Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is an award-winning director, having taken home a couple of Academy Awards for her powerful work on documentaries. The pair of films, A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness and Saving Face, tell stories of women who are survivors of tragic and brutal stories but find their best ways to overcome and continue on, both set in Pakistan. Ms. Marvel is Obaid-Chinoy's first fictional endeavor and she infused Pakistan into the series, helming the first two episodes of the show that travel to Pakistan with Episodes 4 and 5. Speaking to ComicBook.com, Obaid-Chinoy opened up about infusing an authentic take on Pakistan in Ms. Marvel, all the while offering up classic Marvel Easter eggs along the way.
Ms. Marvel's fourth episode sees Kamala Khan travel back in time to the Partition of India. It is one of the most pivotal and difficult moments in the history of Kamala's family and is a real world event which impacted countless lives. "I've spent the better part of two decades actually collecting oral histories from 1947," Obaid-Chinoy said. "It is sort of a geeky sort of other part of my life that I am drawn to that history. Because it is a deeply traumatic time for millions and millions of people. One of the largest mass migrations the world has ever seen, yet it's very rarely visualized. So when you bring a superhero into that world, you have to bear witness to that history in the most authentic manner. And so when Kamala lands into partition and she walks onto that platform, I recreated every frame from a photograph from 1947. And so the things that you see on the platform with the way people are being carried, the way people are going... All of that is a recreation from a photograph from 1947."
Interestingly, history from our real world was being melded with the lore of the Marvel Cinematic Universe throughout obaid Chinoy's episode of Ms. Marvel. "All the stories in the MCU are so intrinsically related and linked," the director explained. "When we were filming the [Department of Damage Control] and we were filming sort of this wall that they had put up with all of the sort of people that they were going after and they were all drawn from different MCU properties." It makes you want to go take a second look at each detail of that Damage Control facility to see what clues about the rest of the MCU might be pinned to a board in th3ere.
"When we were in the DODC and sort of having the agents from Spider-Man," she added, referencing Arian Moeyad reprising his role as Agent Cleary from Spider-Man: No Way Home. "Even the murals that we have placed sort of all across our episodes, they harken back to some other property of Marvel. And that is what is so special about MCU. Its viewers come back to watch so that they can piece together the connections of things. I mean, episode three, the Ten Rings. There is so much interconnectedness. It's a good thing that Kamala is an MCU nerd because she in real life very quickly would be sort of providing the back commentary of everything that we were about to do. It was great."
While nods to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and namedrops of Kingo from Eternals are fun, Marvel's references are being outdone by the franchise's first representation of Pakistan. Ms. Marvel herself, a massive fan of the Avengers, has found herself enamored with the culture which her family hails from. "It was really important as her character development as she begins to understand who she and where her powers come from, that she goes back to her roots," Obaid-Chinoy said. "And her grandmother, I say she's a reflection of her grandmother. You see her bedroom, you see her grandmother's dusty room. Sort of the same quirkiness is there. When she lands in Pakistan and gets into that world, she begins to understand who she is. That is an important part of her character development."
Are you enjoying Ms. Marvel so far? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Twitter! Ms. Marvel releases new episodes every Wednesday on Disney+. The full interview with Obaid-Chinoy is available on the Phase Zero YouTube channel.
(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)