Marvel Comics is expanding its superhero stable to include a teenage Muslim girl as a lead character.
Growing up as a person of color– and an Asian one at that– I was embarrassingly comfortable with not being portrayed in the mainstream media. Having an Indian or Asian superhero was an outlandish thought, although the growth of the Asian population in the United States has begun to swell. Superman, Batman, and other great heroes were white, and I was okay with that.
It wasn’t until later on life when I realized that this lack of representation was upsetting. What about our life experiences? Our struggles against language, culture, and racism? This anger slowly began to build.
But now, we can be thankful for Marvel Comics introducing a Muslim Girl superhero. It was born out of a discussion between two Marvel writers, one of whom is Muslim American. After further elaboration and approval from another comic writer who agreed to collaborate, the character of Kamala Khan was successfully created.
Kamala Khan’s parents are from Pakistan, and so Kamala has to deal with her own villains at home: her mother’s fear of her potentially holding hands with a boy, her conservative brother, and her father’s ambition to have her become a doctor. These issues will add cultural perspective and character to an otherwise primarily white cast of superheroes.
While the creative team is prepared for whatever reactions may come, the editor-in-chief of Marvel Entertainment succintly stated, “When you see Spider-Man strip down his mask and he looks like you, you’re more inspired to pick up the book.”
Here’s to hoping that many young Asians will pick up these comic books, identify with Kamala’s universal and cultural struggles, and feel representative in American society.