‘Ms. Marvel’: Rish Shah on Kamran’s Journey and Newfound Powers
“Kamran’s felt lost his entire life...But I think Kamala genuinely makes him feel like [he's home].”
By the end of Marvel Studios’ Ms. Marvel there’s not just one but two super powered kids out there in Jersey City: both Kamala Khan and the cute new boy in school who’s actually a Clandestine, Kamran, can harness the Noor energy.
“I had read the comics and I'm a huge fan,” Rish Shah tells Marvel.com. “So when I found out [I was playing Kamran] I was like, ‘Do I get to have powers? Is that still happening?’ I remember internally screaming, and trying to be really cool, and not freak out.”
Whoa, whoa, before Kamran can actually get those powers, he’s got to go on his own journey of self-discovery, too, just like Kamala. His story has as many twists and turns, and as Kamala learns the Clandestines, Kamran included, are just trying to get back to their own dimension — and the only way they can do that is with Kamala’s bangle.
Right from the onset, Kamran opposes his mother, Najma, forcefully trying to take Kamala’s bangle but she’s too strong and powerful for him. When Kamran chooses to protect both Kamala and Bruno Carrelli when the Clandestines attack, it creates a rift between the mother and son, and one that’s not easily repaired.
It might be a tough decision, but Shah knows Kamran made the right choice for him and his future.
“I think it’s rooted in the fact that he just wants to belong,” he reflects. “Kamran’s felt lost his entire life, despite following the Clandestines around on their mission to return home to the Noor dimension. He's been told you don't belong here. But I think Kamala genuinely makes him feel like he does.”
Shah goes on to explain that one of his favorite moments in the season is when Kamala notes that maybe Jersey City can feel like home to Kamran one day. “I think that really strikes a chord with him, because he's like, oh wow, finally maybe I can fit in. So when everything unfolds the way in which it does and he makes that decision to betray his family to protect her and, in doing so, protect himself, his world falls apart.”
Because of Kamran’s choice to go against his family, Najma makes her own choice, too, and leaves her son behind while the rest of the Clandestines travel to Pakistan to try and retrieve the bangle. However, that plan fails and Najma is killed — but not before she’s able to transfer her own Noor energy to Kamran halfway around the world. Suddenly overcome with powers he doesn’t know how to control, let alone harness, Kamran find himself struggling again with his own identity, and as Shah explains, Kamran “feels like he’s back at square one.”
“[Identity] is something that's so close to all of us within the show, and for me personally. I can really relate to where Kamran's coming from in that sense of wanting to feel secure and safe within his own identity.”
But all that’s shattered when, unsure how to react to what’s happening around him, Kamran lashes out letting his jagged hard light destroy everything in its path. “There's kind of a warped moral compass within Kamran, when he has these newfound powers and these abilities. He doesn't know how to handle it and how to react. I think that's probably part of the chaos of it and him not being able to control himself because on top of all of that, he's just found out that his family is gone.”
On top of that, the one person Kamran trusted was Kamala — but, he now feels betrayed by his friend knowing that she was there when his mother died. However, Kamala is Kamala and she’s going to do whatever she can to help her hurting friend, even if that means putting herself in harm’s way, too. After battling with Damage Control agents both inside and outside the high school, Kamala tries to reason with her friend (and crush) inside a protective hard light bubble. Kamran laments that there’s no way he will ever feel normal again, to which Kamala replies, “there is no normal.”
“Kamala saying to him, ‘there is no normal,’ and that being an homage to the first issue of the [MS. MARVEL] comics was something that I think is beautiful and made a lot of sense,” Shah adds. It also clearly strikes a chord with Kamran, who realizes that Kamala is right. He can’t let his newfound powers get the better of him and agrees to turn to the Red Daggers for help, even though the group is the sworn enemy of the Clandestines.
“It obviously is a big decision,” Shah continues. “But I think it's coming from a place of wanting to take control of his own mental state, and hopefully calm down, and also being able to control these powers.”
By the end of the season, Shah hopes that viewers might be able to see themselves in Kamran, adding, “I think what's beautiful is Kamala in the show is taking someone who in the comics is a villain and subverts that, and makes him someone that young kids, and not just brown kids, but young kids can look up to and be like, oh yeah, I see myself in him, and he is a hero.”
As for what’s next, Shah has no idea but he’s excited by the possibilities as to what the Red Daggers and the future hold for Kamran.
“I think it's really cool that that's where he ends up because there's just so much scope for these characters. All of them, within the MCU, and within Kamala's journey and her story. I think it definitely solidifies in my mind that he's not a bad guy.”
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