Kamala Khan may be a fangirl of Brie Larson's Captain Marvel, but Ms. Marvel star Iman Vellani is a super-fan of Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man. The Marvel Studios Original series is set shortly after the events of 2019's Avengers: Endgame, where Tony Stark sacrifices himself to save the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Thanos (Josh Brolin). In an interview with Marvel.com for Wednesday's Ms. Marvel Episode 4, "Seeing Red" — which partners Kamala with Pakistani hero Red Dagger (Aramis Knight) in her first superhero team-up — a "sad" Vellani lamented never getting to meet Downey's Iron Man on-screen.
"I think all of this started because I had a crush on Robert Downey Jr. [in Iron Man]," Vellani told Marvel.com with a laugh. "The movie's so good. Jon Favreau is such a wonderful director. I think when I was like 11 or 12 my Marvel obsession just heightened to the max, and I fully became obsessed with Iron Man and anything to do with Iron Man."
The first Marvel Studios movie, Iron Man launched the MCU when Downey debuted as the genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist in 2008.
Calling it her "comfort movie," Vellani said of Iron Man, "Whenever I was sad, I'd watch it. Whenever I was happy, I'd watch it. The first thing I did when I got cast was watch the movie. Every big moment in my life also includes Iron Man. Because I have that attachment to it, it means a lot to me even though you know, it's not like the greatest movie ever created, but to me it is."
Vellani's self-proclaimed Iron Man obsession includes "all the Invincible Iron Man comics I could get my hands on," and the Ms. Marvel comic books that teamed Kamala with Tony Stark.
"The 2016 run where Kamala is an Avenger, and she's fighting alongside Iron Man, and Iron Man's helping her with her physics homework and gets her gyros and fries, and they eat them together," she said. "He helps her when her dad gets sick in the comics. Their relationship is very, very wholesome."
Episodes of Ms. Marvel are peppered with Easter eggs and references to Earth's mighiest heroes, including Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Like the Easter egg-packed AvengerCon in Episode 1, Vellani's Iron Man fandom made its way into the show in Kamala's t-shirts and other memorabilia.
"I'm a huge, huge Iron Man fan. I know Kamala is more Captain Marvel, but I was very much asking for more Iron Man references in there," Vellani told SFX Magazine. "Like, 'I think she needs an Iron Man action figure, more Iron Man.' There was a point where we got to too much Iron Man, that was the note from Kevin [Feige, Marvel Studios president and producer]!"
Starring Iman Vellani, Aramis Knight, Saagar Shaikh, Rish Shah, Zenobia Shroff, Mohan Kapur, Matt Lintz, Yasmeen Fletcher, Laith Naki, Azher Usman, Travina Springer, and Nimra Bucha, new episodes of Ms. Marvel are streaming Wednesdays on Disney+.