In October of this year Marvel Studios took the super hero movie phenomenon and pumped it up to about a million percent of awesome, blowing competitors like DC Comics completely out of the water. Marvel announced a series of 9 upcoming films that will keep comic fans entertained until the year 2019.
Along with ‘Black Panther’ and follow up films for Thor and Captain America sits a true jewel of a movie: Captain Marvel.
For those of you who are not avid comic fans, ‘Captain Marvel’ will follow the story of Carol Danvers, formerly known as Ms. Marvel, who became a captain after her predecessor was no longer able to carry out his duties.
This is an enormous deal for young girls that want to see themselves in super hero movies but it’s also the perfect platform to launch an even bigger deal for young Muslim girls world-wide. Although Carol Danvers is a typical white heroine with blonde locks and a super suit of leather, it is the young girl in line behind her that has my attention.
You see, Carol wasn’t always the Captain. She was once Ms. Marvel and when her promotion finally came around, a gap formed in the Marvel universe. What brave and noble soul could possibly become the next Ms. Marvel? As it turns out, Carol’s replacement is the best thing to happen to comics since Charles Xavier.
Kamala Khan, now known by fans as Ms. Marvel, is the first super hero of her kind. She’s young, she’s from New Jersey, she speaks fluent Urdu, has a best friend that’s a fashion forward hijabi, and is a practicing Muslim. Kamala isn’t anyone’s sidekick or lackey, she’s the main character carrying an entire franchise on her well drawn shoulders. This is the kind of representation that comic fans have been awaiting. Not only is Kamala a positive depiction of American Muslims but she’s funny and charming and tempted to eat bacon like a lot of girls I know. This is an incredible shift in power. No longer do girls have to settle for looking up to a scantily clad Amazonian, or sympathizing with a villain because that’s the only character that looks like them. We’ve finally got someone in our corner.
So what does the ‘Captain Marvel’ movie have to do with Kamala? The Marvel universe is many things but above all else it is a numbers game. Producers want to make profitable movies that will cover the cost of a several billion dollar production. ‘Captain Marvel’ is going to be that movie. I’d bet my shiniest penny on it. Carol has a strong following known as the CarolCorps and they have been waiting years to see their girl on the big screen. These fans are going to come out and they’re going to come out hard. This kind of response to a film is going to create the demand for a follow-up and, as we’ve seen, Marvel loves their prequels and crossovers. The story of Carol Danvers is just the beginning of a resurgence in Ms. Marvel’s popularity. People are going to want to know about this franchise and do you know what they’re going to find? They’re going to find Kamala waiting for them with her lightning bolt t-shirt.
Comic fans have been fighting tooth and nail to have more hero movies with female protagonists. Even a franchise like X-Men dropped the ball when they were unable to properly showcase their plethora of female heroes. Honestly, Wolverine has a hundred movies about his origin story but Storm is yet to be seen as a headliner. Where’s the equality?
The world of comics and fantasy is all about this kind of balance. The genres teach us that, no matter how strange someone looks or how much of an outcast they are, they’ve got a place in this world. They’re important. Whether that importance is for good or evil doesn’t rob them of that special something. Isn’t it time that a company who owns so much of those kinds of stories start holding up that moral? Every hero, every villain, whether man or woman or alien, has something to teach us. We were given a talking raccoon in space before we were give a Wonder Woman movie! What kind of message does that send to our girls?
I’m a collector of the new Ms. Marvel comics, and I’m proud to say I’m in the KamalaKorps. I need to see ‘Captain Marvel’ come to life. I need movie-makers to know that girls are a demographic to be reckoned with. And in ten or fifteen years I want to take my child to the theater so they can see Kamala Khan on-screen. I want the chance to point the on-screen heroine, look at my daughter or son and say:
Look what we Muslim women did. We rose from the ashes of propaganda and generalization. We tore up stereotypes. We became super heroes.