Ms. Marvel premieres this week as the next Marvel Cinematic Universe television series, and it is one that is a change of pace in that it is a coming-of-age series that mixes both comedy and drama elements.
Ahead of the series premiere, Shadow and Act chatted with head writer Bisha K. Ali and executive producer Sana Amanat (who also co-created the character and original comic), who spoke about bringing the Kamala Khan series to life, how it connects directly to MCU events in its first few minutes and much more.
We are on the heels of a few series and movies within the MCU that have a lot of standalone storytelling without the interconnectedness of the characters and universes. Ms. Marvel immediately kicks off with references, something that Ali says that they had to do.
“We all revered these comic books so much,” she told us. “Every creative that works on the show loves those comic books, and that’s straight up from that from day [zero]. She [Kamala] loves Captain Marvel, and we wanted to make sure that her fandom, which is artistry in my opinion –creating fan art, creating fanfiction making cosplay– those are arts that they’re participating in. The passion and love for that is important and it’s so fundamental to Kamala’s character….that had to be like how we open up. The day we kind of landed on AvengerCon in the writer’s room, we were like, ‘Wait, are we geniuses?’ [laughs] Like we just love the idea of AvengerCon so much. And all of us in the writer’s room are fans. We’re fans of the MCU, so the fact that we get to pitch our dream AvengerCon. I’m still working on the team to be like, ‘Guys, let’s make this real.’ [laughs]. The fact that we got to kind of build that together really speaks to Kamala’s character because it’s the thing that she wants to go to more than anything else. It’s a thing that when I was a teenager, I was desperate [for]. I was living in Saudi Arabia at the time and was thinking, ‘How can I get from Saudi Arabia to San Diego Comic-Con?’ And I’d never been to America my whole life.”
One thing fans have talked about before the premiere is how Kamala’s origins have changed for the show. In the comics, she is seen as an Inhuman and has elastic-y, Reed Richards-like powers. But for the series, it seems her abilities are more cosmic although they somehow resemble how they look in the comics. Her powers also seem to be tied to her own history.
Amanat explained, “I think in the comics, obviously, the powers look a little bit different…they’re more stretchy. In the series, it was really about linking it more to bigger stories in the MCU and linking it to the themes of the show, which is about identity and this idea that came totally out of Bisha and her writer’s room was about linking the powers to her cultural identity and her past and making that a part of a bigger story and Kamala’s personal journey. While the visual elements are there and the connective tissue is there, it just kind of takes us on a bigger and different journey that I think works quite well.”
Ali also hopes this is another example of Muslim representation on-screen, specifically when it comes to individual storytelling.
“There is more representation for Muslims on-screen than there has been in the past,” she said. ‘I think one of my big goals, and hopefully Ms. Marvel pushes towards is that is [how] there should be more individual stories…because there are literally billions of Muslims. So, no one story is gonna represent everything, right? Just being one more voice and all of the other voices of what this could be was kind of our focus. And the big thing about specifically about the Muslim element in this is that it’s just part of her life. It’s not anything that we’re pointing at and being like, ‘Oh, look at this,’ it’s just an integral part of her life or her daily routine. It’s just part of who she, part of her family, part of her day-to-day, and presenting it in that way felt really, really important and really special.”
Watch the full interviews below: