Marvelous Rumour: ABC Potentially Planning Ms. Marvel Miniseries
For members of the Kamala Corps (fans of Kamala Khan) or Marvel’s superhero TV series’ more generally, there is good (albeit unsubstantiated) news! As IGN has reported, Ms. Marvel could be getting her own TV miniseries. According to these rumours, Oscar winner winner John Ridley has signed with Marvel for a yet-unnamed project, so it looks as though he might be the one set to direct the series, which will air on ABC in between seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
If in fact, Kamala does get her own series, this might mean a couple of things. First off, we will get a teenage geek-girl girl (with shapeshifting powers) as our star, hopefully drawing in the same female audience that her comic book has welcomed so warmly. This bodes well for ratings, as teen dramas on prime time are usually quite successful, or at the very least, manage to garner quite the cult following. Like the comic, the focus could be equal parts on Kamala-the-girl and Ms.Marvel-the-superhero (which might actually be easier on the show’s budget.)
Even more exciting, though, is the way in which Kamala’s closeness with her family in the comic might translate to a show, as a Ms. Marvel miniseries would provide the unique opportunity to put a Muslim, Pakistani family on a U.S. network, ideally during prime time. Along the same lines, a Ms. Marvel series could well serve a way to incorporate (read: sneak in) smart, funny commentary on race in America as seen through a superhero lens.
This might seem like a tall order, but ABC does seem to be more invested in “embiggening” diversity as of late, touting both the widely-acclaimed (and pretty great) sitcom Fresh Off the Boat, as well as the lesser-known Cristela, both of which feature racially diverse, non-whitefamilies. Interestingly, both of those shows are also sitcoms, so how might a series that is more drama/action than sitcom approach, depict, and most importantly, market, racial diversity? Though ABC might be game to try, I am especially wary of the possible marketing angle, especially given their reductive gaffe while promoting Fresh Off the Boat, which featured the first Asian-American family on prime time in twenty years.
Because Ms Marvel’s comic deals with race, identity, and Islamophobia in such nuanced, sophisticated ways, here’s hoping that a TV adaptation would attempt to engage with those aspects of the comic in a manner that still retains some of those nuances. As Ms. Marvel’s comic book creators are careful to present Kamala’s Muslim identity without being heavy-handed or stereotypical about it, how far might a TV series go to preserve that when people are already complaining about the lack of Carol Danvers in such a series (again, friends, don’t read the comments!)
A series focused on Kamala Khan also begs the question of whether a Pakistani actress will be cast to play Kamala, or whether someone whose skin is a miscellaneous shade of brown is all that we can expect. And hey, if they are going to include Kamala’s love interest/buddy Kamran in the series, rumour also has it that this guy might have some time on his hands. (Unlikely, yes, but how perfect would that be, especially for a show that’s hopefully geared towards a teen female audience?)
In any case, like the comic, a Ms. Marvel TV series would provide the opportunity to blend genres to tell a new kind of superhero story. Here’s hoping that we get to see it!