The "Embiggening": Marvel's Muslim Ms. Marvel and American Myth

Resha, Adrienne, Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Al-Samman, Hanadi, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Virginia
Dave, Shilpa, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia

Kamala Khan is a new kind of superhero. She is Marvel’s first Muslim-American superhero to hold her own title as Ms. Marvel and the Ms. Marvel series has succeeded despite Kamala being, by almost every definition of the word, a minority figure: female, teenaged, Pakistani-American, and Muslim. In most of these ways she is different from her superheroic predecessors; however, her association with an Abrahamic faith aligns her with characters like DC’s Superman and Marvel’s Spider-Man. Superman and Spider-Man are icons in American myth and embody, for many, religious narratives from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Observing the history of the American tradition of superhero comics, starting in the 1930s and continuing up until the present, this research addresses the ways in which Kamala Khan fits within this canon of American popular myth and the ways in which she deviates from the norm. Focusing on Kamala Khan’s origin story, this research hopes to answer the question of how the medium of comics can be used to incorporate the Islamic tradition and culture into American popular culture. Kamala Khan is not just a new kind of superhero; she is also a new kind of American mythic icon: an archetype for a Muslim-American in a post-9/11 America.

MA (Master of Arts)
Islamic studies, American myth, American popular culture, Ms. Marvel, Islam, Kamala Khan, comics, Marvel
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