The new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, is a Muslim teenage girl from New Jersey. We’ve talked before about how comic book movies don’t represent the diversity of comic books when Michael B. Jordan, a black actor, was cast as a traditionally white character, The Human Torch, in the Fantastic Four film and there was a massive racist backlash. This is an example of how Marvel comics has continued to be inclusive despite the efforts of television and film to remain limited in their representations of class, race and sexual orientation.
Creator Sana Amanat (who is also Muslim, so yay for female, Muslim editors giving authentic voices to female, Muslim characters) told The New York Times the genesis of Kamala Khan was quite mundane, “I was telling him some crazy anecdote about my childhood, growing up as a Muslim-American. He found it hilarious.”
DC Comics is also doing its best to address the changing demographics in America with a male Muslim American Green Lantern named Simon Baz. I have to give props where props are due, comic books have been killing it diversity wise. First the half-Black, half-Hispanic Spider-man, Miles Morales, then X-Men #1, the all-female comic series, and now more Muslim Americans.
The actual comic book is actually written by G. Willow Wilson, an Islam convert and a lady. Wilson says of Kamala’s religion, “This is not evangelism. It was really important for me to portray Kamala as someone who is struggling with her faith.”
Amanat says Kamala’s troubles are both specific to Muslim girls but also totally relatable to any girl, “Her brother is extremely conservative. Her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant. Her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor.” All that,plus fighting the bad guys. Amanat and Wilson both expect the standard backlash from those who are anti-Muslim and from Muslims who don’t necessarily feel like they are being represented. That’s totally fair, the world can be a harsh place for diversity but hopefully his won’t deter the comic (if it’s good) from being a hit.