Ms Marvel Showrunner Addresses Orientalism Backlash About MCU Series

One aspect of Ms. Marvel that has been a constant source of praise has been the show’s view of its Pakistani-American central character and the Pakistani community. However, there have also been a number of concerns raised about the introduction of Djinns in the Marvel story and its possible Orientalism connotations. However, showrunner Bisha K. Ali recently discussed the inclusion of Djinns in Ms. Marvel with Inverse, and explained how avoiding avoid tropes was always in her mind while working on the show. She said:

“Of course. That’s the thing that’s so hard. Because of Orientalist tropes, we are limited in our storytelling because of what people who aren’t us have done. This is the double-edged sword of a show like this. But if anyone should get a chance to “mess it up,” it should be us.

These elements are minefields. We have to be careful. But we get to tell a story from our community because we are writers from that community. I believe nothing should be off limits to us because we’re approaching it with respect and honor. Maybe we should have gone into detail, but in Episode 4, Walid tells her, “If Thor turned up, we’d call him Djinn.” That’s how we speak.

When I think about Kamala’s journey, she doesn’t see her powers as a gift. They bring law enforcement to the masjid. They smash up her brother’s wedding. They make her feel like she doesn’t know how to balance her life and negative consequences happen. Her arc in the story is about how you have to be careful what you dream of.”

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Oriental Stereotypes Have Been a Longstanding Issue in Hollywood Movies

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There have been many debates about the representation of certain cultures in movies, and Marvel has already trodden the path with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Having previously come under fire for the inclusion of Ben Kingsley as Iron Man 3’s The Mandarin, Marvel Studios managed to steer clear of too much controversy with last year’s release, which did see the return of Ben Kingsley, but also revealed the real Mandarin, which resolved the issue for many.

With Ms. Marvel, the inclusion of Djinns has created a number of issues that have been raised vocally on social media, with some Muslim fans claiming that the worshipping of Djinns is a violation of the Quran, and Kamala’s Djinn heritage is wrong. However, the team behind the show have previously addressed those comments and stated their case for giving Kamala the backstory that she has in the MCU. In all, Ms. Marvel has proven that even when incorporating writing and directing teams who are part of the culture being depicted in a show or movie, there is still room for backlash.

Moon Knight is another recent addition to the Marvel Universe, and its portrayal of Egypt and Egyptian culture managed to avoid any big controversies. While both series are available in their entirety on Disney+ for fans to watch, it is probably not the last issue linked to this subject that Marvel will have to face in the future.