Director Meera Menon on the Cultural Specificity of 'Ms. Marvel' | The Mary Sue
Skip to main content

Director Meera Menon on the Cultural Specificity of ‘Ms. Marvel’

Kamala Khan looks at her glowing hands in Ms. Marvel.

Disney+’s Ms. Marvel is the latest Marvel comic to get a live-action treatment, and critics are raving about the stylish and soulful new entry into the Marvel cinematic universe. While episode 1 introduced Kamala’s (Iman Vellani) family and school life, episode 2 of the series took viewers into Pakistani-Indian history, Kamala’s Muslim community, and the social cliques and hierarchies within her mosque. It’s a level of depth and nuance that we frankly haven’t seen from an MCU series before, which offers a welcome look at Kamala’s culture and how it influences her and her friends. The series features South Asian writers and directors, with episode 2 helmed by Meera Menon. Menon, who has directed episodes of Titans and The Punisher, was raised by South Asian immigrants in New Jersey just like Kamala. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Menon discussed her connection to the series, and how they were able to bring such authenticity to the community.

“I just wanted to be a part of it in any way, so I let [Marvel Studios] know right off the bat that it meant a lot to me to see that form of representation. It was seeing something akin to my sense of my own upbringing, and it just felt so meaningful to know that there was a piece of pop culture out there that was so reflective of my own upbringing in so many ways,” Menon said.

She added, “For me, it was really that. It was seeing something akin to my sense of my own upbringing, and it just felt so meaningful to know that there was a piece of pop culture out there that was so reflective of my own upbringing in so many ways. Not in all ways, but in so many ways. So I really made that clear, and then I also just loved the combination of things. I’ve worked on so many different genres of things, and I love how this show has a little bit of everything. It’s a family story, a teen romcom, a coming-of-age story, a superhero story, an action movie, a thriller. There are these really dark, suspenseful moments with the villains as they emerge. So it has a little bit of everything, and I loved the mash-up.”

Menon also delved into the specificity of the mosque scene, where Kamala and her friend Nakia (Yasmeen Fletcher) express frustration with the women’s section of the mosque. From overdue renovations to a recurring shoe thief, the women’s section doesn’t get the care or attention that the men’s section does. This leads to Nakia campaigning for a seat on the board of the mosque, which is dominated by older men. Menon discussed how these issues resonate within the Muslim community, saying “Sana Amanat, who’s the co-creator of the comic and the executive producer of the show, is the keeper and heartbeat of the story, and so many of these storylines are vetted through her and her personal experience. And then there’s Bisha K. Ali, who wrote the show, and Adil and Bilall’s experiences in the Muslim community. And then we had a whole team of cultural advisers who were constantly vetting the scripts and vetting the things we were about to shoot on any given day. So there were a lot of people bringing their personal experiences to these sequences, and I’m hoping that they come across as authentic at the end of the day, because a lot of people put their own lives and their own sense of selves into the storytelling.”

Menon directs episode 2 and 3 of Ms. Marvel, the latter of which drops tomorrow on Disney+.

(via THR, featured image: Marvel Entertainment)

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.