Marvel currently has a slew of television series across a multitude of platforms. In addition to standard television outputs such as ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., FX's Legion and the highly-anticipated Inhumans event series, Marvel TV is probably best known for its growing slate of Netflix shows such as the upcoming Iron Fist.
And with two of Marvel's upcoming shows - Inhumans and an untitled X-Men pilot - releasing casting announcements over the past few days, Marvel TV is in the pop culture zeitgeist. But, as one director pointed out today, the company is missing out on one major, and incredibly culturally relevant, opportunity.
Oscar-nominated director Lexi Alexander, who has established a cult following with her films such as Green Street Hooligans and Punisher: War Zone, took to Twitter earlier today to express exactly what she believes Marvel is currently lacking. The Arab-German director has recently switched to television, stepping in to direct episodes of Supergirl, Arrow, and the upcoming Taken television series.
According to Alexander, what Marvel TV needs to be focusing on right now is a series starring Kamala Khan, also known as Ms. Marvel.
The fact that there is no Kamala Khan show being fast tracked into production is purely political.— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) March 2, 2017
For the uninitiated, Kamala is a Muslim-American teenager, who is accidentally bestowed with inhuman powers after exposure to a Terrigen bomb. Inspired by her superhero idols - particularly Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel - Kamala becomes the hero of her neighborhood in Jersey City, before eventually becoming an Avenger herself.
The character, created by G. Willow Wilson, Sana Amanat, and Stephen Wacker, has been a smash hit since her 2014 debut, with her premiere issue earning a rare seventh reprinting. Kamala was embraced by Marvel fans, both for her similarities to the real-life Marvel fandom (as she herself writes fanfiction about superheroes), and for the positive representation of Muslim-Americans that her series has been able to bring to the forefront.
What Alexander is essentially hinting at at her tweet, in not so many words, is that the political affiliation of Marvel's CEO, Ike Perlmutter, might be standing in the way of Ms. Marvel getting a live-action interpretation. The reclusive CEO has gone under fire in the past for misogynistic comments about female superheroes, and has raised eyebrows in recently months for being financially involved with Donald Trump's presidential administration. While it has been rumored that Marvel Studios's president, Kevin Feige, has taken over some of Perlmutter's creative control in recent years, Perlmutter is still very much associated with Marvel. This is why, as Alexander believes, his personal political views would conflict with the development of a Ms. Marvel television series.
A few minutes later, Alexander stood by her claim, essentially saying that the Marvel shows currently in production pale in comparison in terms of social relevance and importance.
We shouldn't be talking about any other Marvel character right now. You know I'm right. Don't @ me.— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) March 2, 2017
Given recent political issues, such as the Muslim-focused travel ban and hate crimes against Muslim-Americans, Alexander's point is definitely valid. With the representation of Muslims in mainstream media continuing to be fairly one-dimensional, a complex and relatable lead character like Kamala would help reinforce positive stereotypes.
In addition, a Ms. Marvel television series would help educate viewers on Muslim culture, keeping in line with the storytelling in the comic series.
The idea of a live-action Ms. Marvel has been suggested essentially ever since her smash debut. Some have excused Marvel's reluctance to adapt the comic right away as wanting to keep Kamala's origin story in place. In the comics, she is a fan of the already long-established Captain Marvel, and actually shapeshifts into her after initially getting her powers. With the Brie Larson-led Captain Marvel film still in the early days of pre-production, that logic would mean that fans would have to wait quite some time to see Kamala onscreen.
Of course, Marvel could easily adapt Kamala's origin to fit the current state of the MCU, something the company has certainly done with other characters in the past. With the ever-growing fandom around her character, and the poignant political relevance of her story, it is a no-brainer that Kamala should make her live action MCU debut sooner rather than later.
Alexander's tweets aren't necessarily an indication that she would lead a Ms. Marvel television series if it actually became a reality, but her desire for the series to exist in the first place is definitely worth noting. It's safe to say that there are a myriad of Marvel fans who would agree with Alexander.