Marvel Studios’ upcoming Disney+ series ‘Ms. Marvel’ has finally found its face – in the form of young, up-and-coming actress Iman Vellani.
The teen actress is a newcomer on the scene, with her role as Kamala Khan set to be her very first major Hollywood production. However, she participated at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival where she was chosen as part of the “Next Wave Committee”, helping to earmark films they felt resonated with younger audiences. The film chosen by Vellani was Minhal Baig’s Hala, a film headlined by a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager grappling with her family, faith and traditions and life in the West (themes that are incredibly similar to those explored in the Ms. Marvel comics).
Vellani highlighted the importance of diversification in film, saying “We want stories from different genders and different countries and different people”. This casting choice is one of momentous and barrier-shattering significance, as it gives the massive opportunity to a young Pakistani-Canadian Muslim girl to play a vital and leading role in one of the world’s biggest and most popular film franchises.
Kamala Khan – Marvel’s first Muslim superhero to lead her own comic book title – made her comic debut in August 2013 and throughout the years has made several appearances in animated Marvel TV shows (such as Avengers Assemble and Marvel Future Avengers) and, most recently, as one of the main playable characters in the Crystal Dynamics PlayStation 4 videogame Marvel’s Avengers. Played by Iman Vellani, Kamala Khan is now also set to become the first Muslim superhero to lead her own live-action television series. According to Marvel, she will also eventually play a role in the big-screen films.
Unfortunately, shortly after the casting was made official, one of Iman Vellani’s competitors for the role leaked her audition scene on social media. The scene in question features a conversation between Kamala and a character referred to as “Jacke”, where issues such as Kamala’s struggles with fitting into to two vastly different cultures along with being a superhero on top of it, with references to other Marvel properties, are discussed. As of right now, it is unknown as to whether or not Marvel will actually use this scene in the final product but what is certain is that the leak constitutes a massive breach of the non-disclosure agreement actors/actresses are required to sign when going for auditions.
Ms. Marvel is currently scheduled for a 2022 release and is helmed by lead writer Bisha K. Ali, with Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (known for their work on Bad Boys for Life), two-time Oscar winner in the documentary short category Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Meera Menon (known for her work on fellow Marvel property Punisher and DC’s Titans) directing several episodes.
Words by Nicholas Bayley