Multiple reports have confirmed the casting of Iman Vellani as the title character in Ms. Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)’s upcoming web television series. The show is tentatively slated for a 2021-22 release on the streaming service Disney+, and will be the first live adaptation based on Marvel’s Ms. Marvel comic series. Ms. Marvel, or Kamala Khan, is Marvel Comics’ first Muslim superhero, who first debuted in 2013 within a Captain Marvel comic, and later received her own series in 2014. The character of Kamala Khan is a Pakistani-American teenager, based in New Jersey, with shapeshifting abilities.

The casting report was confirmed on 30th September by Willow G. Wilson, writer of the Ms. Marvel comics, in a tweet saying: “I guess the news is out. Congrats, Iman!” She followed it by stating, “She is the real deal.”

Iman Vellani is a teenager based in Ontario, Canada, with Pakistani immigrant parents. As a newcomer, Ms. Marvel is her first confirmed acting role. The news of her casting comes in a series of recent casting announcements for upcoming Marvel characters. These include the casting of Tatiana Maslany as She-Hulk, and Simu Liu in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, which would be Marvel’s first movie starring an Asian lead actor. Incidentally, all three actors are Canadian.

While not much information is yet available about the live-action Ms. Marvel, the casting announcement of its lead has garnered excitement and celebration among fans and celebrities alike.

Noted American actors of South Asian descent, such as Mindy Kaling and Kumail Nanjiani, took to twitter to express their joy at the news.

Kumail Nanjiani, who is Pakistani-American like Ms. Marvel, wrote, “Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included. I can’t wait.”

Mindy Kaling, meanwhile, punctuated her tweet with the hashtag “#RepresentationMatters,” echoing a common sentiment among diverse audiences for increased minority representation in media.

The launch of the Ms. Marvel comics in 2014 garnered great appreciation from comic book enthusiasts and set new standards of diverse representation within popular media. As the first Muslim superhero within Marvel Comics, Ms. Marvel spelled a revolutionary change within the American superhero universe by giving space to non-dominant characters narratives. The story of Kamala Khan, as she handles her superpowers and daily activities as an American teenager, while dealing issues related to her identity and heritage, has been seen a positive representation of Muslim-American and immigrant lives. More importantly, it has proven to countless young underrepresented readers that they can be more than simply side-characters.

The on-screen adaptation of Kamala Khan’s story promises to amplify the effects of the original comics by reaching to an even larger audience. With Ms. Marvel’s onscreen debut, the spunky young superhero is likely to feature in multiple MCU projects in the future, and give more fans the satisfactions of seeing themselves reflected on screen. Notably, the show’s team of directors also includes Pakistani Oscar-winning documentary director, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.

Iman Vellani is going to be the face of more than simply a superhero. The world awaits her debut in excitement.

The author is a former member of staff. She writes features on current affairs and is interested in issues of social justice, online behaviors, and popular culture. She tweets at @zainabmsheikh and can be reached at zainabmubashir@thecorrespondent.pk.

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