Marvel wrapped up 2015 with two of the year’s biggest movies, Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron taking home major payloads and fan plaudits. 2016 is shaping up to be another impressive year on all fronts, as the television and film wings gear up for new adventures, including Phase 3 of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War, as well as the launch of their Luke Cage series, and the next rounds of Agent Carter and Jessica Jones, among others.
The last couple of years also saw some major shakeups on the comic book side of things. The latest "Secret Wars" story arc ended 15 years of Ultimate Marvel, allowing the company to merge the 616 Universe with the 1610 Universe, and introduce the All-New, All-Different Marvel last year. This year also brought the end of the Fantastic Four (at least temporarily) for the first time in five decades, and another award for their acclaimed Ms. Marvel series.
Marvel has announced that its critically lauded Ms. Marvel series had won the Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics at the Long Beach Comic Expo. Named after McDuffie, a writer/producer who worked on animated and comic book series like Damage Control and Deathlok, the prize honors artists and titles which increase multicultural elements and awareness in comics. Co-creator and writer of the Ms. Marvel, G. Willow Wilson, accepted the award, thanking fans for the series' continued success:
“This award is very special to me, not just because of its connection to Dwayne, but because of what it represents…it is something being kept alive by one thing only and that is the readers and the fans…You are the beating heart to this series. I would like to dedicate this award to them – to the readers – to the fans. They are the ones changing the face of this industry.”
Praised for its solid characterization and genuine portrayal of Muslim-Americans, Ms. Marvel has already won a Hugo Award last year, as well as being nominated for Eisner and Harvey Awards. In the series, Kamala Khan began her run the fourth incarnation of Ms. Marvel (originally Carol Danvers who became Captain Marvel) and successor to Dr. Karla Sofen in 2014. Created by Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona, this iteration follows Khan, a 16-year-old Pakistani-American, who realizes she has Inhuman genes. Idolizing Captain Marvel since childhood, she takes on the one-time Ms. Marvel's mantle.
Kamala Khan’s sequential adventures are by no means the comic world’s first foray into the Arabic or Muslim world. Series like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Magdy El Shafee’s Metro delve into the complex issues surrounding the Levant and North Africa. However, Ms. Marvel is the Big Two’s first story featuring a Muslim-American as the main character – although both houses have a number of minor and recurring characters like Dust (from New X-Men), Robin (Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul’s son Damian Wayne), and the Simon Baz incarnation of Green Lantern. Since taking over, Khan’s version of Ms. Marvel has resonated very strongly with fans of both genders around the world thanks to its strong characterization and insightful glimpses into its protagonists struggles with her culture, impending adulthood, and the responsibilities entailed by her burgeoning superpowers.
Hopefully, the continuing popularity and success of Ms. Marvel will encourage her inclusion in some of the upcoming MCU – which, unlike their TV universe, has been generally devoid of strong female and multicultural characters. An appearance by Khan certainly isn't outside the realm of possibility, especially if the Inhumans weave in and out of Marvel’s TV and Cinematic Universes. Although a stretch, it would be also be a fun nod if Kamala Khan showed up in the upcoming Captain Marvel adaption. Her presence in the MCU and Marvel TV universe (aside from a possible appearance on Avengers: Ultron Revolution) remains uncertain at present, though.
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.