Marvel Is Introducing a New, Original Native Hero to ‘What If…?’
The ep "will give the viewers a new, challenging and entertaining perspective on this land's first peoples."
Representation of historically marginalized people in the media we consume should never be an afterthought. Rather than only taking a character that was originally white and casting a global majority actor, or taking a superhero mantle from a white character and giving it to someone who isn’t white, we need more stories about characters that originate as members of underrepresented communities.
Marvel Studios is taking a step in this direction by creating a new, original, Native character for season 2 of their Disney+ anthology series, What If…?
Who is Kahhori?
The character is a Kanienʼkehá:ka (Mohawk) woman named Kahhori (pronounced ‘KAH-HORTI’). According to Marvel Studios, the episode in which she appears asks “what would happen if the Tesseract fell to Earth and landed in the sovereign Haudenosaunee Confederacy before the colonization of America.” Kahhori somehow finds the Tesseract and is able to turn a lake into a “portal to the stars.” This leads her on a quest to discover her true power. The episode’s dialogue will be entirely in the Kanienʼkehá:ka language.
This description is definitely giving me Prey vibes.
Working with the Kanienʼkehá:ka Nation
Creating a superhero this way—with no comic book origin—is a first for the company. While some of DC’s major players started out in other mediums (looking at you, Harley Quinn!), Marvel has mostly stuck to their stable of comic book heroes when telling stories in other mediums. (They have invented regular human characters for the MCU, though.)
In creating Kahhori and her story, Marvel Studios has gone to appropriate lengths to involve members of the Kanienʼkehá:ka Nation. This includes historian Doug George and Kanienʼkehá:ka language expert Cecelia King.
According to George:
“It tells a remarkable story from a Native-Mohawk perspective which is truly unique and historical, and will give the viewers a new, challenging and entertaining perspective on this land’s first peoples. The story is dramatic, the characters fully realized, and the action sequences are breathtaking. The episode is exceptional in another sense–it is done with the complete cooperation of the Mohawk people from dialogue to adornment.”
I’m a bit disappointed that Kahhori’s debut is not part of the main Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it’s great that she’s being introduced on a TV show, rather than in a comic. While Marvel seems to be hedging their bets a bit by not introducing Kahhori in the main movie universe, they seem to have enough confidence in her to introduce her on a platform where she’ll have a larger audience.
Wanna hear me talk about this in more detail? I was a guest on this week’s Fanbase Weekly podcast, where we discussed Kahhori and other geek news!
While I’m a huge fan of Marvel, I’ve never watched What If…? The chance to meet Kahhori might be the thing to get me to start!
(featured image: Marvel Studios)
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