Ms. Marvel is set to make waves as it nears its premiere date on June 8, with the super-powered streaming series from Marvel Studios focusing on Kamala Khan (played by Iman Vellani). Kamala is a noted Avengers super-fan who, after getting powers of her own, has to navigate being a hero, going to high school, and coming to grips with her own culture. Since being cast, Vellani has captured fans' hearts as she expresses her admiration for Marvel exec Kevin Feige and the MCU.
The Disney+ series will not only be Iman Vellani's first Marvel project but her first major acting credit. The Canadian actress was a fan of the franchise before being cast as Kamala and now has the potential to meet her heroes. After Ms. Marvel completes its streaming run, Kamala Khan will become a familiar face in the MCU, as she is set to appear in next year's The Marvels alongside Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris
But how has the young star's enthusiasm been viewed by her costars and the Marvel brass? Well, some new quotes from Vellani hint at the actress's relationship with one of the biggest names at Marvel Studios.
The Vellani/Feige Friendship at Marvel Studios
In an interview with Esquire, Ms. Marvel leading lady Iman Vellani pulled the curtain back on her relationship with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
Vellani said that she looks up to Feige and he knows how "obsessed with him" she is, and that the Marvel exec is "warming...up to [her] reaction:"
"Okay, so my top favorite people in the entire world are Robert Downey Jr and Billy Joel, no one takes up that mental space. Kevin is three, and he knows how much I’m obsessed with him. He has been, you know, warming him up to my reaction."
She recounted "completely [freezing]" when meeting Feige for the first time:
"In our first week of filming, they told me, ‘he’s going come on Wednesday’. And it’s Monday. And I’m sleeping in my chair or something. And then someone walks up to us. And she’s like, ‘so there’s someone here to meet you’. And I, look down, up. And it’s just Kevin’s eyes because he was wearing a mask, and I froze completely. And he says, ‘I heard you’re doing a great job here!’ I did not speak to him or smile at him until he left. I literally gave him a stare. I felt so bad because he was trying to make conversation with me and talk to me. And I gave him nothing"
She then gave the Marvel bigwig a handwritten "four-or-five page letter," to which he later called her on a Zoom, breaking down that letter dancing around spoilers in regards to the "first 60 questions [she] had asked him:"
And I had this letter, a four-or-five page letter handwritten I had written for him that I was going to give to him in case this happened. But I did not bring it with me that day, because they told me he was coming on Wednesday. So Wednesday rolls around, and he comes back. And the same thing happens. Kevin’s like, ‘I’m going to leave unless you say something to me’. And I was like, I have something for you. And I gave him my letter. And he took it. And then I grabbed it back out of his hand. And he’s like, ‘do you want me to have it or not’? ‘Yes, yes,’ I said. And then the next day, he calls me on Zoom and PDFs with like, first 60 questions I had asked him in the letter.
She called Feige "very sweet" and "very supportive," and she hopes he "really likes how nerdy [she] am about the Marvel stuff."
"There’s a lot. The first page of the letter was just me being in love with him. And then the rest was just questions I had about his life, the MCU, what time he wakes up, when he eats for breakfast. It was like very basic stuff like that. I didn’t even care what the answers were. I just wanted to hear him talk. I cannot tell you any of his answers, but some of them were really dumb. And he segues his way around every single question I had about like spoilers and stuff, which is the most infuriating thing. Before all the three Spider-Mans were announced, I was like, ‘so are three Spider-Mans in the movie? He goes, ‘I don’t know. But I’m going to show my kids Amazing Spider-Man tonight’. And I was like, what kind of answer is that? And those are all the ways he answers his questions, but he loves it and he loves the hold that he has on me. He’s very sweet and has been very supportive throughout this whole thing. And I think he really likes how nerdy I am about the Marvel stuff. Because when I visited his office, he was like, ‘God, it’s so nice to show people stuff who actually care!’ Like, yeah, tell me more, Kevin. That’s our relationship. I love it."
Vellani also addressed how she reacted to getting the role of Kamala Khan. She remembers the news came "on the last day of high school" when she and a friend were "going to go get burritos:"
"As I mentioned, it was on the the last day of high school, even though the end of high school ended up being over like Google Hangouts, which was really depressing. But my friends and I were like, okay, we’re going to go get burritos, go shopping, or whatever. So I get picked up by my friend, and we’re going to pick up another friend. And I get a text from [Casting Director] Sara Finn, and she’s like, ‘can you get on a call right now?’ And I’m like,’no’."
She said that none of her friends "[knew she] had auditioned:"
"My friends didn’t know I had auditioned. And then she’s like, ‘I just sent you the link, get on.’ I was like, ‘okay;, so as I get out of my friend’s car, and I’m on her driveway, I open the Zoom link, and it’s just Kevin’s face, and I know there’s like 15 other people on the call, but I literally could not see anyone but Kevin Feige."
Upon hearing that she had gotten the role Vellani said she "was just like heavy breathing," mentioning she "was basically in shock for a year and a half" only "just now processing it:"
"Kevin Feige is like my God in every sense of the word. I could not breathe, or talk, or anything. It was on the Zoom app, so you have to keep talking for people to see you. And I couldn’t keep talking, I was just like heavy breathing to make any noise. But yeah, Kevin told me about the part. I was basically in shock for a year and a half. I’m just now processing it. My friends are like, ‘did you win the lottery? Or what happened?’ I was like, ‘basically?’ I told them, and we were just like screaming in the car. Yeah. It’s a very weird moment. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t know how to react."
The Ms. Marvel actor then took a look ahead at what the future of her acting career looks like:
"Well, listen, I’ve pitched [Marvel Studios head] Kevin Feige so many movies. He does not take any sh** from me. I don’t know, I made shorts for fun when I got bored in high school, but I never wanted to be an actor, even though I went to school for theater in high school. I fell in love with the behind-the-scenes stuff. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I kind of wanted to try everything. That’s kind of what university was supposed to be for."
Inside the Mind of Iman Vellani
Iman Vellani really pulls back the curtain here and lets fans get to know her even more. Even though she is talking mostly about her relationship with Kevin Feige himself, she is really addressing her relationship with the MCU and the industry as a whole.
One can really see the enthusiasm she has for Marvel (and in turn Feige), and is processing all of this newfound fame in real-time. And she is not doing any of this alone. Feige and the Marvel Studios team have embraced the Ms. Marvel star in a way only comparable to the likes of Tom Holland.
She is going to grow with this franchise just like Holland has done/will continue to do, and Fiege can see that. He is enjoying the questions and nervous energy, because he knows that if they can nurture this relationship they could have a star amongst their ranks before anyone else has even seen them.
This looks to be only the beginning of Vellani's acting journey, and Marvel is ready to back her right to the mountaintop.
Ms. Marvel debuts on Disney+ on June 8.