West indian culture

Ms. Marvel Creators Talks About Identity, Culture, And That Surprise Ending

Warning: spoilers ahead.

At the end of Ms. Marvel’s fourth episode, Kamala Khan is suddenly transported back in time to a chaotic train station. Swarms of people pass each other in the smoke to board crowded trains bound for Karachi. Friends and family hold back tears as they say their final goodbyes.

The scene depicts the tumult of the partition, the historic event of 1947 which divided British India into two countries: India and Pakistan. It’s something you’d expect to see in a landmark movie or show — less so in a Marvel superhero series on Disney Plus. But throughout the show, Partition is repeatedly referenced by Kamala’s family, establishing it as a formative part of each of their identities.

“When you tell the origin story of Kamala, what does it really mean if you don’t include the story of Partition, the story of families torn apart?” executive producer Sana Amanat told CNET during a press conference on Wednesday. Amanat was involved in the series after co-creating the original comic book character. Bisha K. Ali is the creator of the show.

The scene is an example of identity and culture at the center of Ms. Marvel, which aired its sixth and final episode on Wednesday. The show follows Kamala, a Pakistani-Muslim-American teenager juggling different facets of her identity while discovering that she has cosmic powers dating back to her great-grandmother. In a slight departure from the original comic book series, Kamala’s powers are passed down through her mother’s family line and focused via a magical bracelet.

Amanat says this adaptation is one of her favorite aspects of the series.

“The strength of who you are comes from where you come from and where you’ve been,” she said.

The importance of identity is seen in the countless cultural and religious references throughout the series, such as the sprinkling of Islamic phrases such as “bismillah” (in the name of God) and “assalamu alaikum” (peace be upon you) . Viewers get a glimpse of everything from mosque politics to Eid celebrations.

“Along the way, people are learning so much about our faith and our culture, and that’s always been the hope,” Amanat said. “But we’re not trying to come in and say, ‘Hey guys, let’s read about being a Muslim.’ That’s not the point.”

The goal, according to executive producers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, is to show just how relatable and universal Kamala’s story is — outside of the superpowers, of course. In the end, she’s just a clumsy, confused teenager trying to figure out her place in the world.

“You don’t have to be a Muslim girl from Jersey to appreciate this character,” El Arbi said.

In creating the show’s appearance, El Arbi and Fallah were inspired by the animation style of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. These colorful touches can be seen in text messages flashing in neon signs or in Marvel character animations that appear on the sides of buildings as Kamala and her best friend Bruno discuss her costume for AvengerCon.

“We love the colorful vibrancy of comics, so we really wanted to capture that,” Fallah said. “We also really wanted to get inside Kamala’s head and show her her fantasy world.”

Ms. Marvel

In the end, Kamala forms a closer relationship with her mother.

disney

And then there’s that cliffhanger of an ending in the series finale. Bruno, a science buff, tells Kamala that he analyzed her genetic makeup and discovered that she is not like the rest of his family.

“There’s something different in your genes,” he says. “Like a mutation.”

That word alludes to the X-Men (with a musical sting of their ’90s animated series), as Marvel has long teased the arrival of the mutant super-team. This would make Kamala the first confirmed mutant to appear in the main MCU.

“I’m personally very happy that we used this terminology,” Amanat said. “It’s something I was hoping I could do and we did.”

But no one yet knows exactly what that might mean next for Ms. Marvel.

“There are a lot of different ways to do it,” Amanat continued. “It’s important, and ultimately at the same time, it’s not. … We’re trying to do all this work about how we shouldn’t define ourselves based on those labels, so we didn’t want to put too much weight on that.”

Kamala also erases this revelation in the series. After Bruno shared her discovery, she let out a deep sigh and said, “Anyway, it’ll just be another label.” Viewers hear this dismissal and know it’s not just in reference to the mutation, but every other aspect of Kamala’s life.

Regardless of the viewers background, there is room to connect with Kamala. Beyond her religious and cultural identity and her superpowers, there is a teenager who learns more about herself and the world every day. This, says Amanat, is what makes the show resonate with so many people.

“It’s not just about being a Muslim, it’s about trying to understand yourself and navigating all these different aspects of your identity,” Amanat said. “I don’t think it’s just the minority experience. I think it’s a lot of different experiences, and that’s why eventually people connect to it.”


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