Kamala Khan is your average teenage girl. She has best friends, crushes on boys, run-ins with the popular girls and has an over-protective family.
She is also a superhero. She has the ability to make herself larger or smaller and has modeled her identity after her own hero, Captain Marvel. Schoolwork by day, superhero by night. Not exactly average, but this isn’t what makes Kamala Khan unique.
Kamala is a first-generation daughter of Pakistani-Muslim immigrant parents.
Now imagine being your average teenager superhero who can’t eat hot-dogs. Imagine parents that are not only overly protective, but unfamiliar with the looser customs of New Jersey, USA. And how exactly do you deal with your superhero outfit showing too much skin? Kamala juggles the hurdles of each of these worlds – not always successful, but never giving up.
Much like Miles Morales (black, hispanic – “Spiderman”), Carolina Dean (lesbian – “Runaways”), Wiccan and Hulking (gay – “Young Avengers”), who fall into minority groups, Kamala Khan and the “Ms. Marvel” title resonate with teens who are themselves children of immigrant muslim parents.
It’s important for us all to be able to dream of being superheroes. Being a superhero means bringing out the best in ourselves. Sure, heros fly, shape change, spin webs, cast magic spells, but in the end, heros win over adversary, capture the bad-guys and save the day. And that ability exists in us all, not just white men and women, but kids, hispanics, blacks, gay and lesbian, and yes, muslims.
And no, we will never turn into a green hulk or become a demigod, but imagining ourselves as these heroes adds to our understanding of what it’s like to be someone, something else.
So let’s imagine ourselves as something beyond the Man of Steel or the Batman. Let’s imagine ourselves as the black-hispanic-teenage web-slinger, the lesbian alien, the gay warlock and his hulk-like boyfriend, and yes, let’s imagine ourselves as the muslim Ms. Marvel. Because as soon as we do, we will realize that these differences may not be typical, but they are just part of being human.