by Fatima Kermali
Character Kamala Khan who poses as “Miss Marvel” is the first Muslim superhero to debut on June 8 for streaming on Disney+. The trailer, already released on March 15, is a live action series of a Pakistani-American high schooler played by Iman Vellani. In the film, Khan faces racial issues as well as various other issues common to teenagers but with one exception…she gravels with extraordinary powers. She discovers that she possess capabilities that separates her from the rest and through her powers she learns to navigate her life.
This is a major breakthrough for cultural diversity, as a female South Asian is casted in a major role for a major Studio. It also gives a peek into the life of a Muslim girl and the challenges she faces as a minority. The actress to illustrate this part is a 19-year-old Pakistani-Canadian from Ontario, Iman Vellani. She was on of 12 students chosen for the Toronto Film Festival’s (TIFF) Next Wave Committee-which select films for the TIFF Next Wave Festival, among other things.
This is a start for not only her career but also to open the doors even wider than it already has of diverse representation in Hollywood. Support from the South Asians community has not gone unnoticed. For instance, Colorado state Rep. Iman Jodeh tweeted, “Seeing a #Muslim, female superhero as a starring member of the #MarvelUniverse makes my heart soar. Any one of us could be a superhero.”
Truly, just as glass ceilings can be broken in corporate America by women, so can films represented by ethnic diversity in Hollywood be turned into box office hits. Only time will tell.