×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Ms. Marvel voice actress on what the character has meant to her - Exclusive

If you've been anywhere near a movie theater over the past decade, you'll recognize the stars of Marvel's Avengers, the new video game from Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics. Since making the jump from comic book pages to the big screen, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, and Black Widow have become legitimate superstars. As far as the entertainment industry is concerned, no one's bigger.

Ms. Marvel is different. While the rest of the Avengers line-up has been around for decades, young Kamala Khan made her comic book debut in 2013. Unlike her peers, she has yet to appear in a live-action project (although a Disney+ series is allegedly on its way), meaning that the upcoming game (and its beta, which runs throughout August) will be the first time that many superhero fans will meet her.

So, who is she? What makes her tick? Actress Sandra Saad, who plays Ms. Marvel in Marvel's Avengers, puts it like this:

"Like me, and I'm sure like you as well, she's a huge Avengers fan," Saad tells Looper. "She knows the Avengers' strengths, their weaknesses. She knows everything about them. She writes Avengers fanfic... I could tell right away that she had internal conflict, that she was spunky, and that she was a good person."

That tracks pretty closely with Ms. Marvel's canonical origin story, which was written by G. Willow Wilson and drawn by Adrian Alphona. In the comics, young Kamala is a die-hard Avengers fan whose long-dormant Inhuman genes give her the ability to change shape and size. Inspired by her favorite hero, Kamala adopts the superhero identity Ms. Marvel — Carol Danvers, who originated the name, isn't using it any more — and begins fighting crime on the streets of Jersey City.

Kamala has quickly become one of Marvel's most popular characters, and Saad thinks she knows why. "She's super relatable," Saad says. "We can all see parts of ourselves in a 16-year-old fangirl with an internal struggle of like, 'Do I be myself, or is that weird?' We can all relate to that."

In the video game, Kamala undertakes the monumental task of re-assembling the Avengers after the events of A-Day, a catastrophe that has rocked the city of San Francisco, forcing the superteam to disband. According to Saad, there's no one better suited for the job.

"I feel like every time I read a new comic book or every time I have a new script, I learn a new thing about her, but I admire Kamala's hope and her perseverance," Saad says. "This is a girl who has every reason not to do the amazing things that she does in the game, but she does them anyway, because she loves the Avengers and she's not a quitter."

How Sandra Saad's childhood informed her performance as Ms. Marvel in Marvel's Avengers

Ms. Marvel is an important character for a number of reasons, but chief among them is that she's the first Muslim superhero to headline a book at Marvel. Editor Sana Amanat drew on her own experiences as a Muslim teen growing up in a mostly-white New Jersey suburb while co-creating Kamala, who, like Amanat, was raised by Pakistani immigrants.

It's a story that Saad, who is also a first-generation American, can relate to. "I have a lot of the same internal struggles," Saad says. "Growing up, you don't exactly feel at home at home. You don't exactly feel at home at school. The things that my American friends liked, I was like, 'I don't get this.' When I went back home to where my family's from, I was like, 'I don't get any of this either.'"

In Kamala, Saad found a kindred spirit. "I read the comics, and there's this one arc where she goes back home to where her family's from, and she has that struggle too. I related to it so hard," she says. "It's hard to find people who will completely accept you for all of the things that make you different, and you live so much of your life being like, 'Okay, am I weird or am I not?' Or like, 'What exactly am I?'"

Over the course of Marvel's Avengers, Kamala confronts those insecurities head-on, and ultimately figures out where she belongs: with Cap, Thor, Natasha, and the rest. "When Kamala sees that her heroes accept her for who she is and encourage her to be who she is, it really means a lot to her, because they're not classmates or whatever, they're on another level," Saad says. "These are her heroes."

"I haven't met my Bruce Banner, but I understand that struggle that she has," Saad says, admitting that the personal connection helped her performance. "When you allow yourself to just be affected by those similarities, then you're easily moved."

Still, when you're playing Marvel's Avengers as Ms. Marvel, you probably shouldn't take things too seriously. "Have fun," Saad advises gamers, "because she's fun." And in a game like Avengers? That's what really matters.

Marvel's Avengers launches on September 4, 2020 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.