Ms. Marvel premieres June 8 on Disney +, and the MCU will never again be the same. Not only is Kamala Khan the first Muslim superhero Marvel has introduced, but she’s also probably the biggest fan of the franchise she’s entering. The Pakistani-American teenager, portrayed wonderfully by newcomer Iman Vellani, spends her days dreams about the Avengers – much to her family’s chagrin.
In fact, Kamala’s family is a large component of her story as she comes into her powers. Before being allowed to suit up with Captain Marvel in 2023’s The Marvels, she must first gain the approval of her mother Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff) and the understanding of her father Yusuf (Mohan Kapur). But if her goals already did not clash with their desires for her future, the impending wedding of her brother Aamir (Saagar Shaikh) might be enough to distract them from her burgeoning abilities.
Screen Rant spoke to Kapur, Shaikh and Shroff, who showed off their cast chemistry by discussing how protective they are over costar Iman Vellani, describing how the Khan family dynamic is reflective of their own experiences with the South Asian diaspora, and revealing how Saagar snuck into Ms. Marvel‘s AvengerCon.
Screen Rant: What was your “I’m in the MCU” moment? Was there a moment on set where you were like, “This is real. This is happening?”
Saagar Shaikh: I think my first, “Oh sh-t. I’m in the MCU!” The moment was the first time I met Kevin Feige. And I was like, “This guy is standing right in front of me. This is Kevin Feige.” He’s like the Marvel God; he’s the one that makes everything happen, and he’s shaking my hand.
I was like, “Dude, you’re gonna be okay, man.”
Zenobia Shroff: That’s pretty [good]. I would say meeting Kevin was a big moment, yeah.
Mohan Kapur: I do not have a single moment. For me, every day, every moment – everything that I do around this franchise is a “What ?! This is real? This is how it goes down?” [moment].
It’s just amazement, amazement, amazement. There’s no other way to describe it. Whether it was the red carpet, whether it was the premiere, whether it is this – it’s just fantastical.
It must be so fun working with Iman, who kind of is a real-life Kamala Khan. She loves Marvel so much; she knows so much about it. Do you guys start to feel like a real family through that lens?
Mohan Kapur: Oh, yeah, totally. Totally.
Saagar Shaikh: Yeah! I mean, Iman is Kamala Khan. We’re watching Iman go through the same thing that we will watch Kamala Khan go through. And I feel like that’s my little sister, and I gotta protect her. I feel like I have the same energy towards Iman as Aamir goes towards Kamala.
Zenobia Shroff: But I also think that, for Muneeba at least, there’s this whole aspect of their child getting powers and [being] involved in this sort of fantasy world and all. But there’s also the push-pull of teenagehood: this kid is growing up, and there’s those normal things about, “No, you can not stay out late. No, you can not go with boys.” There’s that aspect of it as well.
And Iman is growing up. I mean, she’s only 19. So, me as Zenobia, I look on her as somebody who’s still just started her journey. I keep that in mind quite a bit also.
Kamala Khan’s family is very important to her story in the comics. How do you think that her family defines her as a hero in the show?
Zenobia Shroff: I think our family’s ethos is always, “Be good, do good.” And she’s struggling with that a lot. Because she’s doing things that her family – and particularly her mother – does not like. And I think that there is a great internal struggle there. “I want to do this, but Ammi won’t like it; Abbu won’t like it.”
She’s struggling a lot with those things, as any teenager would.
Saagar Shaikh: I think that is the plight of a child of immigrants, especially from the South Asian diaspora, where we’re growing up so different than our parents did. We’re just trying to do normal things; normal things that our friends in school are doing. Because our parents did not get to do that when they were younger, they do not know anything about it. And they want to protect us from what they do not know.
There’s that constant battle of, “I’ve got to figure out how to get around my parents to do this normal thing, but why should I have to do so much work just to do this normal thing? Why can’t I just do what all my friends are doing without having to jump through these hoops? “
Zenobia Shroff: Because your parents’ vision when they brought you here was not all those things. It was either [that] you be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, a computer guy, or you marry well. I think there’s a huge struggle, and Saagar probably experienced it growing up with it. There’s a big struggle.
Saagar Shaikh: I still do!
Zenobia Shroff: Yeah, I bet you do. And all my friends’ kids are going through it. My friends are still South Asian mothers, and the kid is wanting to go to Coachella and do pot. There’s just a big divide.
The question is: when AvengerCon becomes real, who are you all cosplaying as?
Mohan Kapur: I do not know if I could fit in, but Yusuf Khan would love to play Iron Man.
Saagar Shaikh: I haven’t told anybody this yet, but I did cosplay at AvengerCon in episode one. I did. I really wanted to be there, so I did background work that day and I put on an Iron Man box outfit. It was me and Rish. We did not tell anybody.
Can we see you in the episode?
Saagar Shaikh: Yeah, you can. We made the final cut. It’s the moment where Kamala and Bruno realize that Kamala left the gloves in the bathroom. There’s just a little Iron Man behind her and a Captain America right next to me. You heard it here first, folks!
Do not tell anyone else that story!
Zenobia Shroff: I was thinking of it when I watched it in the theater. I’m like, “I wonder which one is Saagar.” Because you told me that you’d done it.
Mohan Kapur: That’s the problem. The dad doesn’t know what the son’s up to.
Ms. Marvel Synopsis
A great student, an avid gamer and a voracious fan-fiction scribe, she has a special affinity for superheroes, particularly Captain Marvel. But Kamala struggles to fit in at home and at school — that is, until she gets super powers like the heroes she’s always looked up to. Life is easier with super powers, right?
Check out our interviews with Ms. Marvel star Iman Vellani as well as directors Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah.
Next: Ms. Marvel Stars Cameo in AvengersCon Scene as Iron Man & Captain America
Ms. Marvel premieres on Disney + June 8.
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