I know every Brown kid was waiting for the day that a mainstream Marvel Superhero that looked like us, talked like us and was as caught between the traditional and modern like us would make their appearance on screen—and the day finally came this year with the release of Ms. Marvel!
Ms. Marvel is a project that highlights so many incredible wins for members of the South Asian diaspora. The show follows the journey of Kamala Khan, a young Muslim American played by newcomer Iman Vellani, who was a huge Marvel fanatic before gaining superhero powers of her own.
The show does a good job of showcasing the beauty of Pakistani culture as Kamala learns to harness her newfound abilities and explore the world as a teenager. It’s full of wonderful moments that will have you sitting there with a smile on your face.
There are little easter eggs for everyone in the South Asian community— from actors, to music, to the clothes and props.
The cast of Ms. Marvel is a star-studded affair from all corners of the world. Making her acting debut in the series, Iman Vellani is a Pakistan-born, Toronto native who grew up in the suburbs of Markham.She brings so much to the table and plays the character with such ease. I definitely look forward to seeing her in more to come.
In addition, we have some big Bollywood Pakistani film industry names like Fawad Khan and Farhan Akhtar. This marks their Hollywood debut, and an incredible comeback for Fawad Khan who was previously off the grid for a bit as Bollywood boycotted many actors of Pakistani origin. Seeing them both find a new home on this platform was truly incredible to see. Finally, the cast also features amazing people such as Zenobia Shroff, Saagar Shaikh, Mehwish Hayat and more!
The music in Ms. Marvel may just be the highlight for me. As a young South Asian Canadian, fusion of culture has been a huge part of my life. Every song with an east meets west twist was forever on blast. Music has always been my first love and seeing some of my favourite South Asian artists being such a beautiful part of one of my other loves, Marvel movies, was a moment I didn’t know I needed.
This show pushed South Asian sounds to the mainstream and is putting so many more artists on the map. You’ll recognize some 5XFest faves such as Tesher, Khanvict, Raja Kumari and Raaginder, alongside some huge names from across the world including Riz Ahmed, M.I.A and Jai Wolf.
If that weren’t already exciting enough, some of our parent’s faves are also featured throughout the show, including Asha Bhosle, Noor Jehan, Musarrat Nazir and more. And let’s not forget about the inclusion of the Coke Studio Pakistan hit song Pasoori. If you haven’t checked out the soundtrack, I’d highly recommend you get on it. It’ll make your heart swell with pride for being beautifully Brown.
There are also great highlights of the culture through the vibrant colours and clothing featured throughout the show. However, my favourite feature has to be the Haram/Halal hats worn by Bruno and Kamran x.
The hats are a staple from the incredible brand HYFN, run by Pakistani-American creative duo Atif and Humai. Their site states that ‘HYFN is a hybrid between traditional and newer systems of thinking’ and I think their collection is a perfect fit for the show’s theme.
All in all, Ms. Marvel has no shortage of wins for the South Asian community. However, despite all of the amazing buy-in and hype from the community, the show has still received backlash from many Marvel fans.
Perhaps it’s the entirely brown cast or the highlight of a culture that’s been notoriously discriminated against in the Western world. If you have one or two racialized people in your main cast, it’s a huge win for diversity and equity, but a whole cast of colour and suddenly it’s too much.
Despite the critics, Ms. Marvel is an amazing show and a huge step forward in seeing the culture on the big screen and a role model that young brown girls can look up to.
I hope it’s the start of many more mainstream shows featuring South Asian actors and stories.
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