many Muslim immigrants across the world. Especially in America’s fragile political climate characters like Kamala are essential to teach children about the importance of diversity and with luck, foster a more tolerant generation.

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