lady marvel star Iman Vellani, who cosplayed as the titular hero when she was youngernow he finds himself living his childhood dream.
“I’m constantly dreaming,” she tells TVLine. “It’s the one thing I’ve always wanted in life, and I have it now, and I don’t know what to do with myself.”
The Disney+ series follows Kamala Khan, an imaginative teenager obsessed with Captain Marvel who suddenly finds herself with superpowers. For Vellani, Kamala’s unexpected journey parallels her own.
“Kamala and I took a very similar journey,” explains the actress. “Her getting her powers and me getting this role definitely went hand in hand, and just the whole journey of self-discovery and identity and reconnecting with her roots. I experienced a lot and learned a lot just by filming the show.”
Ahead of the first episode, which airs this Wednesday, TVLine caught up with the cast and crew to discuss what to expect in upcoming episodes and what it meant to have a predominantly South Asian cast and crew on board.
On the representation of South Asia in lady marvel…
IMAN VELLANI (KAMALA KHAN / MS MARVEL) | I felt disconnected from my culture growing up. I was really dismissive about my Pakistani roots and being Muslim. I just didn’t think it was cool because I was so obsessed and passionate about American pop culture and Hollywood, and those two things never went hand in hand. I didn’t like the Bollywood movies I watched growing up, and I found it very embarrassing. And now here I am in Hollywood, working with a madman [number] of women and people of color and Muslims and South Asians, and they’re so in touch with their culture. It really made me appreciate that and see the beauty and see how these people are so cool, and they can be in touch with their culture, and they can have the best jobs in the world. I can do this too.
MEERA MENON (DIRECTOR) | I wasn’t prepared for how significant it would be to work with an entire cast from South Asia and tell a story that felt so similar to not just my story, but the story of so many people… really want to do – that’s something that I relate to, and I think that’s what most people can relate to… dealing with having a big, active imagination in a world that’s telling you that, “Well, that It’s not realistic.”
SANA AMANAT (WRITER/PRODUCER) | There was a shortcut to the way we were communicating. It was very easy. We can be very honest and frank with each other and say, “Does this make sense? Is this going to be controversial or not?” I think the shorthand is something that really helped make the whole process a lot smoother and a lot more fun, because we could put on some random South Asian songs that only a few of us knew about and we went in and we’re really excited. It certainly helped to have all these different voices bringing their own authentic experiences to the table.
On changing how Kamala’s powers appear in the series compared to the comics…
ADIL EL ARBI (PE/DIRECTOR) | Kevin [Feige] wanted to do an adaptation of the powers, not a literal translation of the comics, and the producers were also looking for their place in the broader MCU, connected to other movies and potentially other TV shows. In the script, it was only described as “hard light”, so we developed it together with the producers and the visual effects team. We really liked the comic’s powers, so we still wanted to have a reference to it. That’s why there’s a wide-handed version, but with that light effect you see in the pilot. You still have the body changing, which is also the story of teenagers whose bodies are changing. You have the same ideas as the comics. Perhaps there is a variant of Kamala Khan in the multiverse that has the exact same powers. Who knows?
MENON | In Episode 2, we played around with different ideas because we weren’t sure where we were going to end up. As Episode 2 is a lot about her figuring out, it felt like the right approach, that we were going to try a bunch of things, like having her throw her hand and do all sorts of different gestures in different directions and trip over things and hit her. Bruno’s face with this… trying all these different things just to collect material with which to tell that story of a girl trying to figure this out, because we were trying to figure it out.
On Kamala’s relationship with her family…
MOHAN KAPUR (YUSUF KHAN) | [Yusuf] it’s all for anything she wants. Muneeba is the one who puts father and daughter on the right path. He adores his family, and especially Kamala because she is the second child that happened after a very long break – Aamir being the first. [child].
ZENOBIA SHROFF (MUNEEBA KHAN) | I think [Muneeba is] protecting her from many things. She’s protecting you from herself. Muneeba thinks she’s too much in this fantasy world, but then she’s protecting her from other things I can’t tell you.
SAAGAR SHAIKH (AAMIR KHAN) | Kamala is definitely much smarter than Aamir, but Aamir doesn’t believe that. Aamir thinks, “Hey, I’m older, so I’m smarter.” He’s a lot more distant, and Kamala is very sharp, so she knows how to play him. She knows how to tell him something, and she knows what he’s going to believe. he cares about her [and] wants to protect her, but she doesn’t need protection. She’ll let him believe she’s doing her job as she walks out the back door and does what she wanted to do.
On Kamala’s relationship with her friends…
YASMEEN FLETCHER (NAKIA) | Being able to play such a strong and vocal character [like Nakia] who is opinionated, not afraid to say that and being sarcastic and snooping around with her friends and just making sure who she is is so important for Kamala to see on her journey and feel more comfortable with herself. But also, I hope, that many young viewers will see such a young girl feel strong and secure in herself and confident and the way she presents herself. [It’s] really an honor, but it’s extremely important and something I wish I had watched growing up.
MATT LINTZ (BRUNO) | [Bruno is] a genius: very smart, high IQ, and he lives at the top of the Q Circle. He has his little place. It’s not the prettiest place. He has a rollaway bed with pillows that are probably not the softest, but he has a bench where he’s working on things. He’s an inventor. He loves doing that kind of thing and anything to help the people he loves.
RISH SHAH (KAMRAN) | He’s definitely the new kid in town and immediately shakes off all the dynamics and relationships that [Kamala] already has. With Bruno, for example, when she should be focusing on her training, and he arrives and gets along well with Kamala. They can relate on a level that she hasn’t had before with other people when it comes to sharing her culture and being able to exchange codes with him and talk about Bollywood movies… There’s mystery to him. We’ll have to wait and see where it goes from there.
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