The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had many active organizations within its decade-plus of storytelling. Of course, for one, there is Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, aka The Avengers. Then there have been agencies like SHIELD, SWORD, or even AIM. Well, now, thanks to Iman Vellani’s Disney+ streaming series Ms. Marvel, fans can add another to the list.
Warning - the rest of this article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Ms. Marvel.
In Episode 4 of Kamala Khan’s adventure, she headed off to Karachi to try and get information about her new bangle. Once there, the young hero ends up running into an entirely new sect of protectors: The Red Daggers.
The group, led by a man named Waleed, has been around for centuries, helping to defend Pakistan from outside threats. More specifically, they’ve been tasked with protecting the bangle itself from the Clandestines as they try to keep the group from breaking the veil between realities.
The Direct was able to sit down with the actor behind Waleed to talk about his character and this mysterious new organization.
Farhan Akhtar Talks Red Daggers & Avengers Crossovers
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, Ms. Marvel actor Farhan Akhtar, who plays Waleed in the new series, opened up about his character’s debut in Episode 4, the organization he leads, and what they might think about the Avengers.
That mysterious new group led by Akhtar’s character is none other than the Red Daggers. From the sound of it, they seem to protect Karachi from all manners of threats—especially those from other dimensions, like the Clandestines.
So what’s the difference between them, and say, the Sanctum Sanctorum and its various sorcerers? According to the man behind Waleed, the Red Dagger’s purpose is a little less cryptic, and certainly a lot more clear and personal in regards to Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan:
“Well, I mean, if I remember very clearly... I think in Doctor Strange, the explanation given was a lot more cryptic… I think Waleed is a little bit more clear in explaining to Kamala, you know, what it is that she needs to be doing, you know, and what it is that her purpose is, and what it is that the bangle can potentially do if taken over by the Clandestines. So I just think that there's a little bit more clarity in this probably…”
He continued, making it clear that their “purpose is protecting the bangle at all costs,” and that if they have other purposes, only “time and good writing will tell:”
“Well, their purpose is protecting the bangle at all costs. That's their larger purpose. Because they don't want the Clandestines to be unleashed onto Earth, onto the real world. So that's one of the purposes, that's the one we see in this. Do they have other purposes? I guess time and good writing will tell.”
But where were they when Thanos wiped out half of existence? Akhtar joked that “[they were] sharpening [their] blades,” and casually waiting to join in the fun if they failed—which, in the end, they both did and didn’t.
The Red Daggers also have a fancy headquarters which was showcased alongside their debut, and it looked gorgeous. The actor revealed that “it was built from the ground up, and that “every single crew member wanted to [try out the secret door in the kitchen]:”
“It was built from the ground up. It was on a soundstage. And just yeah, really beautiful set… all of it, especially that whole kitchenette area that you would push and like kind of move in. Every single crew member wanted to give that a shot.”
Obviously, Waleed’s group isn’t the only to be watching over Earth. So what do they think of some of those other teams, such as the Avengers? It turns out, Waleed wants a crossover.
Akhtar joked that “if anything, Waleed wants to be a part of the Avengers,” and he made it clear how he doesn’t believe they look down on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes at all:
“No, I don't... I don't think we look down on the Avengers. I think if anything Waleed wants to be a part of the Avengers. I think that's where he's like, ‘I've been at it for so long, why aren’t they recognizing me?”
He continued, saying that he would think that Waleed looks up to Thor the most, especially since the God of Thunder was referenced in one of his speeches to Kamala:
“I would possibly say Thor. He also references him in the episode... I mean, normally, when you speak about someone, when you take an example and speak about someone, it's usually about someone you admire.”
How far back does this Karachi-based group of protectors go? The actor mentioned how they “weren’t given like any official number[s],” but that it’s certainly been “a couple of hundred years:”
“No, we weren't given like any official number as such, but I mean, as far as the history that they created, I mean, he even did go back a couple of hundred years. I mean, not that many events from that time were like kind of described in detail. But I mean, that really was the history because I mean, the history of, of India and Pakistan, the Partition played a huge part in his story. So all of that was there in the history…”
Most of Ms. Marvel was filmed during the height of the pandemic, especially all of the scenes they shot abroad. So what was it like to go through that?
Akhtar explained how “it had become the new normal, so it didn’t feel weird [at the time]:”
“You know, weirdly enough, I mean, like they said it had become the new normal, so it didn't feel weird. You know, at that time, I mean, I think now when things have gone back to the old normal, you know, if you were suddenly asked to do that, again, you complain a lot more. But there wasn't much of a choice and just the fact that you could still be working was great. You know, so I mean having to go through 14 days of being quarantined in your hotel room before you could even step out and meet anyone was a very new experience. Yeah, but you know, but it teaches you things you know, I mean, if nothing else, you just learned that I mean, [people] take so many things for granted. It [can] just all be gone like that.”
The show also did a notable amount of reshoots earlier this year. Was any of Waleed’s content changed? According to the actor himself, “what [audiences] see in the [fourth] episode was done pretty much in the first [batch of filming]:”
“No, there was... a little bit of... there was some pickups that were done a little bit later. But predominantly, what you see in the in the episode was done pretty much in the first [batch of filming].”
The Inspiration of the Avenger
The idea of different local organizations and supergroups is something that could use more exploration in the MCU. Black Widow had Red Guardian, and now Ms. Marvel has introduced the Red Daggers (they seem to like the color red).
Even more interesting is how the group seems inspired by the Avengers. It’s not surprising, per se, but many times these groups hold at least a tiny bit of ire towards the more popular groups—but the Red Daggers seem pretty confident in both themselves and their purpose.
The fact that Akhtar believes Waleed wants to join Earth's Mightiest Heroes could suggest where the character may end up. Though Waleed seemed to have met his demise in the episode, there's always a chance that his death could have been a fakeout. Perhaps Akhtar's character could return and finally get some well-deserved recognition from the Avengers in a future MCU crossover. From the sounds of it, Waleed would make for a good buddy for Thor to hang out with in his next space-faring adventure.
While Waleed seems to be dead, his organization will live on. If it were up to Ms. Marvel's director Shareem Obaid-Chinoy, they’d go on to take part in other events in the MCU sooner rather than later. The group may seem narrowly focused on the Clandestines, there’s probably plenty of room to explore their wider purpose. Maybe Marvel can sneak in some Inhuman references?
Ms. Marvel is now streaming on Disney+.