Ms. Marvel

Kamala: Captain America…Iron Man…Captain Marvel?! You speak Urdu?

Captain Marvel: We are faith. We speak languages of beauty and hardship.

Kamala: Okay then. I am totes hallucinating. I must be ultra drunk. 

Iron Man: You are seeing what you need to see. You stand at a crossroads.

Captain America: You thought that if you disobeyed your parents–your culture, your religion– your classmates would accept you. What happened instead?

Kamala: They–they laughed at me.

Zoe thought that because I snuck out, it was okay for her to make fun of my family. Like, Kamala’s finally seen the light and kicked the dumb inferior brown people and their rules to the curb.

(page 16)

This is the point of the story where Kamala is the most confused; Captain America, Captain Marvel, and Iron Man approach Kamala amidst the mysterious fog in order to teach her some sort of lesson. Kamala is leaving the party she disobeyed her parents in order to attend at this point of the story. The fact that the superheroes “speak Urdu”, an Indo-Aryan language, is said to be because they are “faith,” meaning they have trust in being a savior to this language full of “hardship.” Kamala may not see her language, culture, and religion as beautiful, but her biggest role models do.

Iron Man tells Kamala that she is “seeing what [she] need[s] to see.” This is important because at this point the readers get this sense that the superheroes come to Kamala in order to open her eyes to the beauty of her culture and religion that she does not see. Kamala envies her white classmates for being white, she feels her own identity is “complicated” and she is embarrassed with all aspects of her culture.

As Captain America comments, Kamala felt that her classmates would “accept” her if she disobeyed her parents, her culture, and religion. It is important to note Captain America’s accusatory expression at this point, he looks disappointed with Kamala and Kamala looks frightened, upset, and embarrassed as she expresses that her classmates were not accepting of her, they instead just laughed at her. Kamala attempted to ditch all aspects that make her who she is in order to be accepted, rather than just embracing who she was, and she is now realizing how much of a failure this was. Her disobeying allowed for Zoe to feel like she could make fun of Kamala’s family and people, seeing as Kamala was so quick to not defend them and to disobey them. Kamala has not fully realized at this point in the comic book. that being embarrassed of her culture, religion, and family allows for others to walk over these things and see them as inferior.

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10 thoughts on “Ms. Marvel

  1. Super Heroes are the modern day myths, so Kamala’s Terrigen induced hallucination shows the reader how such a connection is made in her mind. And by becoming a super hero, Kamala is becoming a mythic hero in a sense.
    It is really telling that, even with her shape-shifting abilities, Kamala eventually makes the choice to change little about herself when doing superheroics. Muslim people are a minority in the United States, and they face oppression due to the fear embedded in the American population. Kamala, as Ms. Marvel, is an attempt to change this. In a sense, she is this generation’s Spider-Man, a hero with the qualities of something feared, who, despite public opinion and backlash, seeks to make the world a better place, and be a hero for heroic’s sake.

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  2. This was definitely a key park in the story of how Kamala became a superhero. Also very important was what Captain Marvel said to her just before she passed out. She said to Kamala, “It is not going to turn out the way you think.” The rest of the comic was mostly about Kamala figuring out her new powers and figuring out who she is and her role as a new superhero. Being part of a minority group in America, especially one that faces so many misconceptions, Kamala already had a difficult time trying to figure out how she wanted to present herself to her peers. As much as this is a superhero story, I think it is also a story about finding oneself in the face of many hardships and misunderstandings.

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  3. These panels also really stuck out to me as I went through the reading. I like how you brought up her embarrassment with regards to her culture and background. The fact that her attempt at fitting in only backfired allowed her to experience a shift in thinking and embrace who she is and become a real superhero.

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  4. When I read this section, I also came to the conclusion that Kamala’s disobedience was an attempt to be liked and accepted by her classmates. Unfortunately though, instead of being accepted for breaking the rules, her classmates just laughed at Kamala. I think that this speaks a lot about our present culture because kids are always bending over backwards in order to fit in with their peers. Our culture has created an environment where everyone wants to be like everyone else because they want to seem ‘cool.’ What everyone is failing to realize is that it is ‘cool’ to be unique and different from everyone else.

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  5. I think that Kamala stands for the confusion that minority teens face in America. They often times struggle with following their own culture and their social culture. I think that Kamala is a symbol of coming to find out who you are despite all the labels that society may put on you. I like how initial she would transform into Captain Marvel but then later on she would just have a mask but still her body. To me, this shows that she is beginning to find out who she is, in her culture and in the world. She is becoming more comfortable with being herself and she understands that it is not worth it to be anyone else.

    -Serina Thomas

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  6. I myself never quite understood this scene. The three heroes are not the actual heroes themselves but are part of “faith”. I guess it adds to the mystique of the origin’s story. However, first panel on the next page I understand clearly. According to Kamala, the reason she snuck out was “… not that I think Ammi and Abu are dumb, it’s just- – I grew up here! I’m from Jersey City, not Karachi” (Wilson and Alphona, 17). She grew up in Jersey City but her parents immigrated from Pakistan. Their different upbringings prevents them from understanding each other. That being said, for once she should have listened to her parents because her classmates laughed at her. On a side note: ha ha, sloth with wings.
    Jiapeng Zhao

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  7. Before anything else, I’d like to comment on the fact that Captain America scolded Kamala for attempting to reject her own family and her own culture. This was just an aspect that I liked and was interesting to me- it almost struck me as a cross-section post-war American culture accepting and welcoming a new culture. It might have just been a feel-good moment that might not have accurately reflected reality, but I liked it. I also liked Wenchiao’s comment regarding the fact that superheroes are the modern day equivalent of mythology- the views they project tend to come off as morals not unlike those found in the ancient Greek/Roman stories.
    -Jimmy Nolan

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  8. Kamala is going through your typical coming of age story. She is trying to decipher who she is, which is a bit difficult in the society and cultural society she is growing up in. When she finally does start getting into the idea of Captain Marvel it is her beginning to find herself. Although this story isn’t mainly about her getting to know who she is, it is very important to see the characteristics of a bildungsroman novel, a coming of age novel.

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  9. This conversation between Kamala and the superheros defines the critical roles superheros play in stories. They show up out of the fog to aid kamala in making her realize the importance of her diversity and in return the mist grants her powers. I also agree that when iron man quotes “You are seeing what you need to see. You stand at a crossroads.” he plans to open the eyes of kamala. In her failed efforts to fit in, she is laughed at by her peers and is left in a state of devastation. This occurrence is very common and relatable in american culture.

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  10. Kamala is having a difficult time accepting who she is. Captain Marvel said we speak languages of hardship and beauty. This is just goes to show Kamala that her background is beautiful despite the fact that there are hardships associated with it. She does not have a full understanding of the importance of her background yet before she is a superhero. Instead, she rejects all of it. It is true that she is standing at a crossroad and seeing what she needs to see her from role models. Eventually, she will become a superhero but only after accepting her differences and learning that disobeying her parents was not actually a smart idea.

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