Image copyright Marvel Image caption Kamala Khan was created by Marvel in 2014 and will make its debut in a video game adaptation later this year.
“It is the representation in the games that I have waited for all my life.”
The Marvel Avengers are meeting once again, not on the big screen, but for a hugely successful video game.
It features many of the superheroes you can expect, including Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America. But they join a new addition: Kamala Khan.
The Pakistani Muslim-American teenager, who has shape-shifting skills, is the latest character to adopt the nickname Ms Marvel.
When the publisher of the game Square Enix announced that Marvel Avengers would include Kamala Khan as one of its main playable characters and make it central to the plot, it received praise from fans and industry experts.
“I first heard about Marvel a few years ago,” says Maria Afsar, a 25-year-old player.
“I immediately thought it was just as cool when she read her background as mine, being Pakistani, Muslim and a girl.
“When I saw the announcement that she will be in the game and one of the main characters, I thought I was literally expecting something like that all my life. I didn’t see anything like that when I was younger.”
Image copyright Marvel Image caption Ms Marvel will be one of the main playable characters, in addition to Black Widow, among others.
Kamala Khan was co-created by Marvel editor and director Sana Amanat in 2014.
A Muslim-American herself, Sana Amanat wanted to create a character that young people of similar origin could identify and admire.
“I think it’s absolutely insane that Kamala is in one of the biggest Marvel games we’ve ever made,” she said during the game’s promotion.
“The fact that she is the main character in this game makes a lot of sense. People from all backgrounds can relate to her.”
The multiple incarnations of Lady Marvel
The Ms Marvel nickname has been used by several white characters in Marvel comics since 1976, including Sharon Ventura and Karla Sofen.
But the first incarnation was Carole Danvers in 1977.
Her character left Ms Marvel Moniker in 2010 and became known as Captain Marvel in 2012. She is shown in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Brie Larson.
Image copyright Marvel Image caption Brie Larson played Captain Marvel in the last Avengers movie
This opened the door for a new character to become Ms Marvel.
In 2014, readers were introduced to Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani-American who grew up in Jersey City. She has shape-shifting skills and happens to be an Avengers fan-girl.
Making history along the way, she became the first Marvel Muslim character to lead her own comic book series.
Muslim characters in video games have appeared in significant roles in recent years, so this is far from the first time that you can play a Muslim character.
Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, an offshoot of the best-selling franchise, made us play as Arbaaz Mir, a Kashmir killer.
The fighting game franchise Tekken 7 recently introduced a Saudi Arabian character named Shaheen as the last entry on its list.
And Street Fighter V saw the inclusion of Rashid, another character from the Middle East heritage.
Image copyright @Harada_TEKKEN Image caption Tekken 7 introduced its first Muslim character, Shaheen, to its list
However, some character designs for Muslims can be stereotyped and not reflect much of the average young Muslim, according to Sitara Shefta, head of studio at No Brakes Games.
Sitara believes that Marvel is much more representative of what young Muslims are like and says that the character Kamala Khan reminds her of her own niece.
Image copyright Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images Image caption Marvel editor and director Sana Amanat co-created Kamala Khan in 2014
She says the significance of including Kamala Khan in the game is a big step towards better representation in games.
“It’s very important, why shouldn’t Pakistanis and Muslims have characters and stories that inspire them?” she asks.
“They are often portrayed as terrorists or the villains we fight in games.
“Now we have a strengthening Pakistani Muslim character and a role model for the children in this community to be inspired by.”
The video game will feature an original story inspired by comics, but it does not align with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Image copyright Marvel Image caption The video game will be released later this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC
Scott Amos, studio head of the game’s developer Crystal Dynamics, said he was impressed with the response to Kamala Khan’s inclusion.
“One post that really got us was about how this longtime player said how exciting it made him – and how important it is to have a leading hero in this game right now, so that generations of new players can see and play like someone in them. a game full of these iconic giants like Thor, Iron Man and Black Widow, “he told the BBC Asian Network.
When the trailer was revealed at E3 2019, some announced on social media that the the characters in the game didn’t look like the actors who were playing them in the movies.
Marvel is yet to be portrayed in live action films, so it has not been affected by these criticisms, however, Marvel Studios must center a Disney + TV series around the character, which will be broadcast in 2022.