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Meet Iman Vellani: The MCU's Ms. Marvel Actress Is a Big Iron Man Fan

Ms. Marvel silhouette, Ms. Marvel logo, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man from Iron Man 3

Ms. Marvel seems to be one of few Disney+ series' that Marvel Studios is placing priority on, with new details about the series continuing to come out. 

Several directors have been announced to join the series, including Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah.

Ms. Marvel has also received a few casting rumors as of late, such as Jasjit Williams and Saagar Shaikh joining in supporting roles. Other supporting roles are being looked for through casting calls from Marvel Studios, such as comic book characters Zoe Zimmer and Tyesha Hillman. Ms. Marvel seems to feature a major focus on family and Kamala Khan's local community, judging from a casting call looking for four new characters for the series.

This culminated in the news that Iman Vellani has been cast as the MCU's Ms. Marvel, joining the Disney+ series in the lead role.

Iman Vellani is a relatively unknown actress, with Ms. Marvel being her first mainstream blockbuster production that she will be a part of. There is some information on Vellani though that provides a bit of insight into what fans can expect from the MCU newcomer...

UP-AND-COMER

Kevin Feige and Ms. Marvel
Marvel

The MCU's Ms. Marvel Iman Vellani is Canadian and between 18-19 years old. According to The Hollywood Reporter writer Borys Kit, Marvel Studios has been testing actresses this summer and came to the decision of going with Vellani between late August and early September.

Last year, Iman Vellani was announced to be one of twelve members on the Next Wave Committee for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The Next Wave Committee is a group of students comprised of young film enthusiasts who go on to make selections for films that are a part of the festival. 

As part of this, Vellani spoke with CBC about her pick for best film at TIFF, choosing the film Hala. The film follows Muslim teenager Hala as she straddles between two cultures. Hala has to walk the line between her Muslim faith and Western values that live outside of this culture, which sounds eerily similar to themes tackled in the Ms. Marvel comics. On Hala, Vellani mentioned that she "was really able to relate" to the film:

"I think the one that actually just spoke to me the most was this little film called Hala, and it was just beautiful the way that Minhal Baig, the director, projected her entire life story into this charming character of Hala who is this Pakistani-American-Muslim teenager with immigrant parents, actually just like myself, so I was really able to relate a lot to this film."

Vellani summarized some of the struggles that Hala undergoes in the film, which could influence how the actress will portray Kamala:

"It basically just follows Hala just trying to live her life separate from her school life and her home life because they're so different with her parents just enforcing rules on her and trying to make her live life with their values and their beliefs that were mainly just present from their country, and now that she's in this Westernized society it's so hard for her to try to obey her parents while also keeping friendships and relationships."

Iman Vellani has a clear love for film, particularly toward those that are pertinent to social issues that affect audiences today:

"I think [it]'s a really important film to see when you want to take a good look at a young member of society who's just trying to fit in to the best of both worlds."

Vellani spoke to TIFF themselves as a part of her profile for the Next Wave Committee and provided some interesting answers. Vellani described herself in three words as "curious, adventurous, meticulous," all being adjectives befitting of Kamala Khan. In response to being asked who Vellani would want to play her in a movie, she responded by saying "Iron Man... duh." 

Vellani clearly has a lot of love for the MCU, even calling out Kevin Feige by name in dedicating a stop-motion pandemic-inspired animation to the Marvel producer. Could this short film, which was shared 6 months ago, have helped her secure the role of the MCU's Ms. Marvel?

The footage was made well before her casting, and almost echoes a similar situation where Simu Liu seemingly willed his Shang-Chi casting into existence.

TIFF also took the time to congratulate to Vellani for landing the role:

 



BIG THINGS AHEAD

While it is difficult to say for certain, Iman Vellani's appreciation for films like Hala that follow coming-of-age stories for minority groups could have some influence into her performance as Kamala Khan. The similarities between Hala and Ms. Marvel are staggering, so it will be interesting to see how far these connections go as more details about the series surface. Vellani considered stories of young people straddling different cultures as being important, and she will now be able to communicate this message by portraying these themes to a much larger, mainstream audience.

Ms. Marvel Kevin Feige
Marvel

Iman Vellani's connection to the MCU is interesting given her newfound role as Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan as a character is intended to be a massive fan of superheroes in-universe, so it is likely that Vellani will be able to use her own love of the characters in her performance. Given Vellani has some background knowledge of the MCU too, this will surely help her fit into the role nicely.

While it has yet to be confirmed, it is likely that Brie Larson's Carol Danvers will be featured in some capacity in the series due to her connection to Ms. Marvel. Vellani will likely get a kick out of being able to act opposite an MCU star that she has been fan of, should this happen in the series.

Fans will be able to see Iman Vellani in Ms. Marvel when the series premieres on Disney+ in 2022.