The executive producer of the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel highlights the significance of representation, making it a celebration for brown families, and shares the amount of love she poured into Kamala Khan’s amazing journey.
In the first episode of Ms. Marvel on Disney+, the title character utters a resigned line and almost throwaway but is most definitely not.
Let’s face it; it’s not the brown females from Jersey City that save the world.
Wrong. My daughter was only four years old when Kamala Khan debuted in the Ms. Marvel comic book series; as a result, she grew up understanding that she can be a superhero and save the world. Moreover, we have been watching Ms. Marvel on Disney+ together.
Parentsnkids spoke with Marvel Comics editor and executive Sana Amanat, who co-created the character and executive-produces the program, on the work and pleasure that went into bringing Kamala Khan’s universe to life.
You created the first Ms. Marvel comics in 2014. How does it feel to see this materialized in this fashion?
That feels really unreal since I cannot believe it actually occurred. I am astounded that it worked. I cannot believe they let us accomplish this, and I cannot believe how much love this play has received. Funny enough, Iman [Vellani, the show’s star] expresses the same sentiment. She cannot accept it. It is crazy.
It’s a true feat. As an American of South Asian descent descended from the second generation, I feel like Ms. Marvel and her parents. It captures a great deal.
That was always the objective of the comics, and the show keeps true to that. It’s rare for a show to retain what the comics achieved so well. We took the weight and responsibility of the show we were creating seriously, which is why this is one of the most agonizing experiences I have ever had. Because I was unable to accept mediocrity, I was unwilling to accept library music. I remarked, “We’re going to do the finest possible presentation with our time and resources.” And the fact that it was shot during a pandemic with so many obstacles, including Zoom screen testing for casting. It is something totally distinct. Sometimes, you must follow your instincts. Yet, at the end of the day, the event is intended for our community. I believe that all communities will be able to relate to the family since it is a beautiful, simple, and cheerful story of a family attempting to sort out its relationships.
It is a Marvel show, but unlike any Marvel show or film we have ever seen.
I find this to be naturally amazing. This is roughly what we desired. Certainly, there is heightened science fiction and abilities, but a wonderfully grounded plot balances it. It is the medium through which you demonstrate your character’s strengths and vulnerabilities. That was the goal: to convey a fantastic tale about Kamala, her planet, and her family. The rest of the elements serve as a story device to better explain their relationships and clarify their significance. And Kamala’s story has always been deeply rooted in her family and origins.
And for many of us, this is the first time we’ve seen a family like that — our own — on TV.
Yes! Everyone is always everywhere if you were raised in a large brown household. All of your grandparents, uncles, and aunts are entering and exiting the home. I grew raised in this manner. I had no idea who was entering my home, and like, “How are we related? I’m not sure.” Well, you know what? It was very enjoyable. The size of Kamala’s community is truly representative.
With the music, the Bollywood references, and the murals of Jersey City coming to life, the story had so many dimensions.
Yeah. Ms. Marvel’s comics were initially quite eccentric and distinct from other Marvel comics. It was difficult to enter a show in which I have skin in the game. It was quite important to me, and we had to work it out. What is our equivalent of fan fiction? In adapting the comics for the film, we had to experiment with how the visuals would come to life, so we created her a YouTube artist who creates her own version of the comics and cosplays as Captain Marvel. So many ingredients converged to create a melting pot. We attempted a variety of methods before settling on this stop-motion type technique. Nonetheless, we wanted to make it an expression of her personality. As a result of Kamala’s optimistic and buoyant outlook on the world, both her artwork and murals come to life. That made complete sense to us.
Her worldview is so narrow. I was just diagnosed with ADHD, as was my child. Yet, many cultures, including South Asia, do not treat mental health. Was this deliberate? Does Kamala Khan have ADHD?
We did debate it somewhat. Actually, that was at the forefront of my mind. That appears to be someone who is experiencing ADHD. Are we going to tell that story? Yet we could not pinpoint it. If so, we must be responsible and shrewd in how we convey it. This was not necessarily the objective, but this is a component of how you perceive it.
Let’s discuss the parents. As already stated, I could absolutely identify with Kamala, the child. I also recognized myself in her parents.
They remind me a great deal of what a modern family looks like. We had to be extremely careful not to be too stereotypical while also highlighting the fact that there are issues amongst numerous generations of different cultures. Hence, there is a very natural disconnect, and I see nothing wrong with that. We sought to strike a balance between the protectiveness of Kamala’s parents and the strictness of the Islam experience. We were always cognizant of the idea that the mother is extremely scared of what this world will do to her kid, particularly because she came to a nation that is not hers, that she still thinks is not really hers, and to which she had to truly acclimatize. Thus, she does not want her daughter to become lost, and she and her husband work hard to establish and make a very good life for their daughter. In the end, we desired to create a story about women spanning multiple generations.
Then you delved into the grandmother’s background as well as the history of partition in India and Pakistan and its far-reaching effects. I don’t recall ever seeing this on screen.
Yes. And the women are the ones left out of these epic tales, correct? I believe it might be unique and beautiful, especially in the context of a young woman’s coming-of-age story. And as the season progresses, it continues to progress and expand. I’m eager to find out what folks will think.
This is also one of the first on-screen depictions, so to speak, of the diversity within the diversity, particularly with regard to Muslim communities and religion.
Oh, my Goodness! That was extremely significant to me. The most important thing was ensuring that everyone recognized that you cannot paint us with a single brush, and that we are a variety of experiences and individuals, especially inside the community, which is arguably one of the most diverse religions. It is one of the world’s greatest religions and will likely be the largest religion over the next five to ten years, which I find quite absurd. I do feel that our Islamic faith is diverse, and I want to celebrate that pluralism because, ultimately, we have such a large community. We’re not a single entity. We need to stand united. Yet we should stand united in our individuality. This is essentially the purpose of the show, as this is ultimately what we are saying about Kamala. How do you accept everything that makes you who you are?
What kind of feedback has the show received?
The number of unfavorable reviews has been rather low. And I’m so used to reading bad assessments of this persona. Similar to “How do you discuss religion?” Who cares about a girl of color? So, it is not for you. Or, “Well, you’re basing the entire program on a single culture.” And I’m like, “Yes, you’re right. I am. Because it is my life and how I was raised. I visited a mosque. I belong to a large, brown family. Weddings are like our Super Bowls.” I adore that material. This concert celebrates our community, culture, and families, and I believe that is just what is occurring. It gives me chills when I receive messages from parents informing me that their children are viewing it and seeing themselves for the first time.