For years, comic book characters reflected their creators, they were predominantly white males. A more diverse group of writers and executives is taking over now, and the industry reflects that. Last year, DC Comics revealed Simon Baz, an Arab-American Green Lantern. DC’s chief creative officer, Geoff Johns, is Lebanese-American and helped usher in this change to GL’s status quo.
Marvel Comics is reviving theMs. Marvel character as Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenager from Jersey City. According to the New York Times, Sana Amanat, an editor at Marvel, was sharing experiences from her childhood, growing up Muslim-American. Editor Steve Wacker talked about it with her and they realized there were millions of teenagers out there going through similar experiences. A new Ms. Marvel was born.
Carol Danvers was the previous Ms. Marvel and young Kamala idolizes her. When the teen discovers her own powers, she takes Danvers’ former identity as a tribute. Amanat told the Times when she was younger, she wanted to be Tiffani Amber-Thiessen from Saved By the Bell. Kamala will undergo struggles of identity and belonging, in addition to battling mad scientists and shadow organizations from alien worlds.
If the stories are good, people will respond no matter what the character’s background is. Before Iron Man and The Avengers put Marvel’s movie universe on the map, little-known character Blade was an unexpected hit for them. Wesley Snipes played the vampire hunter in three movies, gaining enough popularity for a short-lived TV spinoff starring rapper Sticky Fingaz.
Marvel has a whole slate of offerings on the way with non-traditional lead chracters. She-Hulk and Elektra will get their own books in 2014. Current book Mighty Avengers includes several minority characters such as Luke Cage, White Tiger and Falcon. Rumors have Blade joining the team soon as well.
In Marvel’s film universe, Tony Stark’s best friend Jim Rhodes has donned armor to fight at his side, just as they did in the books. Captain America: The Winter Soldier will introduce Falcon to Marvel’s cinematic world, and the character currently appears on Disney XD’s Avengers Assemble.
As a kid, I had to search pretty hard to find superheroes that looked like me. My children will grow up in a different era, and I couldn’t be happier.
Read [New York Times]