5 Reasons Why Ms. Marvel Needs Her Own Movie

The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never looked brighter. With the incredibly cool-looking Black Panther and the much hyped Avengers: Infinity War set to hit the screen before the summer, the short term is sure to be filled with excitement. And the long term looks just as good, thanks to Marvel’s acquisition of Fox, the studio which owns both X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Soon, all of Marvel’s characters will finally be under the same cinematic roof. It’s almost impossible not to dream about the possibilities.

But before we start thinking about a new Fantastic Four team, or how Marvel is going to chose how to bring in the X-Men (my money’s on a full-on reboot. Sorry, Hugh Jackman!), I’d urge people to hold their horses a bit. Buying a movie studio takes time, even for an entertainment powerhouse like Disney. In order to jump through all of the necessary hoops, it’s projected that this multi-billion dollar purchase could take up to 18 months. Not to mention that Marvel has never been big on rushing things. Big characters and important concepts tend to be brought in slowly, over time, and the franchise is a lot stronger for it. But we still need to bring in some fresh blood for phase four, and Marvel already happens to have the perfect candidate.

Ms. Marvel.

The moniker Ms. Marvel has been claimed by Carol Danvers (who now goes by Captain Marvel) and other individuals, but since 2014, the title has been bestowed upon Kamala Khan, a Muslim, Pakistani-American teenager who protects Jersey City by night, while struggling to juggle school, family, and friendships by day. After completing terragenesis (although her origin story could be rewritten if they don’t want to go the Inhumans route), Kamala gained the ability to reshape herself. So she can grow big or small like Ant-man, but also change specific pieces of her body. For example, she can enlarge her hands to reach out and grab retreating enemies.  Throughout her brief history in Marvel comics (penned by the talented G. Willow Wilson), Kamala has shown us multiple reasons why she would fit in wonderfully in this exciting new period of the MCU.

Which I will gladly list below.

#1: Liked Spider-Man: Homecoming? Then you’re going to love Ms. Marvel

Spider-Man: Homecoming was like a breath of fresh air into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While previous movies have focused on the heroics of adults, Peter Parker was the MCU’s premiere teenage superhero. It was hard not to fall for his youthful enthusiasm, nerdy antics, and his genuine desire to be a hero. Spider-Man: Homecoming also boasted a diverse cast of side characters, and told a story that was comparatively small when compared to the larger MCU. Spider-Man: Homecoming quickly found its way into my top five Marvel films, and I can’t wait to see what the franchise will do next with Peter Parker. But while you can keep a superhero in his teens for eons in comic books, real-life actors tend to grow up. So when Peter Parker ages out, we’re going to need someone ready to fill that youthful void, yet bring her own unique spice. This is something that Ms. Marvel could do easily.

Just take a look at the source material, which, like many classic Spider-Man storylines, presents her as a friendly neighborhood superhero. Remember how much fun it was to see Peter Parker nerd out over meeting his favorite superheroes? Kamala Khan writes fanfic about them (even after becoming Ms. Marvel). Like Peter, she’s young, cares about her community, and genuinely wants to do good. And if you want a diverse cast, then there’s no better way to handle that then putting by person of color front and center.

#2: A Rising Star — with a Passionate Fanbase

Although she’s been around for less than five years, Ms. Marvel has already achieved a lot of positive attention. The comic has won multiple awards (including a Hugo). The character has been fast-tracked to Avengers level status and has appeared in video games and animated projects. This isn’t something that Marvel would have done had Ms. Marvel not already gained a passionate fanbase, fans that will surely show up to the theater.

Of course, some people may see the fact that Ms. Marvel hasn’t been around for all that long as a sign that she’s not really a headliner. After all, she hasn’t really had a chance to build up an impressive rouges gallery, or iconic storylines to interpret. And while I can understand where people are coming from, I don’t necessarily think that’s going to be a problem. Just take a look as Jessica Jones, who stars in a popular Marvel Netflix series, despite the fact that her body of work was comparatively small beforehand (although I totally recommend checking out Bendis’s original run on Alias). And anyone who’s read the Ms. Marvel comic knows that her enemies aren’t necessarily memorable for their power set or costumes, but for what the issues they represent, including gentrification and radicalization. This will give Marvel the flexibility to tell a compelling, current story instead of just relying on a big, showy two-dimensional villain. Which, as we all know, is where their villains can sometimes fall flat.

#3: The perfect opportunity to discover new talent

Nowadays it seems like everyone wants to be in a Marvel movie, including well-established talent like Samuel L. Jackson and Michelle Pfeiffer. But a lot of stars were pretty small time before their Marvel roles, including Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Holland (Spider-Man), and former indie darling Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch). One of the benefit of nabbing a relative unknown is they are able to disappear into a character more easily. You don’t look at Daisy Ridley in Star Wars and think “oh, there’s so and so from such as such,” you look at her and see Rey. Given Kamala’s young age, finding a new, and promising actress would work just as well, and it has the potential to bring exciting new talent to the masses.

#4: Because comic book movies should be fun, but timely too

From Ms. Marvel: No Normal. Artwork by Adrian Alphona

The Ms. Marvel comic book is bright, and colorful, with playful dialogue and occasional wacky situations. The perfect fit for a universe that is relying more and more on humor and fun for their non-Avengers-focused movies. Just look at Guardians of the Galaxy, and the aforementioned Spider-man: Homecoming. Given that this humor is from the source material, it’s less likely to come off as forced, like in Doctor Strange.

But while there’s plenty of fun to be had in the Ms. Marvel comic book, it’s not afraid to tackle serious issues that are important to our lives today, similar to how Captain America: Winter Solider tackled the topic of surveillance. Just look at the recent storyline “Mecca,” which discusses radicalization and racism through the lens of anti-superhero activities. Ms. Marvel is a very well-balanced comic with plenty of laughs, but it’s also thoughtful content that is very much based on what is important today. A perfect fit for the current state of the MCU.

#5: And most importantly, because representation matters

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has many wonderful side characters who are women or people of color, it has also been rightly criticized as a franchise that only cares about white actors named Chris. Falling into this pattern for such an extended period of time, even with more diverse/female characters playing support roles, unintentionally sends out a dangerous message to all of who are not white, male, cisgenedered, or straight: your stories do not matter.

But that’s about to change.

Next month, almost ten years after Iron Man first hit theaters, Black Panther will be released, the first Marvel movie to focus on a black superhero. And a little over a year after that (almost eleven years after Iron Man), Captain Marvel will be released, the first MCU movie to be solely headlined by a female superhero.

People who happened to be in under-represented demographics  know how empowering it can be to see people who look like you in these superheroic roles. And, on a more practical level, investing in these type of film can prove to be quite profitable. Just look at last year’s Wonder Woman, a DC film that managed to bring in a over 800 million dollars worldwide. And if the presales for Black Panther are any indication, Marvel is looking at another sure-fire hit.

So what’s the next logical step? Creating a movie which focuses on a female superhero of color — Ms. Marvel — of course. The fact that she is Muslim, a religion which is often unfairly stereotyped, has the ability to make it all the more powerful.

Before Marvel announced their planned acquisition of Fox, Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Entertainment, revealed that they had more than twenty potential movies in mind for the future of the MCU, movies that would take this mega franchise to new and exciting places. We can only hope that one of those planned movies is for Ms. Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is clearly ready for her.

3 Comments

  • Shara White January 25, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    YAS. So much this. I love Ms. Marvel, and until the epic crossover event, I read the comic regularly. Now, to be fair, I haven’t read ANY comic in ages, but crossovers kill my interest faster than anything. :-/

    Reply
    • Nancy O'Toole Meservier January 28, 2018 at 8:31 am

      Yeah, they’ve pretty much let her do her own thing since Civil War II, making crossovers pretty rare events (which is how they should be!). It’s kind of nice.

      Reply
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