The American Superhero

My research topic focuses on Ms. Marvel as a response to Islamophobia in the post-9/11 era. Specifically, I hope to relate how this attitude echoes the “us vs. them” dichotomy rhetoric that was prevalent during the Cold War era.

There has been frequent discussion in both academic and popular press about Ms. Marvel as a face of the changing dynamics of representation in comics. In her book Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation, Carolyn Cocca outlines the surprising success of the series and the relatability of its protagonist, as well. She also briefly discuss the image of Kamala and her family as subversions of the image of Muslims as terrorists that is frequently presented in modern media. Miriam Kent has also examined the popularity of the comic in her article “Unveiling Marvels: Ms. Marvel And The Reception Of The New Muslim Superheroine.”, where she addresses the overwhelmingly positive reception that Ms.Marvel has received from the press. However, she notes “a fondness for assimilation” in pitches from critics, who frequently stress the character’s relatability as a quirky teenager who is “just like us”, thereby reducing and sometimes ignoring the importance of her status as a depiction of a female Muslim character in comics. Kent also discusses the depiction of “otherness” in Ms. Marvel and Kamala’s attempt to balance her identity as a Pakistani American and her desire to fit in. I hope to further the discussion by addressing how Ms. Marvel’s depiction of Kamala Khan as an American superhero reconstructs what it means to be American, specifically as it relates to the “us vs. them” rhetoric that returned in the post-9/11 era, and better explain how this representation is a response to the post-9/11 era.


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