The New “Ms. Marvel”
Beginning February 2014, Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teen from Jersey City, New Jersey, will follow in the footsteps of her idol Carol Danvers and will assume the role of being the new Ms. Marvel. Marvel Comics had revealed the identity of the new Ms. Marvel on November 2013. According to Marvel editors Sana Amanat and Steve Wacker, Kamala’s story will mostly be based on the struggles and experiences that Amanat had faced in her childhood as a Muslim American. After Amanat recounted stories from her past to Wacker, he found them hilarious. Taking the idea and concept to Marvel author G. Willow Wilson, Amanat and Wacker inspired Wilson to create Kamala. Through Kamala’s story, readers will authentically explore Muslim American culture and experience Kamala’s struggles with her faith, family, and self.
Kamala grew up longing to “make it” in a city, such as Manhattan, and to be as strong and beautiful as Carol Danvers, the former Ms. Marvel who saved the world with her bare hands. But most of all, Kamala doesn’t want any of the extra baggage that comes with being Pakistani and, therefore, different from everyone else. She has an extremely conservative brother, a mother who believes that Kamala will become pregnant from merely touching a boy, and a father who wants Kamala to study and become a doctor. With all of these demands and labels imposed on her, Kamala fights to form her own identity. This changes once she discovers her superhuman power of polymorph, or the ability to stretch her limbs and change shape; Kamala takes on the name and role of being the next Ms. Marvel. She is one of several characters who are of the “Inhuman” heritage, which is a race of superhumans.
Marvel’s decision to make Kamala the next Ms. Marvel has been met with a wide range of reactions. Some believe that Kamala will become a precious window into the Muslim American life, and some congratulate Marvel on including overlooked groups of the American population that have yet to have a hero. Others, however, felt that this decision will only reinforce the stereotype of controlling and restrictive Muslim parents and feared that her polymorphing ability was too similar to some anti-Muslim stereotypes. Whatever the case, Kamala’s story will still provide readers with some insight.