Earlier today, Deadline put out an exclusive divulging the name of the person cast by Marvel to play Kamala Khan, AKA the titular Ms. Marvel, in an upcoming Disney Plus show. Justin Kroll reported that the role of Kamala Khan will be played by Iman Vellani, who is a relative newcomer to Hollywood. Actually, she is a complete newcomer but Marvel has found tremendous success with the casting of newcomers and previously not-well-known talent in larger roles.
While we don’t know much about Vellani, we know Marvel took the casting of Khan with the utmost care and were always going to hold out for the right actress to come along, whoever that may have been and whatever level of actor they were. The plan was to get it right and early reactions on social media indicate fans are digging the casting of Vellani.
In the comics, Khan is what’s known as an Inhuman. Inhumans are similar to Marvel’s mutant race, but they achieve their powers through Terrigensis after the Inhuman king, Black Bolt, destroyed Attilan to prevent Thanos from achieving his goals in Infinity and Inhumanity. As a result of the destruction of Attilan, a Terrigensis cloud enveloped the Marvel 661 Earth and turned folks Inhuman whether they wanted the change or not. Khan’s first change turned her into her own personal hero, Carol Danvers. She ultimately decided to take the vacant Ms. Marvel title after Danvers took the role of Captain Marvel.
The character was created by author G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Jamie McKelvie, and the editorial team of Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker. Her debut comic was so good, it won the Hugo Award for the best graphic story in 2015. The character has always enjoyed widespread popularity and she recently became the star of the new Marvel’s Avengers video game for major consoles. This is a character that Marvel is dedicated to seeing her succeed. She is the first major Islamic character for Marvel, though not the first Muslim character or even Muslim female to appear in comics. She just happens to be the first major star.
Because of her popularity and the fact that she represents Islam, Marvel has been dedicated to making sure they got the story right as well as putting in place the right pieces for her live-action debut. The show is being written by Bisha K. Ali and Disney recently announced a directorial team of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Meera Menon. Now the news of Vellani’s casting has broken and been confirmed by fellow Marvel stars and creator G. Willow Wilson on Twitter.
Personally, the news was just what I needed after last night. It was a welcome distraction from the real world. Kamala Khan is such a fun character to read. Not only are her books lighthearted, funny, and just plain fun, they also have depth and value. Marvel isn’t afraid to put Kamala in very serious situations. They’re not afraid to embrace deeper, more mature comic plots and themes with Khan. She’s a terrific character because she’s similar to Spider-Man, but still very much her own thing.
Kamala is also going to mean a lot for Indian-Pakistani individuals, a sentiment echoed by Eternals actor Kumail Nanjiani when he tweeted “I just saw they cast Ms. Marvel and legit got teary-eyed. Congratulations Iman Vellani! Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included. I can’t wait.” Ms. Marvel is going to open many different doors for Marvel and Disney Plus, which is why Marvel has taken her seriously since day one. Much like Shang Chi, there’s more behind the project than meets the eye.
She will open Muslim, Middle-Eastern, teenage girl, and Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi doors. One character accomplishes all of that. That doesn’t even count the other people who have embraced and fallen in love with Ms. Marvel, and there is a substantial number of these individuals as well. Ms. Marvel is a key to many different doors and it will continue to be a pet project for them well beyond her actual television debut. One should expect to see a lot of Iman Vellani going forward… a lot.
I cannot wait for this show. There are a lot of upcoming projects Marvel has in the pipeline, but few get me as excited as Ms. Marvel. I’ve read nearly every story written with her in it and watched nearly every item Marvel’s animated wing has churned out, too. I truly consider Kamala to be a modern-day comic icon. Give it 60 or so years and she’ll be looked at with the same fondness that people have for current legends. If Marvel continues to tap some of the best writers with her stories — thus far they’ve had Wilson and now Saladin Ahmed as writers — the hype is only going to increase. These are genuinely fun stories.
For all of these reasons, expect this project to be a hit. The doors she opens, the fans she’s already built, the writing-directing team they’ve installed, and the source material all should add up to a hit. It’s getting easier and easier to see which products are going to break through and which need a bigger sell, especially when it’s obvious how important the stories and characters are to Disney and Marvel Comics. There will be a dedication to the project and is all going to help guarantee the likelihood the project succeeds. All Marvel has to do is make sure they remain true to what they’ve been doing and pretty soon we will be talking about Emmy Award-winning Ms. Marvel.