Iman Vellani On Making History As Marvel’s First Muslim Superhero In Disney+’s ‘Ms Marvel’


Ms. Marvel is a superhero with a crucial difference. Born Kamala Khan, the 16-year-old Pakistani-American from Jersey City is Marvel’s first Muslim character to be the star of her own comic book—and her origin story is the focus of the new six-part Disney+ series Ms. Marvel. Created by Bisha K. Ali and directed by Bilall Fallah, Adil El Arbi, Meera Menon, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, it’s both a heart-pumping action epic and a charming coming-of-age drama following a high schooler as she squabbles with her family, navigates friendships, crushes, and bullies, and tries to make decisions about her future, all the while getting to grips with her new superpowers.

Integral to its success is Iman Vellani, the 19-year-old Karachi-born, Ontario-raised Marvel super-fan who makes a barnstorming screen debut as Kamala, imbuing the wide-eyed teenager with warmth, goofiness, and vulnerability. We meet her as she is trying to persuade her strict parents (Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur) to let her attend AvengerCon dressed as Captain Marvel with her best friend, Bruno (Matt Lintz). When they refuse, the pair devise a plan to sneak out behind their backs but, at the convention, Kamala is shocked to discover that she suddenly has the ability to shoot out bursts of energy from her hand. Can she learn to master this new gift and use it for the greater good? How will it change her life? And how can she possibly keep it secret from her parents?

As Ms. Marvel begins airing on Disney+, with new episodes arriving weekly, Vellani spoke to us about how working on the show gave her a renewed appreciation for her own Pakistani heritage, her next outing as Kamala in the superhero saga The Marvels, and being mentored by Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson.

Vogue: I read that you once dressed as Ms. Marvel for Halloween. How long have you been obsessed with this character?

Iman Vellani: So, my high school is across the street from a comic book shop. I was deeply obsessed with Iron Man and I just wanted to read more of those Invincible Iron Man comics. And then I picked up an Ironheart comic with Riri Williams, who’s also getting her own Disney+ show, and Ms. Marvel was actually on the cover of that one. I was like, “Who is this brown person?” [Laughs.] And I went down this rabbit hole of Ms. Marvel comics and completely fell in love with her. I must have been 15 or 16. My grandma and I sewed the Ms. Marvel costume together and I wore it for Halloween. Absolutely no one knew who I was except my English teacher, who was also a comic book nerd. Everyone thought I was The Flash, which was really annoying. I had to go across the street, buy a Ms, Marvel comic, and carry it with me. But like, who’s laughing now?



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