We were invited to the press conference for Ms. Marvel, which is the newest MCU series on Disney+. The cast participating included Iman Vellani (Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan), Yasmeen Fletcher (Nakia), Mohan Kapur (Yusuf), Matt Lintz (Bruno), Rish Shah (Kamran), Saagar Shaikh (Aamir), and Zenobia Shroff (Muneeba), along with directors Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Meera Menon, executive producer Sana Amanat and executive producer Kevin Feige. The event was hosted by Malika Bilal.
Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios’ MS. MARVEL. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved
Bilal started out by talking about how there are a lot of firsts with Ms. Marvel – the MCU’s first Muslim, first South Asian superhero. She asked Amanat how the show got greenlit. Amanat said that the comics did really well, and that there were people from different backgrounds who would visit comic shops for the first time. “And a few years later when, Kevin let us know that he wanted to make this into a show, I was thrilled.” Feige added to that, “I want people who’ve never even considered watching a Marvel Studios production before to be excited and watch this show and then go watch all the other ones.”
Vellani received the casting call from a WhatsApp forward from her aunt in February 2020 while she was in high school. Vellani originally thought it was a scam, but sent in an “academic resume” with one photo she had of herself. She then sent in her self-tape, and two days later she received a call. “They’re like, do you have a lawyer? We wanna fly you to L.A. And I was like, I have a math test, but okay.” She went to L.A. with her father, and says that “It was like the greatest trip of my life.” Then the pandemic hit, and she was in the running, but they had to “figure some stuff out on our side.” Vellani was cast on her last day of high school.
Rish Shah as Kamran in Marvel Studios’ MS. MARVEL, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Shah was asked what it was like when he was cast. Amanat said to Shah, “Tell them what you were surrounded by”. Shah then answered, laughing, “Oh my god, all my Funko Pops that I’ve been collecting and arranged in my mom’s kitchen in a specific… all the battle sequences over the years.” Amanat continued, “He hid some of them. He’s like, “Yeah, but there’s, like, more behind my computer. I just felt embarrassed”. The first toy that Shah had ever received from his dad was an Incredible Hulk action figure.
Obaid-Chinoy was asked, “How did you approach balancing the superhero aspect of this with the fact that it’s also just a story about a family and a teenage girl?” Obaid-Chinoy answered, “I think it was about letting the world into the secret that the South Asian culture is pretty freaking cool.”
Obaid-Chinoy followed that up with, “And you know, sort of make it such that anyone watching beyond the Muslim world, South Asian immigrant families watching could see a reflection of themselves on screen. And the superhero bit was just that I always believe that everyone has a superhero in them; they just have to activate it. And telling this story is going to change so much for so many people, because I know I have two young girls that when they see Kamala Khan, they too will know that they can also be a superhero.”