Comic writer G. Willow Wilson made history in 2014 when her Pakistani-American character “Kamala Khan”—a.k.a. “Ms. Marvel”—became Marvel Comics’ first Muslim lead character. Wilson, a Muslim American herself, discussed her character’s genesis and relevance to the political climate on the latest episode of Rewire’s “Get It Right” podcast.
“What was important to me and to [editor] Sana [Amanat] was to show that American Muslims are not monolithic,” Wilson told podcast host and Black Girl Nerds editor Jamie Broadnax. “That there is no one stereotype that fits everybody, and that, like all families, not everybody in the same family believes the same thing or behaves in the same way. And that you can get [into] arguments about what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s appropriate, what’s not appropriate, but that it’s done with the same kind of love and, oftentimes, hilarity that happen in all families.” To that end, Wilson, who wears a hijab, opted to have Khan only “wear it in situations where it was religiously and culturally appropriate” to better reflect the fluidity of many young Muslim American girls’ presentation.
Wilson also addressed how contemporary Islamophobia and discrimination impacts her writing. ”It’s really been about finding a balance between speaking directly to the things that are happening in the political sphere now, the xenophobia, the rise in various forms of racism and the ostracism of people who are not part of the traditional political elite,” she said. “It’s capturing that and making it feel relevant and, at the same time, keeping it in the world of fantasy. [That] has been a really interesting tension and a really interesting line to try to walk. It’s one of the challenges about this book that I really enjoy, but that also keeps me on my toes.”
Listen to the full conversation here.