Ms. Marvel director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy teases how Kamalas about to become the “superhero she should be”

Warning: This article contains spoilers from Ms. Marvel episode 4.

Ms. Marvel only has two episodes remaining on Disney Plus – and Kamala Khan is in plenty of danger. The newly-minted superhero was last seen being chased through Karachi by the evil ClanDestine before she ended up thrown back into the past. The tense cliffhanger sets up an interesting trajectory for Kamala in the remainder of the season as she learns more of her family’s history – and what this means for her future.

Total Film sat down with Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who directed Ms. Marvel episodes 4 and 5 about what will happen next in the show. We also chatted about portraying Karachi, filming the epic fight sequences, and how the series connects to the wider MCU. Here’s our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Total Film: The ending to episode 4 sets up such an interesting change of pace for Ms. Marvel. Is there anything you can tease about what’s coming ahead?

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: I can only tell you what you’ve already seen! But what I can say is Kamala is on this adventure to find out where she comes from and what the source of her power is. Every place she goes to in Karachi, every conversation that she has with her grandmother, with Waleed, and with the Red Dagger helps to piece together her story and her identity. And I think Partition is a part of that.

The series has already been praised for its telling of Partition stories, and it seems like we’re about to get some more of that in episode 5. How have you found the response to this so far? 

I grew up listening to stories of Partition from my grandparents and it is something that we rarely see on the big screen. It’s a story that is deeply personal for families and so, when we were talking about Kamala coming into Partition, it was very important for me to have her bear witness to the conversations that people on the platform were having as they were leaving. I drew these from oral historical testimonies – she is overhearing friends; a father and a son; a mother and a daughter. In that moment, she’s Kamala Khan, who is feeling the pain and the anguish of what our forefathers felt in 1947. I think it’s so important in the 75th anniversary of the Indian Subcontinent Partition to be telling the story to a whole new audience and to talk about the pain and trauma of that land.

As you mentioned, a lot of the show so far has been about Kamala trying to come to terms with who she is and her heritage. Are we going to kind of see any shifts heading into the end of the series, or are we going to still be embracing that journey?

Kamala is going to be really trying to become the superhero she should be. In this journey of emulating superheroes who don’t look like her, I think that she is finding her voice and truly believing that she too can be a superhero. Waleed and the order of the Red Dagger play a critical role in that because for the first time on her journey, she understands that there are others like her who have a higher calling, who are protecting the world order, who are protecting the world as it exists. So I think that her journey to Karachi is teaching her a lot about her role in this big world, and why it’s important for her to have these vows.

Ms. Marvel

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Speaking of Karachi, what did you want to achieve in your depiction of the city for viewers who maybe haven’t seen that part of the world on screens before?

Karachi is my hometown. It’s the streets that I walk every day, and to be able to visualize it for the first time in the manner that it should be visualized is truly special. I come from a city with vibrant colors, a rich history, a legacy of textiles and food, and where our buses and our vehicles have hand-painted murals on them. So I wanted to show Karachi through my eyes. I wanted Kamala to experience that and take audiences with her who would be unfamiliar with this part of the world. The minute that she lands in Karachi and the door opens to the drums, the rose petals, and the hullabaloo of the airport – that is authentic to Karachi. You often find that you have stories set in parts of the world where the storytellers aren’t from. But, I’m from here so what I bring with me is something completely different than someone else who is not connected to this world.

The color and vibrancy of Karachi also seems to match Kamala’s interior life that we’ve seen through the series so far.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s a part of her, it’s a reflection of who she is. And now you’re finally seeing where that comes from when she lands in Karachi and she’s out and about in that world.

I also wanted to talk to you a bit about the fight sequences. How did you kind of go about directing these and did you draw on any specific influences from other films or shows?

Karachi is known for its car chases. So when we were thinking about what we wanted in this episode, I worked very closely with Gary Powell [second unit director and stunt coordinator] to design something that gave us the thrill of what it means to be on the streets in Karachi. There’s a family with like five people on a motorbike and pushcarts, trucks, buses, and Ching-chi – all of the vehicles that tell that story – and, of course, the vendors and the colors that come from the street. So I wanted to design it in a way that you really felt like you were running through the streets of Karachi with Kamala and the ClanDestine.

Ms. Marvel is Kamala’s story, but we’re also in the wider MCU, which is known for its interconnected nature. Is that something that you were excited to be involved in?

We’re telling Kamala’s story and introducing her onto screens in the MCU with references to the 10 Rings, Ant-Man and all these things in the world of the MCU. We know how hardcore fans of the MCU are, and how connected that story is, so to put Kamala at the front and center of that, and connect that to the rest of the MCU, was extremely important.

Ms. Marvel airs on Disney Plus on Wednesdays. Check out our Ms. Marvel release schedule and episode guide to make sure you don’t miss a moment of the show. 

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