Ms. Marvel’s Biggest Superpower: The Joy of Representation
The new original series Ms. Marvel premiered on Disney+ on June 8, 2022. The series centers around the character of Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American Muslim teen living in New Jersey. A junior in high school, Kamala Khan is a Marvel mega-fan who daydreams about being part of the Avengers and one day discovers that she has actual superpowers of her own…
How Ms. Marvel challenges stereotypes
… and why it matters
When reflecting on the impact of on-screen racial & cultural diversity on children, it's hard not to think about how Disney characters and superhero stories affect our children. As research suggests that exposure to this type of media reinforces stereotypes and bias, studies also show that these representations also have potentially harmful long-term effects on the self-perception, belonging and confidence of children (and ultimately their opportunities in life), especially for children of color. They can also lead to mental health issues including anxiety and depression. Fictional heroes influence society
It's no secret that the popular American superhero genre has always been political; a powerful medium influencing millions of kids across the world while reinforcing socially constructed gender and racial norms. As such, with many prominent super heroes emerging in the midst of the Cold War, these characterizations predominantly portrayed powerful straight white males saving the world, while the few female characters were hypersexualized, and Black & Brown characters found themselves in secondary roles supporting a white hero.
Enter the Panther. Break the pattern.
Black Panther marked a major milestone as the first Black superhero to feature in a major comic book. Portrayed on screen by Chadwick Boseman in the 2018 movie adaptation, Black Panther provided a bold and disruptive representation of Africa and Black People, in a powerful celebration of culture, against a groundbreaking backdrop of progress and innovation.
With this fun and relatable origin story, Ms. Marvel challenges stereotypes and offers a refreshing intersectional take on superheroes.
The Rise of Kamala Khan
With the apparition of Ms. Marvel in 2013-2014, and now the release of the original TV series in June 2022, fans were introduced to a completely new, inclusive, and uplifting type of superhero, a lovable and vibrant young girl, making history for Muslim representation everywhere. The show invites the audience into Kamala Khan's superhero origin story and tribulations of teenage life, while exploring her cultural heritage in an authentic way. It's interesting to point out that, in the TV show, her powers have been shifted (compared to the comic version) to tie the character even more closely with her identity and background; a bold and refreshing move in a society where intolerance, racial discrimination and two decades of growing Islamophobia are dividing people more than ever.
I'm a Superhero!
With this fun and relatable story, Ms. Marvel challenges stereotypes and offers a refreshing intersectional take on superheroes, bringing joy to Brown people, Muslims and allies everywhere, and providing a role model for a youth craving for more — and better — representation.
She is a girl. She is Brown. She is a Muslim. She kicks ass! And we love it!
More of this please!