Actors of South Asian origin, including Mindy Kaling and Riz Ahmed, are all excited about the plans of Marvel Cinematic Universe to introduce the studio’s first Muslim superhero, Ms Marvel, in a movie. While Ahmed, a British Pakistani actor-musician, took to Twitter to ask Disney and Marvel Studios if he can work on the Ms Marvel screenplay, social media users have been engaged in discussions over the possibility of Bollywood actor Priyanka Chopra featuring in the project.
“So when do @MarvelStudios want me @mindykaling @kumailn to get started on the MsMarvel screenplay?’ Ahmed tweeted on May 16.
Kaling retweeted Ahmed’s request and added: “Riz! I am obsessed with this comic book, I’ve read them all. I love Kamala Khan.”
Plans about the new film character were recently confirmed by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who told BBC about the idea of making a movie on Ms Marvel (also known as Kamala Khan). “Ms Marvel, which is another character in the comic books, the Muslim hero who is inspired by Captain Marvel, definitely sort of in the works. We have plans for that once we’ve introduced Captain Marvel to the world,” Feige said.
The news comes after the success of Black Panther, which pushed the barrier for diversity and representation of colored people in a superhero film.
The tweets by Ahmed and Kaling, however, faced backlash, with several social media users pointing out that they do not have an understanding of an experience of a young Pakistani Muslim American girl.
Ahmed is British Pakistani, while Kaling is an Indian American and Nanjiani is a Pakistani American man. Many even went as far as saying that they don’t want Nanjiani near the screenplay as his movie, The Big Sick, reduced brown women to stereotypes.
“While this is a well-intentioned idea and I love all of y’all, and all 3 of you being established figures in Hollywood helps the cause, none of you have the relevant experience growing up as a Pakistani Muslim-American girl? Maybe give a shout-out to a writer who fits the bill?,” a Twitter user called Annie posted.
Another Twitter user suggested that the writers of the award-winning comics themselves should write the screenplay. “Muslim women and their experiences are already so heavily misconstrued by the media, I think actual Muslim women, @MiniB622 @GWillowWilson , who created MsMarvel, are most appropriate,” wrote @Samaira_Saleem. “Stop discrediting their work by assuming any brown person with a platform would do a good job.”
It is not just the idea of three of them penning the screenplay that is getting a mixed response, it is also the casting. While several users rallied behind actor Priyanka Chopra for playing the part, as she has already voiced the character in the Avengers Academy video game, many pointed out that she is of Indian descent and not a Pakistani.
Kamala Khan made her debut appearance in the comics in 2013 as a fan of Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), after which she had her own comic series. The character is created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona.