Iman Vellani, the fangirl who became a Marvel superheroine

Iman Vellani, the fangirl who became a Marvel superheroine

A superheroine in teen mode! After Moon Knightand while waiting she hulk this summer, Miss Marvel lands on the Disney+ platform this Wednesday. 19-year-old Canadian actress Iman Vellani has been cast as Kamala Khan, an American teenager of Pakistani origin and Muslim faith who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with her parents and brother. This young girl, a little nerd, fan of Captain Marvel, struggles to find her place in high school. Her life will change when she discovers that she has her own superpowers…

This feel-good mini-series mixes the classic themes of teen shows (coming of age, family, integration, etc.) in a Marvel way. Cross portrait of Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan, who share many points in common.

Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan, two Marvel superfans

Even before being selected for the title role of Miss Marvel, Iman Vellani is a huge Marvel fan. “I grew up with the MCU. When I entered high school, he was in front of a comic book store. I used to spend all my pocket money buying comics, mostly Invincible Iron Man, but also old series from the 1980s. I fell in love with it! I felt like I was part of some sort of secret club. Few people really read comics. I spent a lot of time online, on forums like Reddit,” says Iman Vellani, with whom 20 minutes spoke during a round table by videoconference.

In the series, Kamala Khan, a little geek like her interpreter, attends a Marvel convention, giving a meta dimension to the miniseries. “It’s really cool to play around with that, especially as a fan of Marvel and all those heroes. I can share the love, enthusiasm and fascination for the Avengers with Kamala. I really hope that all the nerds and all the Marvel fandom watching the show can find that aspect of fan culture and relate to it. It’s a lot of work to be a fan: to know all the works, to be on the forums, in short, to get involved, ”comments Iman Vellani.

Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan, two young women from diversity

Kamala Khan isn’t the first Muslim Marvel heroine. Dust and Monet, two characters appearing in the X-Men preceded him. But when the comics came out in 2014, a Marvel series whose main heroine was a young Muslim teenager, it was something new! “Kamala Khan was my rock in high school. As a comic book reader, I was so excited to discover a character like her. I didn’t know she existed until I saw her on the cover of an Ironheart. I asked myself: “Who is this dark-skinned person?” And I fell for her, ”says Iman Vellani.

The 19-year-old actress, who was born and raised in Canada to Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents, recognized herself in Kamala’s “cultural journey”: “I feel much more connected to my roots, just like Kamala in the series. I find it wonderful to be able to share this with her. »

Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan, two high school girls today

“I read all of Miss Marvel in high school. It was so weird, Kevin Feige told me I got the part on my last day in high school. It was really surreal, ”says the actress. His recent experience on the benches of high school has fed the fiction. “Sometimes it’s hard to have older people writing shows for the younger generation because they’re a little out of touch,” she notes.

And to add: “Since I was just out of high school when I was cast, it was easy to pull things from my life and use a lot of my experience to make the character as realistic as possible. This collaboration was very nice. On the set, the directors also relied on the cast to bridge this gap. “They used us as resources. We discussed a lot. They wanted to know what kind of guys we had a crush on or who our favorite teachers were… In short, everything that was going on in our life in high school. They were wonderful, very involved,” she recalls.

Iman Vellani and Kamala Khan, two express passages to adulthood

The Disney miniseries tells how Kamala discovers her powers and the responsibilities that come with it. “Kamala’s main challenge is to become her own superhero, and not a watered-down version of someone else,” summarizes the actress. A metaphor for coming of age. “We wanted to explore the awkwardness of growing up,” summarizes Iman Villani.

An accelerated coming-of-age experience experienced simultaneously by the actress. “Discovering her superpowers is the equivalent of me getting this role,” she says. While in fiction, Kamala learns to master her superpowers, on set, Iman Vellani discovered the daily life of a blockbuster. “Everything was so new. The simple fact of being on the set was a source of constant fascination, whether for the equipment or the people with whom I worked, ”rejoices the actress.

The experience on the miniseries allowed him to prepare his first role in the cinema, in the film The Marvels, expected in theaters in 2023, where Iman Vellani will respond to Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris: “It’s intimidating to work with big names. But Brie has been by my side from the start, she contacted me a few days after I got the role. She held my hand. Shooting this series allowed me to apprehend more calmly the shooting of The Marvels. I learned to work with green screens, special effects. I had never filmed anything before! Now I have gained good experience! » And to deliver on screen a performance full of energy and freshness!