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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.

Illustration of the character Kahhori on Marvel Studios' 'What If...?' series on Disney+. Kahhori stands against a white background. She is a Mohawk woman with dark hair pulled back into a braid. Her face has blue and white paint on her forehead and cheeks. She is wearing a blue and white dress-like garment over breeches in a similar color scheme and white boots. In the corner of the image we see the red, black, and white Marvel Studios What If...? logo.
(Marvel Studios)

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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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.