From ‘Ms Marvel’ To ‘Moon Knight’, 5 Times The MCU Got Cultural And Religious Representation Right
The Marvel Cinematic Universe or the MCU is steadily climbing the diversity representation mountain right now. It’s choosing to tell stories about characters of colour, characters with disabilities, and characters from the LGBTQIA+ community and other marginalized groups. But then again, so are many others, right? What differentiates one from the throng is if they are doing it right or are coming close to and making efforts to portray the cultures and religions of their diverse characters authentically and richly, and not just as a superficial, matter-of-fact icing layer on the cake.
People want to see Marvel characters who are like them on-screen—characters who fast during Ramadan, characters who say a rosary when they’re afraid, characters whose dietary restrictions are based on what they consider holy, and whose attire reflects their beliefs. Aspects like these can actually help viewers relate with the characters and comprehend their motivations in a much better manner.
Non-MCU Marvel movies like Daredevil and the X-Men franchise have included the religious leanings of their characters in the films, and Marvel seems to have finally understood the assignment. In their recent titles, such as Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings or the ongoing Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, which brings us our first Muslim superhero in Pakistani-American Kamala Khan, the franchise can be seen taking steps towards creating a religiously inclusive MCU.
Ms Marvel’s writer G. Willow Wilson told Binge Daily, “I think we are at a point in comic book history where there is unprecedented openness to diversity and we have the fans to thank for that. We’ve talked a lot about top-down inclusivity from the publishing side, but really, this conversation is being driven by fans.”
And so, let’s talk about the recent triumphs, or glorious attempts by the Marvel Studios, to bring some worthy representation to the MCU.
Movies and TV shows that include religious representation and faith in the MCU
1. Ms. Marvel
Ms Marvel is very unique as MCU is introducing their first Muslim superhero in the same. The show is being developed with Kamala Khan, played by a brilliant Iman Vellani, taking the lead. Along with being a hero, Kamala will be shown following all religious edicts that come with being a Muslim. And so far, the writers Bisha K. Ali and creator Sana Amanat have done a fantastic job in portraying the immigrant culture and the Islamic religion authentically. Everything from the music choices in the series, comprising South Asian artists heavily, to the mannerisms, festivals, and social ceremonies of Kamala’s family and community have been beautifully and respectfully portrayed. You’re going to love Episode 3!
2. Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings
Marvel’s Shang-Chi is heavily inspired from Chinese philosophy, religion, traditions and mythology to tell a story that could only spring from the Eastern part of the civilisation. In short, this movie is a door that opens up the world to the East Asian imagination. The movie also features the very first Asian superhero, played by Simu Liu. Shang-Chi’s actualization into an MCU superhero gives us a hero who comes from a culture that is more we-focused than me-focused, and I see that as a good thing. What’s more, by casting a majorly Asian cast including Awkwafina, Tony Leung, and Michelle Yeoh, and impeccably depicting the martial arts employed in the action sequences, it’s not surprising that Shang-Chi was such a landmark MCU superhero origin story, and loved by the critics and audiences alike.
Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About Disney+ Series ‘Ms. Marvel’ Release Date, Cast, And More
3. Moon Knight
Steeped in Egyptian Mythology, Marvel’s Moon Knight is a character defined by his religious roots. He is the avatar of the Egyption moon god Khonshu, represented by his crescent moon symbol. Khonshu serves as the guardian of those who travel by night and the rebels, making Khonshu closely aligned with the isolated and the rebellious. And this is shown in Moon Knight’s avatar too. Marc Spector, the human aspect of Moon Knight, was the son of a rabbi and he fled with his father during the Holocaust. The Disney+ adaption of Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke, has received rave reviews for its portrayal of the character and the Egyptian culture, especially dealing with the afterlife. The show’s direction is led by Egyptian screenwriter and director Mohamed Diab, who also brought on board Egyptian music composer Hesham Nazih to do the music, and it’s given us an excellent soundtrack!
Nightcrawler is an exceptional character and unique study because unlike other mutants like him, he is able to conceal his mutation. He is seen leaning heavily on his faith to do so. Whether it’s in Marvel comics, the series or the movies, Nightcrawler can always be seen praying and asking his God for guidance and forgiveness. In fact, he even prays on behalf of others to protect them and save their souls.
Also Read: Marvel Movies Releasing in 2022 and 2023
5. Thor and Loki
Thor and Loki visited Earth with their father, Odin, where they taught the Norse people everything. In doing so, they convinced them that the Asgardians are deities, and bestowed upon Thor and Loki the monikers “God of Thunder” and “God of Mischief”. Marvel has also shown them to be religiously prayed to in Asgard as well as on earth and continues to borrow elements, like Ragnarok, from Norse mythology. We see a lot of scenes related to this in the Disney+ series, Loki.
The list doesn’t end here! Marvel often dives into the religious backgrounds of their characters and explores mythologies of cultures across the globe to set a movie or series and, we hope that they continue to do so. Something’s gotta make up for what they did with Kumail Nanjiani’s Kingo in Eternals, right?
Ahead Of ‘Ms Marvel’ Release, Farhan Akhtar Writes Note Saying He Is Proud Of Its ‘Conscious Inclusiveness’
- Ms Marvel
- Marvel Cinematic Universe
- Marvel Studios
- moon knight
- Shang-Chi And The Legend of The Ten Rings
Mehak Walia is an author and journalist who is addicted to psychology, true crime, Netflix, sarcasm, and makeup!