The Marvels star Iman Vellani on how Marvel can get back on top: “What’s left?”

Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' MS. MARVEL, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved.
Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in Marvel Studios' MS. MARVEL, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2022. All Rights Reserved. /

The Marvels is on its way to becoming the lowest-grossing movie in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s a shame for someone like Iman Vellani, who stars in the movie as Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel. Even people who were lukewarm on the movie itself praised her winning performance as the eager young superhero.

Before she joined the MCU, Vellani was a Marvel superfan. “I’m still there every Thursday night,” she told The Direct. “Like all the Thursday night openings of these movies—they’re just like a source of happiness for me. And the commercial success honestly doesn’t determine the enjoyment of a film for me. Like I judge a movie by the feeling it left me with. And yeah, I do want to leave a movie feeling a little lighter and a little happier, and I hope the audience does, too.”

As someone who’s been on both sides of the equation — fan and insider — does Vellani have any ideas about how to get people excited about the MCU again? “[I]t’s just about making the audience care about their characters,” she said. “I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s about just getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Because then, like, what’s left? You know, I think it’s just about making the audience care about their characters. And I think they’ve established so many wonderful characters in the last phase of the MCU that it would be nice to see them all again and see them team up.”

"I think, because there are so many new characters people want to like, start shipping people together and be like, ‘Oh, seeing Kamala and like the Red Guardian together.’ Like imagining all these pair-ups, and I think that would definitely pay off. It’ll be like, you know, the next Avengers."

I’m going to assume she meant “shipping” as in seeing these characters team up to fight baddies, not…something else.

In any case, Vellani still believes in Marvel, even if she can’t watch the movies in quite the same unspoiled way she used to. “Every single person that works at Marvel Studios is genuinely a fan and so in love with their craft and in love with their job,” she said. “And I think that dedication to their work is what makes a good, if not great, movie. So I’ve gotten to meet a lot of really cool people. Yes, it’s like kind of ruined.”

Loki creator will write the next two Avengers movies

Obviously Marvel is forging ahead, although they may start rethinking how they do things in the wake of recent failures. We can see them shifting the deck chairs now. For instance, Deadline reports that Marvel has hired Michael Waldron — the creator of Loki and the writer of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — to write the next two Avengers movies:  Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars. Previously, he was only going to write Secret Wars.

Waldron makes sense for those projects, I think. Loki is one of the better Marvel TV shows and he demonstrated a deft hand when it came to multiversal mayhem with the second Doctor Strange movie. Still, the next couple of Avengers movies have hurdles to jump. Jonathan Majors is supposed to play the villain Kang, but he’s been beset by scandal and it’s unclear how Disney is going to handle that.

Also, Destin Daniel Cretton has been removed as the director of next Avengers movies so he can focus on the other Marvel stuff he’s working on, like the sequel to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. We don’t know who’s replacing him yet. Like I said, Marvel is moving things around. We’ll see where they end up.

Watch a behind-the-scenes look at Agatha: Darkhold Diaries

Closer in time, Marvel is prepping a series about Agatha Harkness, the wicked witch from WandaVision played by Kathryn Hahn. It’s called Agatha: Darkhold Diaries and Marvel just released a behind-the-scenes look at it. Check it out:

Agatha: Darkhold Diaries is expected to drop on Disney+ sometime late in 2024.

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