As Iman Vellani has gone from fan to star in Ms Marvel, Marvel’s newest superhero, she opens up about her similarities with the character and why this role means so much to her.
You’re 19 and your first acting gig is leading a Marvel series. Have you had time to stop and think about that?
I try to do that every day but it doesn’t work. I don’t know how to even begin processing it.
My entire life before this was just Marvel: I love the Avengers, the comic books, Ms Marvel… I wrote an English essay on female superheroes in the MCU!
Are you ready to be an icon?
It is a lot when I think about it – I wish that I had a show like this when I was growing up because I didn’t even realise representation was something I was missing until I read the Ms Marvel comics.
Those stories about a Muslim superhero meant the world to me, they held up a mirror because they were so relatable. I felt that I lived Kamala Khan’s life.
Well, even though she’s a Jersey City girl and I grew up in Canada, she’s obsessed with the MCU like me. We both got to be superheroes without any expectations of that.
I also have an older brother, my parents are super overprotective in the sweetest way, and Kamala grew up a little disconnected from her Pakistani culture like me. Her superhero journey reconnected her with her roots and that was similar for me.
Did you have a similar school experience to Kamala?
Absolutely – the core of the show is really the high school. We talked a lot about my favourite teachers, favourite subjects and the guys I had crushes on, and tried to work aspects of that into the show.
Both of us have gone on a journey of self-discovery, figuring out where we fit into the world, because teenage life is corny and cringey.
It’s okay to be clumsy and messy and be a good human – you don’t have to have it all figured out. That’s the ultimate theme in Kamala’s comics.
Kamala gets her powers from a magic bangle.
Yeah, I probably would never put that thing on. Big jewellery is not my style at all!
Have you ever done Ms Marvel cosplay?
Oh yeah, I made a Ms Marvel cosplay with my grandma when I was 15. It’s still in my closet.
Did you do fight training?
Yeah, my stunt double and I wanted to separate Kamala from the rest of the Avengers because she’s not a fighter.
She’s probably copying everything else she’s seeing so we used a lot of the classic Black Widow and Captain Marvel poses.
Has Brie Larson been in touch?
Yeah, she reached out to me a couple days after I got the part. She told me how much her life has changed, even though she was such an established actor.
The amount of attention and exposure that she got from being in the Marvel universe just turned her life around – it’s incomparable to anything else in Hollywood, so hearing what she does to keep her cool has been invaluable.
What’s next? Are you looking beyond Marvel?
Not quite – my entire brain is Ms Marvel at the moment, but that’s okay. I used to dream about doing this, and now it’s real!
Ms Marvel is available to watch on Disney Plus with new episodes released on Wednesdays.