New Marvel shows and movies are being unveiled at a dizzying rate, but the announcement of its latest star warrants different attention. On March 15, the studio released the first trailer for Ms. Marvel, a new TV series that introduces the extended universe’s first Muslim superhero.
19-year-old newcomer Iman Vellani plays the title role—the series is listed as her first-ever credit on IMDB)—while her parents are played by longtime actors Zenobia Shroff and Mohan Kapur. The show, which premieres June 8, was created by Bisha K. Ali, who has previous writing experience on Loki and the television adaptation of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Ms. Marvel centers on Kamala Khan, a relatively recent addition to the Marvel canon, as she was introduced in 2013. Khan stems from Jersey City, NJ, and has the power to shapeshift and change her appearance. She takes up the name Ms. Marvel, which had previously been used by other characters, including Carol Danvers (who Brie Larsen plays in Captain Marvel). In the comics, she’s known for working with Captain Marvel herself, as well as Wolverine, later becoming part of The Avengers.
Given the Marvel universe’s love of high-profile cameos, it’s quite likely we’ll see some of the established stars make appearances in Ms. Marvel. The trailer establishes Ms. Marvel’s tone—it’s unclear if the animated text shown here will actually be part of the series, but it certainly ups the quirky factor, balancing Kamala’s coming-of-age story with a few doses of glossy MCU action. (It also makes excellent use of The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” a song basically tailor-made for blockbuster trailers like this one.)
Vellani comes off charming in a way not dissimilar from Tom Holland’s aw-shucks Spider-Man, while also getting in a few clever quips that feel more in the realm of heady teen comedies like The Edge of Seventeen or Easy A. She hasn’t done much press about the series yet, but in an August 2021 interview with Variety, she spoke about the potential impact Ms. Marvel could have on viewers.
“The fact that the show is being made and they’re including this character in the MCU is [what’s important],” Vellani said. “I don’t really have to go out of my way and talk about being a Muslim and being Pakistani — it all comes out in the show. People seeing a person like me involved in a project as big as this is, I think, inspiring enough.”
Over the last few years, Marvel has been the subject of criticism for the lack of diversity in its films. More recently, the studio has incorporated a wider range of characters. Notably, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings earned significant critical praise, while Eternals was met with a more muted response.
Ms. Marvel is part of a deluge of new superhero TV shows being rolled out this year on Disney+, including the upcoming Moon Knight with Oscar Isaac, She-Hulk starring Tatiana Maslany, and Secret Invasion, headlined by longtime franchise member Samuel L. Jackson. Vellani will also be playing the role in 2023’s film The Marvels alongside Larson and Jackson.