Punisher: War Zone director Lexi Alexander has never been a shrinking violet when it comes to calling out Hollywood biases and double standards. From the way female directors are passed over to the treatment of Muslims as shorthand for evil, Alexander has been on the front lines of pushing Hollywood to look internally at some of their long-held practices. Even if it’s cost her a few gigs.
So when Alexander took to Twitter on March 1st to deride Marvel’s lack of movement on adapting Kamala Khan — better known as Ms. Marvel — into a television show, it quickly became newsworthy. Would Lexi Alexander be pitching a show to Marvel? Was she in talks to direct? Why bring it up now?
The tweet blew up among on the superhero entertainment circuit, and by the evening Alexander had tweeted out clarification that the lack of a Ms. Marvel show was not a dig at a particular person (Ike Perlmutter) but indicative of a larger industry trend of “practic[ing] Orientalism while trying to be inclusive of Arabs and/or Muslims, which is frustrating.”
I reached out to Lexi find out why she thinks the time is nigh for a Ms. Marvel television show and why Hollywood is ignoring an obvious and simple way to be inclusive towards a minority group that has long been vilified in American culture.
“[Kamala Khan] is the only well known comic book heroine who is Muslim. It’s not really a character that I’m obsessed with nor do I think I’m the right director for it. I keep talking about her because [America] reeks of Islamophobia and she’s a teen Muslim girl who kicks ass. Here is something that liberal Hollywood could get behind, that could help change the narrative and on top of it, it’s a super popular character who will make people a lot of money. So at this point I find it offensive that nobody is producing a show or a movie about her yet. I’m starting to think that whoever is behind that is as Islamophobic as this country’s leadership.”
For those who don’t know, Ms. Marvel is a teenage superhero who lives in Jersey City who also happens to be Muslim. Created by Sana Amanat, G. Willow Wilson, Stephen Wacker, and Adrian Alphona, Kamala Khan is the first major Muslim hero to have her own Marvel comic series. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 was the best selling graphic novel of October 2014 and debuted at #2 on the New York Times paperback graphic books bestseller list. Subsequent volumes of the comic both debuted at number four. The series has also won a Hugo Award, two Eisner Awards, and two Harvey Awards. By any account, Ms. Marvel is one of the most popular breakout superheroes of the 21st century. With Marvel bringing so many lesser known (though longer tenured) heroes to the screen both big and small, not striking while the Kamala Khan iron is hot feels like leaving money on the table. As Alexander told me, “It’s a no-brainer.”