Local NewsIman Vellani powers up to break new ground as...

Iman Vellani powers up to break new ground as ‘Ms. Marvel’

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Marvel’s “Ms. Marvel” miniseries on Disney+ Wednesday marks another frontier conquered for the influential publisher and filmmaking powerhouse.

A comedically spun saga finds Kamala Khan, a Jersey City Muslim-American teen and major-major Marvel fan, whose life changes when she acquires superhero powers.

She represents the first Muslim Marvel heroine as well as the first South Asian (as in India) heroine.

  • Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' 'MS....

    Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' 'MS. MARVEL.' (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022.)

  • (L-R) Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan and Matt Lintz...

    (L-R) Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan and Matt Lintz as Bruno in Marvel Studios' 'MS. MARVEL,' exclusively on Disney+. (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022.)

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In the comic book universe Kamala is actually the fourth Marvel Ms. Marvel. She premiered in 2013 and was given her own series in early 2014.

“When this comic debuted,” said Sana Amanat, the series’ producer and writer, “we knew it was a success when people who had never been showed up in comic shops for the first time to read it. That’s America’s success of this series.

“We joked no one’s going to care — and Kevin Feige cared! And so did the rest of the world. When a few years later Kevin wanted to make this into a show I was thrilled.”

“Why not I say,” said Boston native and Marvel honcho Feige, 50, during last Friday’s global virtual press conference. “Marvel is such a privilege. Not only are there reinterpretations of characters every few years but also new characters come around and capture people’s imaginations.

“From the first few issues people asked us, ‘When is Ms. Marvel coming?’ It always seemed inevitable with Disney+ to tell her full story in six episodes and then transition into a (2023) feature, ‘The Marvels.’

“I’m so proud of bringing new characters to the screen,” he added.  “I want people who never considered watching a Marvel show before to come.”

For Iman Vellani, now 19, being Kamala Khan really is dream come true time.

“In February 2020 I got a casting call but thought it was a scam,” she said. “It turned out to be real.”

She filled out academic paperwork and did scenes on tape.

“I knew exactly what comic book they were from. I sent my tape and later they flew me to L.A. with my dad. The greatest trip of my life.”

In June of that year, following a screen test over Zoom she was Ms. Marvel, whom she understands completely.

“She’s a 16-year-old kid with superpowers but also a fascination with other Marvel characters. That’s why we relate to her: She reacts the way we do.

“It was just part of her life, a set of normal things about an Avengers-loving dork who just happens to be a Pakistani Muslim.”

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