So I spoke a little bit yesterday about comic books in television and made a little jab at how we still don’t have a Wonder Woman movie yet while Marvel has given a supporting female character her very own show. On the comics side of things, Marvel has actually done another fairly progressive rework with one of their lead characters. Ms. Marvel is a name that has been used by multiple women as a cover. She was originally Carol Danvers, and she was the badass blonde that you might expect for a comic book’s leading lady:
However, in her fourth and most recent iteration, Ms. Marvel is now Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager of the Muslim faith. She is the first Muslim character to headline a Marvel franchise, which I think is awesome. Also, Carol Danvers was promoted to Captain Marvel, so that’s pretty cool too.
The tale is an immigrant’s coming of age story. Khan is integrated into American culture (and she is apparently a pretty big nerd who likes to write Avengers’ fanfic). She needs to deal with the culture clash of her parent’s world and her own teen world. She also has to handle the unintentional racism and lack of cultural understanding from her high school peers. Of course, on top of all the normal hardships of being a teenager, she is gifted with super powers that she has to learn to control.
American fiction (literary or otherwise) is sorely lacking in heroes and heroines of other cultures. There is very little ethnic or racial diversity among the protagonists of comic books or young adult novels, not to mention a lack of sexual or gender based diversity. I think young people especially need to see people who are like them taking over the role of the hero so that they can see that they could be heroes too, and that you don’t have to be another skin color, sexuality, or gender to be important and save the day.
Naturally we won’t see a change towards more diversity over night. But this is a small step in the right direction.