Newcomer Iman Vellani has nabbed the role of the teenage superhero, who will headline her own Disney+ series before appearing on the big screen in Marvel films.
Marvel had been testing actors throughout the summer and had landed on Vellani by late August or early September, sources say. The Canadian actor hails from the Toronto area and a year ago took part in a Toronto International Film Festival committee that helped highlight films that speak to teenagers. She focused on Hala, a film centering on a Pakistani American teen pulled between her family and life in the West — themes that are echoed in the Ms. Marvel comics.
“We want stories from different genders and different countries and different people,” Vellani said at the time.
Disney+’s Ms. Marvel centers on New Jersey teenager Kamala Khan, who broke ground in 2014 as Marvel’s first Muslim character to star in her own comic book title. Her comics are known for exploring Kamala’s identity as a Pakistani American living in a religious family while trying to find her own way.
Ms. Marvel is from head writer Bisha K. Ali and will be directed by Bad Boys for Life filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, as well as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a two-time Oscar winner in the documentary short category, and Meera Menon, who has directed episodes of The Walking Dead, The Punisher and Titans.
Actor Kumail Nanjiani, who stars in the upcoming Marvel film The Eternals and who was born in Pakistan, welcomed Vellani to the Marvel family Wednesday.
“I just saw they cast Ms. Marvel and legit got teary eyed. Congratulations Iman Vellani! Your work is going to mean so much to so many people, myself included. I can’t wait,” Nanjiani wrote on Twitter.
Ms. Marvel is one of a number of shows Marvel Studios has lined up for Disney+, including WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which originally was set to bow this year and recently resumed production. Meanwhile, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was partially completed before the coronavirus shut it down.
—Borys Kit contributed to this report.