Marvel’s latest Disney Plus series Ms Marvel introduces us to the first Muslim superhero and the ultimate Avengers fan-girl, Kamala Khan. Kamala (Iman Vellani) spends her time daydreaming about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and fighting alongside her icon, Captain Marvel.


Sound familiar? Her infectious joy for superheroes mirrors the real-life fan culture of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as she builds her Captain Marvel cosplay, vlogs her superhero theories and plans her social calendar around the first AvengerCon.

While our titular hero doesn’t have a Loki or Thanos to fight yet, she faces an altogether more recognisable adversary in the form of her protective parents, who stand in her way of attending the biggest fan-event in history.

Kamala’s mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) and father Yusuf (Mohan Kapur) represent an old-fashioned view of what it is to be a fan – they are concerned that Kamala is losing her sense of reality by fantasising about and dressing up as superheroes.

In fact, as any fan can attest, the truth is the complete opposite. Kamala is energised by her idols; it fuels her imagination and creativity to create the best handmade costume for the event with her best friend Bruno (Matt Lintz in the Ms Marvel cast).

Iman Vellani as Ms Marvel/Kamala Khan
Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in Ms Marvel Daniel McFadden/Marvel Studios

She defies the pressure to grow up, ‘focus on her future’ and renounce all her passions – and in doing so she finds her true calling from her ancestor’s gauntlet that awakens the supernatural powers inside her.

Kamala stays true to herself and orchestrates an elaborate plan to sneak out undetected. Sadly, life is rarely as smooth or as stylish as our fantasies and Kamala’s swish plan to somersault out of her bedroom window is squandered when she falls out and thuds to the ground.

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It goes from bad to worse from there, but Kamala’s dedication to her fandom (and AvengerCon) pays off in more ways than one, as she finds herself at the heart of her own origin story.

She starts with the belief that "brown girls from New Jersey" don’t save the world, but it is only when Kamala embraces her whole self – her heritage and her love for superheroes – that she can discover who she really is and realise that she is remarkable in her own right too.

While Kamala becomes exactly what she idolises, a superhero, she also represents every Marvel fan in her new situation. Kamala references iconic phrases, attends events and finds any way to discuss her favourite superheroes, similar to the nature of the fandom on MarvelTok and ComicCon.

Crucially, fandoms are presented in a positive light in the show: they bring people together, inspire problem solving and creativity in making costumes, videos or fan fiction. AvengerCon is the hub of this community as it provides a safe space for people to be themselves without judgement – even the popular school girl sports her superhero costume.

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Kamala’s narrative represents the power that fan culture gives to individuals and emphasises that we can find strength in being authentic. In the real world, fans won’t find that family heirlooms ignite their superhero powers, but Kamala reminds us that we can all find power in being true to ourselves.

The series takes pride in showing there’s no shame in being a fan and shows gratitude to the very people who keep the ever-expanding franchise going – Marvel fans themselves.

Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia Bahadir with Matt Lintz as Bruno Carrelli and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in Ms Marvel
Yasmeen Fletcher as Nakia Bahadir with Matt Lintz as Bruno Carrelli and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in Ms Marvel Marvel Studios

The MCU has always had a unique relationship with its fans, as Marvel boss Kevin Feige has said in the past that the fans dictate what movies and series they will release in the future.

The most requested project was a Black Widow solo film, that eventually was made, while the brief exchange in Captain America: Civil War about moving a car seat captured the potential chemistry between Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s characters and that later led to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

It seems that the MCU is acknowledging that these beloved superheroes only exist as there are fans out there who give them a life beyond the films. They live and breathe these stories that offer encouragement to embrace the good inside of each of us and navigate through the difficult times as well, and through Ms Marvel they now have their own fitting tribute.

Ms Marvel is streaming now on Disney Plus, with new episodes arriving on Wednesdays. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now. Check out more of our Sci-Fi and Fantasy coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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