What Ms. Marvel's Representation Means For The MCU – And Hopefully Beyond

Diversity and representation in film has been a hot topic for some time now, especially within some of the industry's most talked-about franchises. It's not always been easy for fans of color to feel seen in the media they watch — but little by little, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is becoming more and more inclusive.

Marvel's strides towards inclusivity are getting even more ambitious with the MCU debut of Ms. Marvel, the franchise's first Muslim (and Pakistani-American) superhero. Also known as Kamala Khan, Ms. Marvel was first introduced on the pages of Marvel comics in 2013. Her story instantly became a favorite for Marvel fans everywhere, as much for the unabashed specificity of her perspective as for its effortless relatability.

Kamala's adventures were the perfect intersection between the South Asian diaspora and Western culture at large. While Kamala struggles to reconcile her many identities at first, she eventually comes to embrace the two worlds that she calls home, which has since become an inspiration for so many girls who look up to the hero. You can feel the love for Kamala's world in every panel of the Ms. Marvel comics, and it's that feeling that the cast and crew of the "Ms. Marvel" series worked hard to bring to their adaptation.

'This is us!'

When it comes to portraying disparate cultures on screen, it's really all about the nuance. Capturing the subtleties of the South Asian community was important for "Ms. Marvel" — and according to Mohan Kapur, who plays Kamala's father, Yusuf Khan, that's exactly what makes the forthcoming series so special. 

At a "Ms. Marvel" press conference attended by /Film, Kapur went into detail about the nuances that make "Ms. Marvel" stand out:

"I don't think this series is shouting from the rooftops saying, 'Watch me!' and talking about representation. It's a wonderful story of a community that's so ethnically diverse and culturally rich, and for me, coming from that region, I think it's a fabulous [opportunity], because we're suddenly saying, 'This is the Marvel universe, telling a story about our milieu.' It's so beautifully and subliminally translated over scenes — a small scene like, you go to the mosque, you put your shoes in over there, you come back and the shoes are gone. That's a real thing! That's a real thing. The process of entering a mosque, the festivals, the wedding ceremonies, they're so beautiful. And I know this for a fact from whatever little social media that I'm into: That side of the world, they just can't wait to see this happen. This is us!"

A new standard

It's no secret that the Marvel Universe has always been big enough to accommodate heroes from all kinds of communities, but it's amazing to see that affirmed in the franchise's most recent projects.

"Ms. Marvel" captures the day-to-day lives of its characters with an understanding and an intimacy that was once so rare for communities of color, and Kapur hopes that the rest of Hollywood will eventually catch on:

"The fact that if Marvel could run this juggernaut, it's a big thing for the rest of the world and the other production houses to say, 'If they could do it, they knew what they were talking about, let us do it.' It's going to be a roller coaster from here on, hopefully for actors, writers, directors, for the entire kaboodle to sit up and say, 'Let's do this. Let's show their story and not shout from the rooftops. This is not a political statement. This is the story of one family, one girl, but it's so beautiful. It's the story of a family in a land that's not their own, but they've called it their home. That's beautiful."

"Ms. Marvel" premieres on June 8, 2022 on Disney+.