‘Mrs. Marvel’ Team Talk Cast Tattoos, Depiction of Muslim Superheroes – The Hollywood Reporter
Iman Vellani is Kamala Khan. Or at least that’s what everyone on the Ms. Marvel the team has to say about it.
Like her character, the 19-year-old Pakistani-born Canadian is a comic book superfan. While Kamala dreams of one day becoming an Avenger in real life, Vellani herself has followed a similar path, being a lifelong comic book lover turned star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Kamala is 16, she’s obsessed with the Avengers and it’s her passion,” Vellani said. The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s Hollywood premiere on Thursday. “I think it’s so important for kids to follow their passion and explore it and just learn about themselves in the process. That’s what happened to me, and look where it got me. If I had never been obsessed with Marvel or the comics, I literally wouldn’t be there.
She continued: “Marvel was the only thing I ever talked about growing up and [my friends] should just sort of listen to me, just wave me away. And now they really have to listen to me and they can’t avoid it.
The series follows Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American girl growing up in Jersey City. She is an artist, a gamer, a fan-fiction and above all an Avengers fangirl. Specifically, Kamala loves Carol Danvers, better known by her superhero alias of Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson in the MCU). She lives a normal teenage life, that is, until she gains powers that allow her to harness cosmic energy.
“I think now is the time to have movies and TV shows that represent the fandom,” said executive producer and director Adil El Arbi. “The fandom is very diverse and they make Marvel great. And to have Iman Vellani – she’s a huge Marvel fan and Iron Man is his favorite movie — and having a character that looks like him is very important. El Arbi produces and directs alongside his creative partner Bilall Fallah. The filmmaking duo are also set to direct DC’s next superhero movie bat girl.
“[Iman] will make you laugh. She will take you on this adventure. And she will make you believe that all you have to do is believe in yourself that you can be a superhero, and anyone can do it,” said director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who helmed three episodes of the series, about Vellani’s performance in the series.
Ms. Marvel is the very first Pakistani superhero in the MCU, and she was also the first Muslim hero to headline her own Marvel comic. While Marvel is well on its way through Phase 4 of its new content slate, the creators behind Ms. Marvel saying that now is the perfect time to introduce Kamala Khan into the storyline.
“We’re finally starting to believe that superheroes come in all shapes, colors and sizes,” Obaid-Chinoy said. “And that it’s important to tell a story that resonates with a global audience. To give birth to a superhero in which so many young people growing up around the world can see a reflection of themselves.
“The intention was to make it real and honest,” added series executive producer Saman Amanat, a Marvel veteran who co-created the movie. Ms. Marvel character and comic. “I think that’s why it works. It’s because we didn’t really force it, we didn’t educate people. We weren’t talking about like, “That’s what it’s like to be a Muslim. It’s like, ‘It is what it is. That’s it. There’s nothing else, you know?
Throughout the journey to bring the show to life, the cast and crew have maintained such a close bond that some of them even got matching tattoos to commemorate the experience. Many cast and crew wore their Ms. Marvel lightning bolt tattoos on the red carpet.
“The level of connection we felt with each other so instantly — it’s irreplaceable,” said actress Laurel Marsden, who plays Zoe Zimmer. “We’re best friends, we talk all the time and we hang out all the time. The tattoo was not just to commemorate our friendship and bond, but also such a milestone in our lives and careers that we were all so excited to remember forever.
“I said I would only tattoo my child’s name,” added Laith Nakli, who plays Kamala’s religious mentor, Sheikh Abdullah. “[And now], a bunch of 17, 18 year olds got me tattooed. We all have matching tattoos… That’s how much I love these kids. And it’s a testament to how much I’ve bonded with them in such a short time. It was fantastic.”
He continued, “It’s a great moment for everyone. My nieces, my nephews, my cousins, my family abroad in Syria, all these children will be able to see this and they will see people like them. It’s a big thing.
“I came to this country 30 years ago, and I was told to change my name and my white pass. Get an American accent,” said actress Zenobia Shroff, who plays Muneeba Khan, the Kamala’s mother.” It was so far from everything like now. So for that to happen is groundbreaking. It’s phenomenal. America is not a white country. And the population must reflect the art and vice versa.
Other Marvel stars like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘Xochitl Gomez, Eternals‘Lia McHugh and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Actor Danny Ramirez was also on hand to support his MCU family.
Ms. Marvel premieres on Disney+ on June 8.