One of the joys of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that it exists in a world much like our own. The Avengers deal with human problems like grief, trauma, and racism on top of their admittedly unrelatable task of saving everyone. The humanity of their stories, even when they’re not about humans at all, is what ensures their timelessness.
At this point, the most significant difference between the world within the Marvel universe and our world is incredibly meta. There’s no Marvel Universe within the Marvel Universe, so there’s no cultural phenomenon and huge fandom. But that could all change with Ms. Marvel — here’s how.
There are all sorts of discourse surrounding representation in the MCU — be it LGBTQ+, people of color, or portraying disabilities accurately. But the most popular label the Marvel audience has is that of “Marvel fan” — so why don’t we see representation of that on screen?
Marvel fans are certainly not a marginalized group, just the opposite, but not showing the same rabid speculation, glee, cosplay, and fan involvement that surrounds so much of its audience’s lives is a huge missed opportunity.
Enter Ms. Marvel, the story of a teenage Marvel fan who gets superpowers herself. We see Kamala Khan jotting down fanfiction ideas in a notebook in the latest trailer, and the show's plot sounds like a self-insert fanfiction in and of itself.
We’ve seen the Avengers' effects on culture, as every Spider-Man movie will prove. But within these contexts, they’re glorified as celebrities and heroes, like great world leaders. They get museum exhibits, Broadway musicals, and general fame.
Kamala Khan doesn’t see the Avengers as celebrities; she sees superhero characters who used to be the stuff of myth. Just look at her shirt in the trailer, a clearly fan-created design showing Wasp, Captain Marvel, and Valkyrie with the caption, “OK Ladies, Lets Get Information.” Not only does this mean Beyoncé is MCU canon, it means there’s a thriving fan community surrounding the Avengers.
Hopefully, through Kamala, we’ll see this strange mirror of Marvel fandom where love for the Avengers isn’t about picking up on Easter eggs and trying to decode actor interviews. But instead, Ms. Marvel shows a stan culture that more closely resembles the fanbases surrounding real public figures. It may be weird to think about, but this aspect of fandom will finally underline the cultural importance of the Avengers. It’s a perspective we’ve yet to see from the MCU.
After a decade of witnessing the Avengers creating their legacy, Ms. Marvel will show the effects of their actions from the outside in, pointing at how different the MCU’s world is because of them — and how that fanbase can be a new reflection of ours.
Ms. Marvel premieres on Disney+ June 8.