After announcing the show over a year ago, Marvel has finally cast the lead for its upcoming Ms. Marvel series for Disney+. Newcomer Iman Vellani secured the coveted role and will be under the direction of Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. Via Deadline:
Ms. Marvel first appeared in 2014 as Marvel’s first Muslim character to star in her own title, and she will become Marvel Studios’ first onscreen Muslim hero. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has said that in addition to appearing on the small screen, Kamala Khan will be included in future Marvel films.
Vellani’s casting sparked an emotional response from Marvel’s Eternals actor Kumail Nanjiani who tweeted that he got “teary-eyed” after reading the news. “Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included,” Nanjiani wrote.
I just saw they cast Ms. Marvel and legit got teary eyed.
Congratulations Iman Vellani! Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included. I can’t wait.
— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) September 30, 2020
Nanjiani has been a vocal supporter of seeing more diversity in superhero movies. Back in May, he revealed to a Variety virtual panel that he once turned down a role in a major comic book film after being asked to play up his accent. “So there was a really, really big movie, actually, that I auditioned for, and I was a taxi driver, and the director was like, ‘Hey, could you play up the accent a little bit?’ And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t.’” Nanjiani said. “And then the guy felt really bad.”
Nanjiani has also opened up about his risky gamble of turning down small Marvel roles until he was offered a chance to be an actual superhero, which finally happened with Eternals. After landing the part of Kingo, Nanjiani immediately got to work transforming his body because he knew how important this role would be for representation. “I’m playing the first South Asian superhero in a Marvel movie,” Nanjiani said. “I don’t want to be the schlubby brown guy—I want to look like someone who can hang with Thor and Captain America.”