“Ms. Marvel” proves that seriously exploring identity issues and depicting cultures with true specificity enriches a story for all audiences. The characters’ varying levels of religious adherence, struggles with assimilation, merry holiday celebrations, jokes about mosque cliques, and experiences of state discrimination are all well integrated into the story. The series gets even deeper as it explores the legacy of the Partition of India on Kamala’s family, discusses the work of Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan and sees Kamala’s father watch cricket, one of Pakistan’s most popular sports. Muslim and South Asian writers have debated the power of seeing a superhero represent them with this kind of vibrancy for media outlets like the BBC and NPR.
Even if you’re not part of the represented community, this is all extremely interesting. The peculiarity of “Ms. Marvel” makes the story feel much more real and gives Kamala more depth and nuance. Additionally, the cultural themes the series explores are widely relatable, even to people from vastly different backgrounds. Many people struggle with strict parents, cultural exclusion and fear of assimilation, even if they don’t come from a Pakistani-American family. All of this is further proof that deep cultural representation and universal appeal are not exclusive concepts.