Mohan Kapur, Zenobia Shroff, And Saagar Shaikh On The Importance Of Ms. Marvel's Muslim Representation - Exclusive

It's rare for superhero shows and movies to give viewers a glimpse into underrepresented cultures, but "Ms. Marvel" is filling that void. The series centers around the MCU's first Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan, played by Iman Vellani. Along with Kamala's teenage antics, "Ms. Marvel" also shines a light on her culture and family life with her mom, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff), her father, Yusuf (Mohan Kapur), and her brother, Aamir (Saagar Shaikh).

Plenty of naysayers immediately criticized the show before the first episode even debuted, highlighting the desperate need for more TV shows and movies to bring more representation to religions outside of Christianity — and unfortunately also bringing to light how many people are personally offended that their way of life isn't the only one that exists in the world. "Ms. Marvel" has taken great care to feature the Muslim community at all ends of this production, and hopefully, the more content we produce with broader representation, the fewer people will object to media more closely reflecting the diverse world we live in.

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Shroff, Kapur, and Shaikh discussed the Muslim representation in "Ms. Marvel," why it's so essential to spotlight different voices, and how normalizing various cultures can help combat dangerous stereotypes.

Fighting Muslim prejudice through representation

We asked the Khan family actors about the Muslim culture that we see in the series and how it might be a teachable moment for people who only want to see their own experiences, and Zenobia Shroff said, "That's a really good question. No one's put it that way." 

Saagar Shaikh jumped in, saying, "It's important because it normalizes an otherwise unseen experience, and there are a lot of us out there that haven't seen something like that — that represents what they go through on a day-to-day — on screen. It's really going to pull at people's heartstrings who haven't had the pleasure of having those notes plucked at before."

It's no secret that the Western world has a habit of making baseless and dangerous assumptions about the Muslim community that often spurs on violence and hatred, putting countless lives at risk. Shroff is hoping that shows like "Ms. Marvel" can combat those damaging stereotypes. "In the rich history of, unfortunately, Muslim bias in this country, the second part of your question about what you think it'll do for their experience ... I hope that they watch it and they see, 'Oh, this is [a] family like mine. They bicker. They love each other. They get up in the morning. They brush their teeth. They fail driving tests. They eat dinner together,'" she said. "I hope that they realize that ... as an experience, our human experience is more common than it's different."

Mohan Kapur agreed, adding, "It's a slice of life from a community that's one-fourth [of] the world's population, and it's very rich and diverse. In a very beautiful and simple way, one has ... sprinkled along in the episodes various facets of their life [and] their culture. It's very heartening to know that a studio like Marvel would give credence to something like this and to this community."

New episodes of "Ms. Marvel" stream Wednesdays on Disney+.