November 8, 2013
Ms. Marvel: A Muslim-American?
Race does not define a hero. A hero can be of any nationality, of any religion, of any ideology, as long as they put the well-being of others before themselves. This being said, many heroes put pride in their nationality, their race, and/or their species (this pertains more towards heroes who are aliens from space or deal with extraterrestrials). Just recently, Marvel announced that there will be a new Ms. Marvel, a 16-year-old Muslim-American girl by the name of Kamala Khan.
While a Muslim character isn’t necessarily a new idea, a Muslim character with her own series, especially with a big name like Ms. Marvel, is quite a bold idea. Now that Carol Danvers is going by Captain Marvel, Kamala takes up her idol’s iconic name as her own when she discovers she has powers of her own. While I doubt Kamala will be quite as amazing as Carol Danvers, I believe that this new Ms. Marvel will be an intriguing character to read about.
Few major characters in the Marvel universe are Muslim. In fact, upon closer examination, we find that most are attractive, “ideal-looks” white people with a few black heroes here and there. The topic of race seems persistently present only in the X-Men, and that is under the metaphorical disguise of the “mutant hate” present throughout the series. Ever since 9/11, Muslim-Americans seem to have been the center for undeserved hatred and persecution in America; while not outright blatant, it is there. To see a major comic hero present a view from the Muslim-American view should be enlightening to readers. Many kids read about the perspective of African-Americans and women in their classrooms, yet the perspective of Muslim-Americans is near non-existent; so why shouldn’t this be exciting for readers?
I hate to focus on the topic of race, since I feel this only worsens racial ideas and brings unnecessary attention to the subject, and Marvel seems to agree. Kamala’s story will not be a story of a Muslim-American in today’s society; instead, it is the story of a teenage girl with a lot of potential and high expectations who gets a chance to choose what she does with her life. The fact she is Muslim-American only adds more to a complex story, as opposed to being the focal point. She will struggle with her identity and her desire to not be “different”, something that many readers will be able to relate to.
The possible reception for this new Ms. Marvel has yet to be determined. While there are predictions that many anti-Muslim and Muslim groups (who might complain that this character is not portrayed in a favorable light) might protest over this series, no one can guess how well-received Ms. Marvel will be. Even the creative teams are concerned that there issue could be hotly protested, but they insist that everything they wrote had a point and served a higher purpose in telling Kamala’s story. Regardless, Ms. Marvel is sure to be a noteworthy series; its uniqueness is sure to make it a classic hit and will be appreciated by the open-minded Marvel fans.
Image Credit: Marvel