To the surprise of absolutely no one, Disney and Marvel look to be banking on identity politics as a selling point for their upcoming Disney Plus Ms. Marvel television series.
Released alongside a number of other trailers as part of the company’s Disney Plus Day promotional event, the brief teaser serves as an introduction for audiences to both the star of the series, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), as well as her idolisation of Captain Marvel, opening on the assumedly-then-unpowered protagonist glancing up in awe at a light display made in Carol Danvers’ honor.
The trailer also features brief shots of what appears to be Kamala gaining her powers:
The young hero suiting up (for what may be the first time) in a Captain Marvel-inspired costume:
And four ominous figures standing amidst a cloud of smoke:
However, whilst the imagery of the trailer is not in and of itself based in identity politics – as even the shot of a group of Muslims in prayer is relevant to Kamala’s actual backstory – the pushing of this tired school of thinking can be heard narrated by the hero herself.
Speaking to a friend, assumedly either Bruno or his MCU equivalent (ala Ganke and Ned in the Tom Holland Spider-Man films), Kamala tells him, “It’s not really the brown girls from Jersey City who save the world.”
“Maybe now they do,” her companion replies.
Kamala’s assertion is, to say the least, confusing, as a large part of the MCU’s roster of heroes – and even some villains – came from similar humble beginnings.
After all, Steve Rogers, Bucky, and Spider-Man, three of the most important players in the war against Thanos, were all raised in underprivileged New York homes before finding themselves in positions where they could serve as heroes.
A number of non-white heroes also played pivotal roles in the Battle of Earth, including the Wakandans, Wong and various Masters of the Mystic Arts, War Machine, and The Falcon – who, as evidenced in The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, came from what appears to be even more rough and downtrodden circumstances than Kamala.
Further, outside of Black Panther and Thor, none of the other established MCU heroes were ever in a position where they could have their abilities ‘bestowed’ upon them as some sort of bloodline tradition.
Rather, the MCU is populated with heroes who either found themselves bestowed with powers completely by chance – such as Spider-Man, Hulk, and even Captain Marvel – or as the result of their years of suffering and training – as is the case with Iron Man, Star-Lord, or Captain America.
As such, it seems overly negative for Kamala to arbitrarily ‘other’ herself when, given the examples all around her, she should be more optimistic and hopeful that she might one day find herself called to fight such monumental battles for the fate of the universe.
Either way, it seems unnecessarily self-defeatist – though, isn’t all identity politics?
A synopsis for Ms. Marvel, as provided by Disney, can be read below:
Ms. Marvel introduces Kamala Khan—a 16-year-old Pakistani American from Jersey City. An aspiring artist, an avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, she is a huge fan of the Avengers—and one in particular, Captain Marvel. But Kamala has always struggled to find her place in the world—that is, until she gets super powers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Iman Vellani stars as Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel. The series is directed by executive producers Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah, Meera Menon and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, with executive producer Bisha K. Ali serving as head writer. “Ms. Marvel” premieres on Disney+ in Summer 2022.
What do you make of Marvel’s apparent emphasis on identity in Ms. Marvel? Let us know your thoughts on social media or in the comments down below!