By SARAH CATE WOLFSON, age 10
In 2013, Marvel created a new Ms. Marvel, a series of female superheroes. They introduced Kamala Khan, a Muslim teen from Jersey City with shapeshifting superpowers who fights against gender stereotypes. She is just one of several new female Muslim superhero characters created by mainstream and independent comic book publishers.
Marvel wants to add more diversity to their superhero comics. According to Time, Marvel added 16 new female superhero characters from 2012 to 2015. In order to do it, they are bringing on more diverse writers. G. Willow Wilson, the Muslim woman who created Kamala Khan for Marvel, said, “Now I have people you would least expect–like this giant, blond, bearded guy I met in Denver–telling me how they connect to Ms. Marvel because they were made fun of in school for being different.”
Independent publishers are also creating web comics and cartoons about Muslim female superheroes. A cartoon character called the Burka Avenger uses her traditional dress’s superpowers as a form of empowerment. It also hides her identity as she fights crime, similar to other superheros. When the show was screened at an orphanage in Islamabad, 10-year-old Samia Naeem said she liked that the superhero “saved kids’ lives [and] motivated them for education and school.”
Some of Marvel’s fans disliked the recent additions, specifically Kamala Khan, and sent hate mail, but other readers find them to be positive role models for young Muslim women. As one Mexican Muslim woman blogger said, “At the very least, they may represent alternatives to the ways in which Muslim women are depicted … or omitted from such content for decades.”