Kamala Kahn: The Movie Era’s First Superhero?

by Carter Glace

Via Dawn

Despite existing for a little over a year, Kamala Kahn is already a super star in the superhero world. The new Ms. Marvel has found herself a media darling, as well as a New York Times bestseller and Eisner Award nominee. Given the rise of super heroes as their own multi-media empires, Kamala is already set to make appearances in the Avengers animated series and the new Lego Avengers game.

Perhaps the biggest leap potentially came last summer, as rumors came that Marvel was planning a TV show based on their new hero with the help of writer John Ridley. While there has been no concrete evidence, the idea of seemed somewhat inevitable, as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe looks to continue growing exponentially.

However, among the discussion points brought up regarding Ms. Marvel’s future is that, given her newness, incorporating her into television and film would mean that those would be as much a driving factor of her character as the comics. Whereas the members of the Cinematic Universe have had decades of comic history to work on driving the direction and characters, she’s had a handful of stories and maybe one original villain. This would force the studio to create massive amounts of content, dictating to the next ten years of writers what Kamala is, as oppose to letting her personality develop and define itself through years of experimentation like every other comic hero.

At the same time, it may be an unprecedented opportunity. The boundary between film and comic being torn down can be a little disappointing to say the least, but it fits for the character. After all, what is her defining trait so far? Fangirl-ism. Her character is very much a surrogate character for fans, looking up to the same heroes we grew up with. More importantly, it defines her life, as she wishes to be more “normal”/”perfect” like them; given the constant cultural scrutiny she lives in. She works best in environments with abundant superheroes, so why not put her in a world that pays heavy emphasis to the broader scope of the universe and how the appearance of heroes affects daily life? More over, she struggles with living in a post-9/11 world as a Muslim girl. With MCU’s heavy emphasis on 9/11-esque iconography and the affects of such world-shaking destruction, it’s a no brainer to put the character into that landscape, especially considering comics are more and more abandoning those concepts.More importantly, it may be necessary.

Like it or not, the defining image of super heroes now is television and film. Paradoxically, as comic sales stay relatively the same, films continue to make them the pop-culture talking point of the moment. Kamala Kahn is one of the first great attempts to add variety and newness into a genre still almost exclusively drive by decades-old characters. As the pool of adaptable heroes seems to grow smaller and smaller, the industries’ creative stagnation becomes more apparent, making each new hero a precious resource. If we want her to be the hero for the modern era, she needs to be presented in the modern form.

Carter Glace is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at entertainment@nyunews.com

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