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WARNING: VERY MILD POSSIBLE SPOILERS, AS I HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES AND THUS CAN’T SPOIL IT VERY MUCH.

I loved Captain Marvel, and have always loved the Captain Marvel character. Then a privileged white woman from the American Northeast decides that ohmygod Islam is so amazing and empowering, and shoehorns into Captain Marvel’s spotlight by writing a Pakistani Muslim character deeply associated with her. (Does the fact that Wilson is about as far separated from Pakistan and Islamic societies as I am from the throne of England bother anyone else? We’re constantly being reminded not to appropriate someone else’s culture, which is a valid point, but it’s okay for this one well-off American white person to say she can write a Pakistani Muslim character? Whatever.)

The MCM has never involved religion. I’ve loved that. Sure, Captain America made a quip about how there’s only one god, but that was written as a jocular jab at his character. He was looking at a god, for Pete’s sake. I felt deeply uncomfortable with Ms. Marvel from the start, because her character was explicitly Islamic and was supposed to be an inspiration to young girls. Some people tried to tell me “It’s no different from Black Panther, she’s just supposed to give an under-represented group a good presence in comics” but it’s not. The difference is that Black Panther is associated with a race, a nation, NOT an ideology. Thus I don’t like the idea of “Captain Marvel, but Muslim” any more than I would like the idea of “Black Widow, except she’s Mormon and that’s so amazingly cool, she’s an example to young girls everywhere, especially the Mormon ones, who need to be reminded of how special and amazing their culture and faith is.” Basically I don’t want someone elses’s patriarchal beliefs being marketed to me as empowering to me as a woman. Fuck that noise.

I know Ms. Marvel is written with a sort of “oh, she has these very strict parents, what a bummer” kind of a deal, but again, that’s how Wilson writes it, almost like a teenage girl having strict Muslim parents is just another freaky, awkward part of teenage girlhood. Oh no, I said something stupid to my crush and my dad is deeply upset that I ever even had a crush because I need to be keeping my eyes lowered! What’s a girl to do, right??

But I figured, so long as I avoided Wilson’s glassy-eyed stare and her comic books, I’d be okay. After all, it’s not like they’re going to emphasize Ms. Marvel’s religion in an actual MCM series, right? It’s 2022. They’ll trim it down. Her being Muslim will just be like Captain America being Christian: an afterthought.

I haven’t seen the series yet, but I got a rundown from one of my friends. His take was that Ms. Marvel’s Islamic faith is very much emphasized in it. It’s not like a commercial for Islam, but apparently there are jinns, and they come from a mystica dimension called “Nur”, the Islamic word for God’s light. Apparently there are all sorts of references to Islam in the series, he said, again, not like a recruitment effort or something, but almosr as though it’s just assumed that Islam is true and real.

Again, I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. Is it really like that? He and another person I was with debated over it, she said that they just do stuff like visit a mosque and celebrate an Islamic holiday but the specific place isn’t that important to the story. But she did admit about the jinns, the Nur dimension, and the regular references to Islamic culture. I don’t know. I’m uncomfortable with the whole thing, but is he wrong? I don’t want to watch something that will just end up pissing me off, but I also don’t want to miss something good.

***WARNING: VERY MILD POSSIBLE SPOILERS, AS I HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES AND THUS CAN’T SPOIL IT VERY MUCH.*** I loved *Captain Marvel*, and have always loved the Captain Marvel character. Then a privileged white woman from the American Northeast decides that ohmygod Islam is so amazing and empowering, and shoehorns into Captain Marvel’s spotlight by writing a Pakistani Muslim character deeply associated with her. (Does the fact that Wilson is about as far separated from Pakistan and Islamic societies as I am from the throne of England bother anyone else? We’re constantly being reminded not to appropriate someone else’s culture, which is a valid point, but it’s okay for this one well-off American white person to say she can write a Pakistani Muslim character? Whatever.) The MCM has never involved religion. I’ve loved that. Sure, Captain America made a quip about how there’s only one god, but that was written as a jocular jab at his character. He was looking at a god, for Pete’s sake. I felt deeply uncomfortable with Ms. Marvel from the start, because her character was explicitly Islamic *and* was supposed to be an inspiration to young girls. Some people tried to tell me “It’s no different from Black Panther, she’s just supposed to give an under-represented group a good presence in comics” but it’s not. The difference is that Black Panther is associated with a race, a nation, *NOT* an ideology. Thus I don’t like the idea of “Captain Marvel, but Muslim” any more than I would like the idea of “Black Widow, except she’s Mormon and that’s so amazingly cool, she’s an example to young girls everywhere, especially the Mormon ones, who need to be reminded of how special and amazing their culture and faith is.” Basically I don’t want someone elses’s patriarchal beliefs being marketed to me as empowering to me as a woman. Fuck that noise. I know Ms. Marvel is written with a sort of “oh, she has these very strict parents, what a bummer” kind of a deal, but again, that’s how Wilson writes it, almost like a teenage girl having strict Muslim parents is just another freaky, awkward part of teenage girlhood. Oh no, I said something stupid to my crush *and* my dad is deeply upset that I ever even had a crush because I need to be keeping my eyes lowered! What’s a girl to do, right?? But I figured, so long as I avoided Wilson’s glassy-eyed stare and her comic books, I’d be okay. After all, it’s not like they’re going to emphasize Ms. Marvel’s religion in an actual MCM series, right? It’s 2022. They’ll trim it down. Her being Muslim will just be like Captain America being Christian: an afterthought. I haven’t seen the series yet, but I got a rundown from one of my friends. His take was that Ms. Marvel’s Islamic faith is very much emphasized in it. It’s not like a commercial for Islam, but apparently there are jinns, and they come from a mystica dimension called “Nur”, the Islamic word for God’s light. Apparently there are all sorts of references to Islam in the series, he said, again, not like a recruitment effort or something, but almosr as though it’s just assumed that Islam is true and real. Again, I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know. Is it really like that? He and another person I was with debated over it, she said that they just do stuff like visit a mosque and celebrate an Islamic holiday but the specific place isn’t that important to the story. But she did admit about the jinns, the Nur dimension, and the regular references to Islamic culture. I don’t know. I’m uncomfortable with the whole thing, but is he wrong? I don’t want to watch something that will just end up pissing me off, but I also don’t want to miss something good.

6 comments

I'm not against characters from religious backgrounds because people like that exist in real life and its silly to pretend that they don't. My issue is with the representation brush not being evenly applied. Like, super devout Christians are all characterized as repressive bigots. But super devout Muslim families are all super perfect and sweet and tolerant with no flaws at all.

IMO, one of the best portrayals of a religious character is the 90s X-Men cartoon. Nightcrawler is a devout Christian in that show and his faith helps him withstand the discrimination and hardship he faces. Whereas Wolverine thinks religion is stupid because any God who would curse mutants to be shunned by society is an asshole (and also because many people in the church are hostile to Nightcrawler because he's a mutant). And both characters are written so that you sympathize with their perspectives. Its wild that a 90s children's cartoon treated religion with more nuance and reality than anything made by Marvel today

I get that! I don’t mind religious characters either. I think they can add a lot of richness to the story. But I admit, having a character specifically created by a white Muslim convert to showcase feminism in a Pakistani Muslim character is a step too far for me. Not because of the specific religion, but because I just despise it when any repressive ideology is represented as feminist. Like I said, it would be no different to me if a Mormon wrote a Mormon character who’s supposed to be an inspiration both to Mormon and non-Mormon girls.

There’s nothing wrong with a Muslim (or Mormon, or whatever) character, there’s something wrong with a character who embraces a repressive, anti-woman ideology that’s held up as an example of empowerment to girls.

Not interested in this show. But, like you, i can't help wondering how G Willow Wilson avoided being cancelled for writing a Pakistani character as a White woman who converted to Islam as an adult (presumably for a man). I'm guessing its because most people don't care as much about the comic writers (and many readers likely don't know what she looks like)

I haven't seen it either, though probably will just to keep up with the MCU lore. I've heard mixed reviews, though, so I'll take it with a grain of salt. Plus, the MCU TV shows have been hit or miss.

My suggestion: read the wiki if the stuff you've mentioned bothers you this much. They tend to be detailed enough that when the next Captain Marvel movie comes out, you'll be in the loop.

Plus, the MCU TV shows have been hit or miss.

Oof…tell me about it. I sat through the entirety of Falcon and the Winter Soldier and that’s time I’ll never get back.

I liked it! It seems fairly realistic and fair in terms of what her life would be like. I think the comparison to Captain America is a pretty good one, in terms of what it means to be a person suffused with a religious background.