Ms Marvel Proves That Brown Girls From All Over the Globe Can Save the World
It didn’t take long for Disney+’s Ms Marvel to grab my attention.
When it comes to Marvel movies, I’ve watched every single one of them. The action, humour and brilliant CGI always wins me over — however, I know nothing about the comic books themselves.
I can already see the pitchforks headed my way now, but it’s the honest truth. So, when it was announced that the studio will be creating a live-action adaptation of the Ms Marvel comics I didn’t know what to expect, but one thing was for sure, I was excited.
From her older brother praying on the breakfast table, to Kamala saying ‘Bismillah’ before starting her car, Ms Marvel proved that it’s really the little things that make us feel seen and heard.
Growing up as a Pakistani-Australian, there was no one on television or mainstream media that looked like me, and having my culture and religion portrayed on the small screen was a distant dream.
Kamala’s parents are my parents, her household is my household and her frustrations are my frustrations. I’m 27 years old, 11 years older than Kamala, but I found my inner child weeping while watching the story unfold.
“It’s not really the brown girls from Jersey City who save the world,” Kamala says to her best friend Bruno, to which he responds, “Sure they do”.
Imposter syndrome is rampant within our society, and it never really goes away. The self-doubt and feeling like an outcast quickly becomes a part of you, whether you’re 16 or 26.
“I have young nieces and what’s most important to me is for them to feel proud and feel seen in Kamala. But, there’s a character for everybody within the show, you don’t just have to relate to Kamala or Kamran, there’s a whole community that’s surrounding Kamala that they’ve built,” Rish Shah, who plays Kamala’s love interest Kamran, told POPSUGAR Australia.
While watching the series, my heart began to well up hearing Kamala call her mum and dad Ammi and Abbu, just like I do. I watched on with pride when she tried on a shalwar kameez and felt her pain when someone at school called her “Camellia” — a common experience within the South Asian community, where our names are completely butchered by people who don’t even want to try.
It was then that I truly realised the impact of representation. The little girl inside of me was desperate for this, and the little girls of today get to see themselves on screen in the best possible light. Kamala’s ethnicity and religion aren’t a setback. Sure, it poses some challenges, but it’s a part of her that she’s proud of.
“Hopefully this is the beginning of change in the west. Growing up, I would have killed to see Ms Marvel on a global platform. The fact that [Ms Marvel] is on one of the most accessible networks and streaming services in the world, it’s exciting that people will see our culture represented in a really positive light,” said Shah.
Seeing Kamala embrace her culture as a 16-year-old living in America is truly groundbreaking. She doesn’t assimilate into whiteness, and proudly wears her Nani’s (grandmother’s) bangle. She’s strong, powerful and unapologetically brown, something I wish I was at the age of 16.
“Kamala goes on this journey of self-discovery that I know I did as well, of wearing our culture with pride, and being able to be proud of who we are and what we stand for,” said Shah. “I think it’s great that this character and this series has so many different elements to it and is so relatable. And it’s all interwoven in a story of a superhero who just happens to be a Pakistani-Muslim superhero.”
Ms Marvel is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.