Ms Marvel: MCU Gives Us First Muslim Superhero, But Why? The Fervour Of Muslim American Family Is Desperate And Laughably Ineffective!

It is wonderful to have an Asian American girl aspiring to be a superhero but Ms Marvel throws the most obnoxious stereotypes in our face

13502 Reads |  

Ms Marvel: MCU Gives Us First Muslim Superhero, But Why? The Fervour Of Muslim American Family Is Desperate And Laughably Ineffective!
For months now, we’ve been hearing of the first Muslim super-hero, and that too a female, and to a 16-year old the self-congratulatory tone of the ‘revolutionary’ announcement had me agog.

I sat through Episode 1 of Ms Marvel on Disney+Hotstar marvelling at the sheer temerity of the endeavour. Yes, it is wonderful to have an Asian American girl aspiring to be a superhero. Having gotten that in place, Ms Marvel throws the most obnoxious stereotypes in our face.


And I mean, really cheap shots, like Pakistani parents who after living in America for years still speak in that sing-song accent that you will hear in American television series. It wasn’t there in Kumail Nanjiani’s wonderful film The Big Sick, so I presume American movies on the Pakistani experience are exempt from the clutches of vicious stereotyping.

Here in Ms Marvel, there is no dearth of it. The mom Muneeba played with an alarming gusto by Zenobia Shroff, is the typical over-protective mother who won’t let her free-spirited daughter Kamala fly high…literally:  Kamala wants to be a super-hero. Mom won’t let her. “Make up your mind whether you want to be a grounded girl or one of those cosmic fantasy girls,” says Mom.


No answer is required to that one. Though we do get an answer at the end of the episode. Suspense, Suspense.

Keeping in faith with almost everything in the episode, mom Zubeena is full of glaring contradictions. She is a conservative  Pakistani at heart who won’t allow her daughter to go out at the night. But she doesn’t mind daughter Kamala’s male American best friend Bruno visiting her daughter at any time of the day or night. Mubeena even packs cartons of Pakistani food for  Bruno to take home. So sweet.

Oh, Kamala’s father is played by our own Mohan Kapur. He tries hard to hold on to his “Pakistani” accent and then gives up midway. Sensible chap. The couple has a son with a very fake beard who is heavily into religion. Let’s  give him his space

Incidentally, what’s with this ‘Kamala’(pronounced Kuh-maallah)  name? As far as I know, it comes from Kamal, a Hindi/Sanskrit word with no Pakistani affiliation. Not that it matters. Kamala by any other name would be just as unbearable.


The young actress Iman Vellani playing Kuh-mallah is annoyingly pantomimic. She does an imitation of exactly what an Asian American teenager would do. But it all seems derivative, borrowed. A  fresh-faced imitation of the real thing.

“It’s gonna be epic,” Kamala screams at some point in the first episode. I doubt it. Ms Marvel’s first episode did not bore me. But it made me question the very existence of the first  Muslim super-hero. Why?

The atmospheric pressure to get the flavours and fervour of a Muslim American family are desperately and laughably ineffective. At one point the soundtrack comes alive to the sound of  Ko Ko Korina the evergreen  1966 Pakistani song from the film Armaan which was re-recorded by Coke  Studios in 2028. The remix was widely panned as phoney and opportunistic. I would rate the first episode of Ms Marvel as the equivalent of the  Coke Studios' version of Ko Ko Korina.

Image Source: Instagram