Forget about the release of Thor: The Dark World this weekend, we've got much more exciting superhero news. Marvel is developing a new comic book series around a character named Kamala Khan, a Muslim girl from Jersey City. Khan lives with her Pakistani family and has spent her life looking up to Carol Danvers, the superhero now known as Captain Marvel. When Kamala discovers her own powers, which include the ability to change shape, she chooses the name Ms. Marvel for herself as an homage to her idol. The series will not only feature Kamala's superhero adventures, but also her conflicts with growing up Pakistani and feeling "different" from everyone else, as well as ongoing struggles with her family members, who each have different ideas about the kind of girl she should be. According to one of the series' creators, Suna Amanat, "Her brother is extremely conservative. Her mom is paranoid that she’s going to touch a boy and get pregnant. Her father wants her to concentrate on her studies and become a doctor." The series will deal with how those desires might conflict with Kamala's new role as Ms. Marvel.
The idea for the series came about as a result of Amanat telling another Marvel editor, Steve Wacker, about her experience growing up as a Muslim-American. The two recruited comic book writer G. Willow Wilson, who is herself a converted Muslim. The team says that they were inspired by the lack of female superheroes, especially ones with a specific cultural identity. They are anticipating a bit of a backlash, both from people who are Anti-Muslim and Muslims who are upset with the way the character is portrayed. However, they hope that people of all genders and ethnicities will be able to identify with Kamala, whose story Wilson says is about "the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are."
Kamala's presence in the comic book genre is important, as it marks another significant step forward in creating characters that are diverse and that reflect the experiences of people from different walks of life. We've seen Marvel's comic books steadily become more diverse, giving the female X-Men the spotlight in a recent series, adding many ethnically diverse characters to the roster of the Mighty Avengers, and new series' for She-Hulk and Elektra debuting next year, and of course, creating Miles Morales as an alternate-universe Spider-Man. However, while the books have been praised for becoming more inclusive, Marvel's film and television output seems to only reflect the same white, male figures that have dominated comic book culture for so long.
Therefore, we're hesitant to believe that Ms. Marvel is likely to make the jump to the silver screen even if her books become popular. After all, despite the recent renaissance of superhero films, Marvel and DC have yet to offer up a film lead by a female or minority superhero, despite fans — and even some of their stars, like Thor's Natalie Portman — asking for them. The only major female superhero presence in the films currently is Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, who, despite playing a significant role in the Avengers series, is still relegated to supporting her male collages in films like Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
If DC or Marvel do manage to make a female-led superhero film, the two most obvious choices would be Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel, two popular and culturally significant heroes. It would be easier to attract audiences to those movies than it would be for them to entice movie-goers to see a film about Ms. Marvel, even if she manages to have the same kind of popularity, but no progress has been made on translating wither property into a summer blockbuster, which lowers the chances that someone would be willing to take a chance on turning Kamala's series into a film. Until the company becomes convinced that even their most well-known female superheroes are going to rake it in at the box office, there's no way that they would be willing to take the chance on a newer, untested property.
Another factor that would likely prevent Kamala and Ms. Marvel from hitting theaters is the unpleasant reaction of comic book fans any time someone puts forth the idea of one of the superheroes not being white. When Marvel decided to reboot the Spider-Man film franchise in 2010, there was a massive fan uproar over the idea the rumors that Donald Glover might play Peter Parker, with many citing the comic books as the reason the character couldn't be played by a black actor. Even after Miles Morales was added to the series in 2011, there was still a significant backlash over the idea that Spider-Man would no longer be the angsty, white teenager that fans had become accustomed to. Most recently, there has been a great deal of online complaints over rumors of a possible Fantastic Four reboot starring Fruitvale Station star Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm.
Although films like X-Men have featured minority actors, they have always been in minor or supporting roles. Anthony Mackie's take on The Falcon will be featured in the next Captain America film, but, like Black Widow, will only be present as a supporting player. There have been rumors and attempts to create features based around minority superheroes, like the Black Panther, but the conversation surrounding them seems to die down relatively quickly, and if studios are unwilling to take the chance on a male minority superhero, they will be even more resistant to the idea of a female one, which again diminishes the chances of ever seeing the new series made into a film.
Despite the major cultural significance of creating a series around a Muslim, female superhero, there's still a great deal of room for improvement when it comes to turning such a property into a film. Comic books were designed as a way to empower and encourage those who were "different" by showing them people who reflected themselves doing extraordinary, heroic things, and so Marvel's desire to continue that tradition should be applauded. However, their films and television shows are able to reach a much larger audience than their comic books are, and so the lack of female or minority presence is still disappointing. Hopefully, the new Ms. Marvel series will sell well, which will encourage the company to take a chance on adapting it, allowing her story to reach a wider audience of people who will identify with Kamala's struggles. Just becuase it seems unlikely for Kamala to make the jump to film now, it doesn't mean that it's totally impossible, and we're hoping that one day kids will be as excited to see the new Ms. Marvel movie as they are for Thor 2.
British boxer Amir Khan has escaped serious injury following a car crash in America. The fighter was forced to cancel a training session on Wednesday (06Nov13) after the collision with an alleged drunk driver.
Posting the news of his road drama on Instagram.com, Khan wrote, "Hit by a drunk driver on the way to the gym. Police are here and arrested the man. Back neck hurts. He hit us while we was (sic) parked full speed. No sparring or gym today."
Khan is currently in training in the hopes of landing a fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Russell Brand has sparked fresh speculation he is in a new relationship following his split from Jemima Khan. The funnyman/actor was attending an intimate event hosted by news website The Huffington Post in London on Monday (04Nov13) when he confirmed he has a new romance.
Brand, who split from socialite Khan in September (13), told a packed crowd on the evening, "I'm in a relationship at the moment."
The Get Him to the Greek star did not reveal his new love's identity.
Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has been forced to apologise to his neighbours after a horde of devotees gathered outside his house to wish the actor a happy birthday. Khan, who turned 48 on Saturday (02Nov13), was stunned to find a crowd of fans waiting on his doorstep in Mumbai, India to celebrate the star's birthday.
However, the enthusiastic audience reportedly disturbed his neighbours and Khan took to Twitter.com to apologise on their behalf, writing, "Thank you everyone. All who came outside the house with crackers and posters. Love to you all and apologies to the neighbours. Your love makes me happy."
Getty/David M. Benett
If you're a theater nerd, a Star Wars fanatic, or both, we've got some good news and some bad news for you. Ewan McGregor is set to make his Broadway debut in a revival of Tom Stoppard's play, The Real Thing... but it doesn't open until next year. McGregor will take on the leading role of Henry, a playwright who finds his life beginning to imitate his art when an affair causes turmoil in his marriage as he's attempting to mount his own production about a marriage on the verge of collapse. So far, McGregor is the only actor confirmed for the production, but the team behind The Real Thing will have plenty of time to find the right people to round out the cast.
Although The Real Thing is his Broadway debut, McGregor has starred in numerous productions in London, most notably as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and as Iago in Othello, opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor. He also plays Bill Fordham, the son-in-law of Meryl Streep's abrasive matriarch in the upcoming film adaptation of Tracy Letts' play August: Osage County. His past theater credits are a good sign that McGregor will not only be adept at tackling Stoppard's monologues and philosophical discussions, but also that he won't be intimidated by the shadows cast by Roger Rees and Jeremy Irons, who have played Henry in the past.
The Real Thing was originally scheduled to be part of the Roundabout Theater's spring season, but has been pushed back for an October 2014 opening. It will have a limited run at the American Airlines Theater, where it will close in 2015. McGregor has plenty of film projects to satisfy fans in the meantime — he's currently filming Mortdecai with Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow, and August: Osage County opens in theaters on Christmas Day.
Pop star Lily Allen stepped back into the spotlight on Thursday (31Oct13) by dressing as an alien and performing with fellow Brit Robbie Williams to raise cash for Syrian refugees at a Halloween charity event. The Smile hitmaker, who has been on hiatus since 2010, donned green body paint, a green sequinned dress, and green leopard print tights to attend the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) moneyraiser.
She and former Take That star Williams performed a duet together before mingling with other star guests, including model Jodie Kidd and socialite Jemima Khan, at the event in London.
Actor Ewan McGregor, a UNICEF ambassador, also joined Williams for a surprise rendition of his hit track Angels.
Meanwhile, other stars were enjoying a scary night out at the annual Halloween house party thrown by TV presenter Jonathan Ross.
Nicole Scherzinger dressed as Catwoman for the bash, Simon Pegg revisited his hit movie Shaun of the Dead to pose as a blood-soaked zombie, and Kate Moss and her rocker husband Jamie Hince arrived as Mexican 'Day of the Dead' dolls.
Ross holds a star-studded Halloween party every year at his north London home.
British boxing champ Amir Khan is set to become a first-time father. The 26-year-old Olympian and his wife Faryal have announced they are expecting a baby, just five months after they married in a lavish ceremony in New York City.
Khan tells The Sun on Sunday, "It's still early days but we're both very excited and can't wait to be parents. Our families are delighted and we're blessed to have their support and guidance."
Khan proposed to the American beauty in 2011 with a $160,000 (£107,000) diamond ring.
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan is hoping to add sports entrepreneur to his resume - he wants to buy his own soccer team. The sports-loving actor plans to buy a club in India to encourage local youngsters to get involved in the game.
He tells India's Independent News Service (IANS), "If I can afford to, I will definitely (buy a team). I have the love for sport and if it will be for sport, youth and charitable angle, I will definitely do that... We play football matches for charity. At home, we play football with kids almost daily."
British producer Naughty Boy emerged victorious at the U.K.'s Music of Black Origin Awards (MOBOs) on Saturday (19Oct13) after taking home two top honours. The songwriter, real name Shahid Khan, earned prizes for Best Song and Best Video for his hit track La La La featuring Sam Smith.
Soul singer Laura Mvula also celebrated after beating off competition from Jessie J, Jessie Ware, Lianne La Havas and Rita Ora to win Best Female Act, while she was also named Best R&B/Soul Act.
U.K. rapper Wiley attended the 2013 ceremony in Glasgow, Scotland as a multiple nominee, but he walked away with just one award, for Best Male Act.
The annual event featured performances from acts including Tinie Tempah, Rudimental and Iggy Azalea.
The full list of winners at the 2013 MOBO Awards, are as follows:
Best Newcomer: Krept and Konan
Best Male Act: Wiley
Best Female Act: Laura Mvula
Best Video: La La La by Naughty Boy
Best UK Hip Hop/Grime: Tinie Tempah
Best Album: Home by Rudimental
Best R&B/Soul Act: Laura Mvula
Best Song: La La La by Naughty Boy
Best International Act: Kendrick Lamar
Best African Act: Fuse ODG
Best Jazz Act: Sons Of Kemet
Best Gospel Act: Lurine Cato
Best Reggae Act: Sean Paul.
Hollywood actor Ewan Mcgregor is set to host a moneyspinning event for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to raise cash for youngsters in Syria. The actor will be teaming up with stars including singer Robbie Williams, actor Sir Roger Moore, and model Claudia Schiffer for The Halloween Ball, an invitation-only event with a spooky twist.
The Moulin Rouge! star, who has supported UNICEF since 2004, insists the ball will play an important role in raising funds to provide essential supplies for children suffering in the war-torn country.
In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, he says, "As it stands today, there are more than one million child refugees and more than three million children needing urgent help inside Syria; the situation for them is critical. UNICEF is working day and night to provide clean water, vaccinations, education, and psychological support to those children.
"Once again, I find myself in absolute admiration hearing about incredibly courageous individuals, putting their lives at risk to help save the lives of children. However, the essential supplies are running low; the Halloween Ball will play a very important role in raising the vital missing funds UNICEF needs, and only with that support will UNICEF have a good chance of reaching every child."
The star has also taken to Twitter.com to share his excitement over the event, writing, "Looking forward to UNICEF U.K. Halloween Ball for Syria's children."
The ball will take place in London location on 31 October (13).