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Ms. Marvel’s Showrunner Bisha K. Ali On Preparing Kamala Khan For The Marvels

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest hero, Ms. Marvel, is making a serious impression thus far. The coming-of-age superhero show has earned major praise from critics thus far, with many especially singling out newcomer Iman Vellani’s performance as Kamala Khan. Of course, this is just the beginning of the teenage vigilante’s journey in the expansive universe, as she’s already slated to appear in The Marvels next year. Of course, there was plenty of work that had to be done before Vellani’s Kamala made her big-screen debut. And the Disney+ series’ showrunner (or head writer), Bisha K. Ali shed some light on how her team prepared the character for the upcoming film. 

Those who stay up on the inner workings of Marvel Studios know that there’s frequent collaboration between creatives whenever certain productions directly connect to one another. For instance, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo contributed to Ant-Man and the Wasp’s mid-credits scene, which tied into their own movie. More recently, I spoke with Bisha K. Ali on behalf of CinemaBlend during the Ms. Marvel press junket and asked if or how she and the team from The Marvels worked closely together. Though the writer and EP quickly revealed that she knows nothing about the film’s plot, she explained that it did help to shape her thinking as it pertained to Kamala’s journey:

I will tell you this, it’s absolutely true, I know absolutely nothing about what happens in that movie [laughs]. The one thing that I did know that everybody knew at the time was that this movie was happening, it's called The Marvels, it was gonna happen. And I knew that I was starting with my girl, Kamala. And day one, she’s a teenage girl in Jersey City, she doesn't have any powers. So I knew in the back of my head and the breaking of this character arc, I'm gonna get her from teenage girl [with] no powers to whatever the hell is happening in The Marvels, [by] the end of the show, right? So that was really clear and like, what that meant for me and my approach to that and certainly guidance in many ways by the team at Marvel, to kind of make sure I was in the right headspace, without telling you any spoilers.

So the writer had to introduce a completely new character to the MCU, tell her story and get her ready to team up with two other heroes in a film she knows nothing about. I mean, no big deal, right? Despite that, the TV boss seemingly took things in stride when it came to crafting Kamala Khan’s arc. She also further explained that she and her collaborators assisted the folks working on the feature film in a key way: 

I knew that I had to get her there, I need[ed] to get her match ready for whatever was going to happen next. … Timing wise, we were further along in the creative process than The Marvels were. And The Marvels, obviously, it's not just Kamala Khan in the Marvels there are other Marvels in that movie. So there are loads of other pieces that I have genuinely no idea what was going on… certainly I didn't know at the time. But creatively, by the time we had all of our scripts for the six episodes, those were available to them. Those were available for the team on The Marvels, so they had our scripts before they were even shot, they were reading them. So yeah, they were aware of what we were doing [with] Kamala’s background, her voice, how she carries herself and who she becomes by the end of our show.

Plot details on the Nia DaCosta-directed movie are scarce at the moment. All fans know is that the movie will see Ms. Marvel join forces with Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau. Samuel L. Jackson returns to the role of Nick Fury as well. DaCosta has been careful not to spoil anything, but she has teased an emotional story for the sequel. The Candyman filmmaker has also spoken about balancing screen time between the three heroines.

Given her track record, Nia DaCosta is sure to create something that aptly represents all three of her central protagonists. And now that we’ve gotten a taste of how Bisha K. Ali, Iman Vellani and co. have handled Kamala Khan, I really can’t wait to see her mix it up with the others in the MCU film. 

The Marvels soars into theaters on July 28, 2023 and is one of several Marvel movies dropping over the next year. And while you wait for it, be sure to stream new episodes of Ms. Marvel (opens in new tab) on Thursdays using your Disney+ subscription.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.