Comic books are fantastic. They have the ability to transcend language and audio by capturing readers’ imaginations to go on epic, unforgettable adventures with the turn of a page.
With the recent push for more complex and diverse representation on film, media conglomerates like Marvel Studios are under deep pressure to diversify their lineup of predominantly white male superheroes.
The possibilities for storytelling in comic books are endless, and with how popular the Captain America’s and Iron Man’s of the comic book world are, I decided to do some research on multiracial and multicultural superheroes hidden within Marvel and D.C.’s bank of characters.
Kamala Khan is a CCK, multiracial, multicultural fictional shape shifting superhero within the Marvel Universe who made her debut in 2013.
Khan is a 16-year-old Muslim Pakistani American from Jersey City, New Jersey who discovers she has Inhuman genes, which gives her the ability to shapeshift and have an enhanced healing factor similar to Wolverine.
Khan idolizes Carol Danvers, otherwise known as Captain Marvel, and assumes the mantle of Ms. Marvel to reflect her legacy and subsequently, start her own.
Ms. Marvel’s costume design is takes inspiration not only from Captain Marvel, but is influenced by the shalwar kameez, a traditional dress worn by women in South Asia.
This Desi girl from Jersey City gives authenticity to the character of Kamala Khan. Many young female comic book readers are growing up in an age where diversity is becoming the new norm in the film industry.
After 9/11, the thought of having positive portrayals of Muslim characters in media was practically non-negotiable. Many Muslim/Middle Eastern portrayals were relegated to the sympathetic Muslim whose side eyed by the white American characters and must prove themselves to earn back trust.
This harmful narrative undoubtedly had real world consequences for people of Middle Eastern descent. However, the narratives surrounding Muslim Americans and people of Middle Easterners is improving.
Kamala Khan will be a main character in the new video game from Crystal Dynamics titled Marvel’s Avengers.
We can’t deny that the “big boys” of American comic book publishers are Marvel Comics and D.C. Comics, Inc. Marvel Studios has made great strides toward including superheroes within the mainstream consciousness, which has been a success.
However, a majority of those representations are in favor toward more Anglo American and masculine portrayals.
For context, the first white female superhero Marvel film was Captain Marvel in 2019. If that isn’t a glaring problem with the industry’s lack of positive representation, I don’t know what is.