I try to guard myself against the “it’s newest so it’s the best EVER” reaction that often permeates fandoms. We can tend to live and breathe a movie or a show as soon as it premieres, reworking our rank lists to show how this is the best ever…until the next new movie or show in that universe comes out. I get the excitement. I often share it myself! But I’m always cautious about saying “best” when reflecting on a new movie or show. Yet it’s impossible to deny the sheer beauty and joy of Disney+’s Ms. Marvel show. Each episode fills my heart in a way nothing else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has. As far as I’m concerned, it is easily the most joyful entry in the MCU. I think it’s far and away the most important show Disney+ has done so far, too. And it may well be the best. We’ll see ;D. So I want to explore these emotions through the lens of how Kamala’s powers changed for the Disney+ show…in a way that’s far closer to her comic roots than I first realized.
Many Faces, One Symbol
On July 6th, Marvel announced that after the conclusion of Civil War II a young woman named Riri Williams will take over for Tony Stark as Iron Man. Fandom reacted as it always does. There was intrigue. There was optimism. There was excitement. Annnd there were the usual (tired) cries of it being a p.c.-driven agenda or proof that Marvel is out of ideas, echoed in the familiar refrain of, “I don’t mind a female/minority/etc. superhero…but why can’t they have their own identity??” But I’d like to argue if you think Spider-Man is simply Peter Parker, you’ve missed the entire point. Spider-Man represents so much more than Peter Parker. Spider-Man is a symbol, an ideal. The more people we see picking up that mantle, the more people we see embodying that symbol, the better. This is as true for Spider-Man as it is for Iron Man or any comic book superhero. Continue reading
Ms. Marvel: Faith, Family, and Fandom
It should go without saying that Islam is a beautiful religion, deserving of reverence and respect. Sadly and disturbingly, we live in a world where this still needs to be said. So in this age of increasing (and terrifying) intolerance, we need Kamala Khan. In this young Muslim, first generation Pakistani-American teenager who becomes the new Ms. Marvel, G. Willow Wilson has created the single most important hero of our age. This is the most overtly theological post I’ve done so far and, as such, it’s very personal. Exploring the intersection of the joy of comic books, living a life of faith, and teaching theology leads me to explore part of the very core of who I am. Continue reading