Traumadvise: This column may not be appropriate for those who hold religion in holy terror. It could also upset Islamophobes. We prefer to inform you.
Posted at 11:00 am
There is a new female superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the famous MCU). She is 16 years old, her name is Kamala Khan, lives in Jersey City and has Pakistani roots. Would she – trigger warning, as young people say – Muslim? Yes.
Her superhero is not called Muslimwoman, but Ms. Marvel. She is the headliner of the six-episode miniseries of the same name, which debuted on the Disney+ platform on Wednesday. She is a dissolute high school student, marginalized geekette, more interested in superhero fan meetings than her math or biology exams, much to the chagrin of her parents, who are more conservative immigrants.
I watched the first episode of Ms. Marvel with Fiston, who seemed less interested in the adventures of this teenager his age than those of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who nonetheless has mine. “Because it’s a girl?” I asked him. “No, because she is Muslim!” ‘ he replied tit for tat, with an added layer of irony. I understood that it was the teen-bullyed-outside-their-locker-box cliché at the very beginning of the episode that he found hackneyed, and with good reason.
Happily, Ms. Marvel, a charming series that includes elements of animation is not limited to this. It’s the story of a cheeky teenager who adores Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, the key character in the Avengers. Her goddess is she. One day, when she discovers a mysterious bracelet that her family sent from Pakistan, Kamala accidentally transforms into a superhero.
Ms. Marvel is not limited to the clichés of teen shows, although it includes the codes. And it is no longer limited to the caricature that Christian or atheist militants wanted to make of it. This week a private Facebook group with about 16,000 members, Christians Against Ms. MarvelHe lashed out at the Disney+ series for portraying a Muslim family.
Others were outraged by what they interpreted as religion’s first incursion into a hitherto exempt universe, that of superheroes. One detail: it’s wrong. You don’t need to know anything about the culture comic books Americans and their television and film derivatives claim that their characters, who are themselves considered demigods, are not religious.
The newest superhero in a Marvel Disney+ series, Moon Knight is Jewish, as are Magneto and Kitty Pryde from the X-Men. Captain America is Christian, as is Daredevil. What do they have in common that it could not bother anyone or inspire a chronicle?
No matter how hard I think, I can’t say for sure. Wait ! No, it doesn’t have to be, that would be too easy. Could it be because none of them are… Muslims?
Two parts of a robot, as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, would say. Ms. Marvel is Muslim. It’s barely mentioned in the first episode, but – another traumatic warning for those who see religion in their soup and swoon at the sight of a veil – the teenager prays in the mosque in the series’ trailer. They will recite a hundred Ave Maria (in Latin) to cast out the image just described. With a little holy water it should pass. The Pastor’s Word.
What I find deliciously ironic in the speech of those who are outraged that a female superhero can identify with Islam – like some 2 billion of her co-religionists – is the beam of the crucifix which, as a man, she does not see in her own eye see said once called jesus.
It takes willful blindness with apostolic zeal not to realize how many MCU film scenes were shot in churches or cemeteries and contain Christian religious rites. I know I’ve seen all the MCU movies and series.
A columnist was shocked by the scene of a mosque prayer, but not a church prayer? God knows what the difference is. I’m looking, I’m looking Could the columnist consider that YOUR religion, Catholic secularism, is a cultural heritage rather than a religious practice? Would it be a form of religious neutrality for them? So what’s good for Pitou isn’t necessarily good for Minou?
Played by Toronto’s Iman Vellani, Kamala Khan holds no prejudices about the submissive Muslim woman some are fond of portraying. She only wears the veil in the mosque, unlike her friend who does it voluntarily. She is a gentle rebel who challenges the strict traditional values of her parents, who protect and care for her more than her brother because she is a girl, she believes.
She dreams of Manhattan and a handsome dark man, listens to The Weeknd and adores the Avengers. She doesn’t deny her ethnicity, but likes to pick out a new saree and go to her neighborhood Pakistani grocery store with her mother.
“We will see children of immigrants who are proud of their culture,” Iman Vellani told my colleague Pascal LeBlanc this week.
Ms. Marvel lives in Jersey City, but she could have lived in Markham, the young actress’ hometown, or in the Parc-Extension neighborhood of Montreal. It is not political correctness or “diversity fad” to feature characters who are non-white, male, and Christian. It is meant to bear witness to realities all too often concealed, to get out of the usual ruts, to give a more faithful representation of the society in which we live.
I was just talking about it this week with members of the Group of Thirty, young ambassadors of Montreal’s ethnocultural diversity who still don’t recognize themselves enough in our television and cinema. You’re right, although fortunately things are changing.
One final traumatic warning, this time for xenophobia: according to the 2016 census, more than a third of Montreal’s population was foreign-born and more than half are immigrants. You have to get used to seeing young brunette women in life and on screen.