Ms. Marvel: Kevin Feige, Iman Vellani Press Conference Recap

On Friday afternoon, the cast and crew of Ms. Marvel assembled for a virtual press conference ahead of the series premiere. This called for Ms. Marvel herself Iman Vellani, along with co-stars Rish Shah, Yasmeen Fletcher, Matt Lintz, Mohan Kapur, Zenobia Shroff, and Saagar Shaikh to come together with Sana Amanat (producer and writer), Meera Menon (director of episodes two and three), Adil el Arbi and Bilall fallah (executive producers and directors of episode one and two), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (director of episodes four and five), and executive producer Kevin Feige. The press conference began after 1pm ET. A full recap follows!

“This is all very, very trippy,” Amanat said. ‘When Wilow and I were crafting this comic years ago, we were like this is not gonna get past issue 9! No one is gonna care! Low and behold, Kevin Feige cared…I think what I love about it the most is it had people from different backgrounds, people who had never really read comics before showing up in comic shops…A few years later, when Kevin let us know that he wanted to make this into a show, I was thrilled. I also feel like it’s perfect for a series, a live-action series.”

Feige opens up about Marvel Studios moving forward with the Ms. Marvel series. “Marvel, it’s such a privilege, because not only are there reinterpretations every few years of existing characters but every once in a while, a new character comes around that catches audiences attention…This character did that…Almost from the first few issues…people started asking, when is Kamala Khan coming? When is Ms. Marvel coming?” He credits Disney+ for the opportunity to tell her full story in a series before transitioning into a feature. “I’m so proud of bringing new characters to the screen,” he said. “I think that’s important. I want people who never even considered watching Marvel Studios production before to watch this and enjoy it, and then go watch all the other ones!”

Vellani thought the casting call was a scam. “I did it. I sent out a very academic resume,” she said. “I knew exactly which comic books they pulled them from!” She thought she couldn’t do it. “At 3am, I sent in my self tape. I was like, my 10-year-old self is going to hate me if I don’t try.” A few days later, they called and asked to fly her to LA. She fan-girled over meeting all of the executive producers. The pandemic slowed things down before June 2020 came around with a self-tape and screen test over Zoom and she got the part on her last day of high school.

Ali opens up about developing Kamala for a TV series. “Every single person involved in this project love those comics,” Ali said. Changing the powers was “a group decision” impacted by “how she is going to fit into the MCU.” She wanted to “stay true to this beautiful incredible character” seen in publishing.

Kapur is asked about representing the southeastern Asian community and Muslim community. “I don’t think this series is shouting from the the rooftops saying, ‘Watch me about representation,'” he said. “I think it’s a fabulous op because we suddenly say, ‘This is the Marvel universe telling a story about us.'” He shared stories about cultural experiences that get featured in the series. “They’re just so beautiful…That side of the world, they just can’t wait to see this happen. This is us. This is us! The fact that if Marvel can run this juggernaut, it’s a big thing for the rest of the world. If they could do it, they knew what they’re talking about it, let us do it!” He says this is not a political statement but a story of a family and one girl. “It’s the story of a family that’s in a land that’s not their own,” but they’ve made it their own, he points out.

Shaikh opens up authentic elements about culture being featured in the series. “It was weird only because I feel it’s not what any of us are used to,” he said. “We’re used to having to explain a lot of things and have to fight to change a word or say something that’s a little deeper of a cut just to get that reference out there. but with this show, everybody was on the same page. Everybody got it.” He says it is not the show’s responsibility to teach you what certain words mean but viewers can turn to Google if they want to understand more. “Everybody working on this show was muslim or south Asian,” he points out. “We all got the references.”

Lintz discusses walking into the shoot and playing the boy genius in a set immersed with so much culture that he hadn’t experienced. “There are certain scenes where eI was able to see the culture and how diverse and rich it is…even the clothes,” he points out. “I’ve learned so much from all these beautiful people. Being able to call them my friends and cast mates is something I’ll be forever grateful for.”

Fallah and Arbi discuss this being a “little less violent” than some of their other work. They wanted to go straight from Bad Boys for Life to Marvel and they did. “We fell in love with Kamala Khan,” Arbi said.

Feige points out that Bad Boys 3 was the “biggest movie” of 2020. “Their name came up,” Feige said, and they knew they could do anything they wanted at Marvel Studios.

Fallah discusses being on set. “It was a true honor to be part of the MCU,” he said. “We were like really kids on the set and the producers were like, ‘Come here and direct!'” Amanat jokes about dragging them back to the cameras and how silly the energy was during the AvengersCon sets.

Obaid-Chinoy explains that she wanted to make the culture look as cool as it is. She wanted people watching it to relate to the moments within the family. Anyone watching could see a reflection of themselves. “I always believe that everyone has a super hero in them, they just have to activate it,” she says. “Telling this story is going to change so much for so many people. I have two young girls that when they see Kamala Khan they will know they can be a super hero.”

Shroff and Shaikh discuss how varying generations of southeast Asian culture worked together and understood each other. Natural levels of chemistry and pride came up between them.

Menon opens up about breaking stereotypes with Kamala. “The power of that reflection…that is everything,” she said. “It’s the whole if you can see it, you can be it thing. That is incredibly powerful.”

Will AvengersCon become a reality? “We were talking about that on the set,” Feige said. The production was during the pandemic so it had been a while since anybody had the opportunity to attend a convention. “It was very cathartic for all of us to see that and we were shooting Spider-Man: No Way Home on the stage right next door, the scene with the three Spideys. The crew from that movie kept sneaking over to see [AvengersCon]. I think that might be fun to do sometime. Yes.” Ali shares that there is a draft of a pitch to make AvengersCon real.

Fallah shares that “Tom Holland came to see AvengersCon,” before it was finished. Everybody had a great time on the set.

What sets Ms. Marvel apart from other heroes? “I think Ms. Marvel always understand fan culture on a cellular level,” Vellani said. “She’s also a fan of every other hero in the MCU…that passion and excitement is shared with every other Marvel fan. She reacts how we would when she gets powered…Culture and religion were never the main thing of her personality. It’s just part of her life…It’s just a normal thing. We didn’t want to make the show about a Pakistani-Muslim. It’s about this avengers-loving fan dork who just happens to be a Pakistani-Muslim!”

Fallah and Arbi tease the series getting darker as it goes. Obaid-Chinoy opens up about the joruney as it continues. “In searching her identity, Kamala Kahn is going to go on this journey to reconnect with her family, to understand why it’s so important for her to tell her own story, to craft that story, and to feel that she can be that super hero she always wanted to be execpt that it will be her being the super hero instead of emulating someone else,” Obaid-Chinoy said. The journey is going to be, “the thrill of our lives.”

Feige opens up about the Marvel Studios logo promising a spirit, style, vibe, and emotion instead of the same type of characters and genre. “I like very much that people say, ‘They’re all different,'” he concludes.

Vellani is asked what other super power she would take if she could. “Professor X,” she says. “I would love to get inside people’s minds.” Amanat then concludes the conference by sharing that she hopes the audiences will feel joyous while watching and celebrating people, culture, and more.


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