With much buzz around Muslim superhero, Ms Marvel, maybe hitting the silver screen in the near future, you may be excited to find out that there is a female comic superhero living much closer to home.
Marvel’s Kamala Khan’s heritage is that of a daughter of Pakistani immigrants who moved to New Jersey in America, however, one local Emirati artist has created a character that is more relevant to modern Arab culture in the UAE.
Emara, the creation of director and comic artist, Fatma Almheiri, is a female superhero who fights crime on the streets of the UAE. The artist tells CNN’s Inside the Middle East, “Emara is the superhero I wanted growing up that I didn’t get to have. I think the world is thirsty for an Arab superhero and I think we need to quench that thirst fast.”
Emirati Almheiri spoke about how she grew up watching a number of cartoons but none had any representation of people that looked like her and through creating Emara, she aims to challenge misrepresentations of the Middle East and Arab women, “I made sure to give Emara little bits and pieces of how life is here.”
On appearance, Emara is modestly dressed, in long trousers, gloves, a tunic and, most importantly a hijab, “I wanted Emara to dress modestly because I think that specific character, especially as a main character, is missing,” she told CNN. “There are no hijabi main characters, especially not in a superhero cartoon or comic.”
Speaking of Muslim superheroes, the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, told the BBC early on this year that the world may be meeting Ms Marvel sooner than we think! “Ms. Marvel… is definitely sort of in the works. We have plans for that once we’ve introduced Captain Marvel to the world,” he said.
The story of Ms Marvel is focused on coming of age, understanding her Muslim identity, culture and society as well as her parents – whilst maintaining her super powers.
Fatma Almheiri states that Ms Marvel is a positive step towards wider representation of Muslim women, and hopes that Marvel Studios will continue to create similar superheroes going forward, and told CNN, “If I could send Marvel a message, [it would be] great job with Ms. Marvel but can we also have an Arab superhero preferably a woman,” she told CNN. “I’ll take whatever you give me, but we’d love an Arab superhero character, please.”
Fatma Almheiri shares the adventures of Emara on Instagram and previously set about working on an animated series in 2016!