There is groundbreaking, and then there is groundbreaking at a level that reaches a committed, mainstream audience.
For many Marvel fans, Ms. Marvel had many of the characteristics of what you would expect from the brand – emotional efforts, action sequences and spicy one-liners.
But Mrs. Marvel had an extra element that elevates the series above a superhero show running on the mill – a story centered on the Muslim-American teenager Kamala Khan that shows not only her community but also her family’s historical trauma with a narrative focus on 1947- the partition of India.
It’s not something you would ever expect to get up in a mainstream superhero series.
“We grew up watching so many movies and TV series where there were certain depictions of Muslims and Islam and we felt that [with Ms Marvel]we’re somehow creating history or TV history or Hollywood history, ” Mrs. Marvel episode one and six co-director Adil El Arbi told news.com.au.
“It was a great honor.”
El Arbis co-director Bilall Fallah agreed that the series had a huge impact on fans who saw themselves reflected, but said it has been the reactions from the wider community that have really moved him.
“You have this reaction from the Muslim community and Muslim girls who are super proud,” Fallah said. ‘But there are people who have nothing to do with being a Muslim girl from New Jersey. Watching the series touch all these people around the world from different countries – some from Brazil, some from South Korea – that’s what keeps me going. ”
For executive producer Sana Amanat, it has been a much longer and personal journey. She was one of the creators of Mrs. Marvel when the character first appeared in cartoon form.
A Pakistani-American woman, Amanat, has lived many of Kamala Khan’s experiences, including a love of dance – “She did a full dance sequence, after she met a boy, we got two dance sequences in this show, which is a huge, huge feat, one of the dreams of my life ”.
Amanat has found joy in the series’ largely positive reception. “For the most part, it has been so positive, and to see the relief and excitement in people’s voices over having this type of representation out there.
“People feel like there’s some cheese in it, it’s sweet, and it’s alive, but people really feel like it’s authentic and genuine and honest, and that makes me so happy.”
Unfortunately, there was a backlash from certain segments of the internet community as the “reviewer bombed” the show, targeting it for daring to show a superhero who was female and Muslim.
“It’s disappointing when people get so angry about something and it’s like, ‘I do not know why we offend you,'” Amanat said. “We’re just trying to make a show and entertain some people. And art doesn’t have to be for every single person the same way.
“I also do not like everything that is out there, it is a part of life. I just wish they would not try to take us down, do not report the bomb to us. Come on, boys. “
Prefers to focus on the good and not the regressive, and Amanat has been “overwhelmed” by the response to the show’s finale. She was up until 6 p.m. 03.00 after the release (it falls at midnight in the US where Amanat lives) and looked at reviews and feedback.
And one of the aspects of the show that has really resonated with fans has been immersed in Kamala’s family history, including a half-episode that takes place in the past in the years leading up to Partition, the event in which the former British colony of India was divided into the , which is now India and Pakistan, and divided the country along religious lines.
The split displaced millions of people, causing chaos and heartache for those who lost their homes, their lives and their families. To weave Kamala’s family history into the ugly episode position Mrs. Marvel as a show that cares deeply about the lasting effects of historical and generational traumas.
It was a thread from the comics, but one that was only on a few pages across dozens of numbers. The team behind the series decided to pull in that thread to see where it went.
“It was the anchor point because you are talking about a really important moment in history that affected so many lives,” Amanat explained. “We told it in a simple way through the perspective of a family and a family whose lives were forever changed at this moment in history, just as so many families’ lives were.
“What does it do to the character dynamics of these individuals, specifically of these women? What is lost when trauma occurs? You lose not only your sense of power, but also the understanding of what your power is and how to use it. It is truly the story of Kamala and her family, this power that was passed on to her. ”
Kamala’s regaining that power by discovering her family history is therefore Mrs. Marvel hits so hard. And connecting it with literal superpowers is a potent manifestation of that. When Amanat heard the word “recycling” in relation to Mrs. Marvelshe woke up noticeably.
“Reclamation is what this show is all about in many, many ways,” she said excitedly. “She has to understand her story and where her power came from to regain it.
“I love it. I think that word resonates with me because we as South Asians, as Muslims, as people of color also try to reclaim our history. This show is about reclaiming it and celebrating it.”
Ms Marvel is now streaming on Disney +