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"February 2020. I get the Whatsapp forwarded [by my aunt]," recounted Iman Vellani, who plays Ms Marvel, about the first time she had heard of the role.
"I thought it was a scam."
It would appear that even the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't exempt from the ubiquitous threat of scams, given that Vellani herself thought the casting call was a scam. But she had a good reason to.
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"I didn't know what casting calls look like. But they are not white pages that say 'Ms Marvel - Disney+. Attach headshot and resume here!' So it turned out to be real," Vellani laughed during a press conference for Ms Marvel.
Ms Marvel is the latest MCU entry on Disney+. It depicts the adventures of the Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager who is a fangirl of the Avengers — and all things superhero-related. However, when she discovers a magical bangle, she finds she can create hard light constructs and harness cosmic energy, thus becoming the titular superheroine. She is also set to return in 2023's The Marvels, alongside Captain Marvel and Monica Rambeau (whom we last saw in WandaVision).
The 6-episode series debuts on 8 June.
Vellani received the casting call in the final year of high school, the year when she was turning 18 (the actress turns 20 this year). "I sent in a very academic resume and the one photo I had of myself," she said. But when they sent back the instructions for the audition, she "knew exactly which comic books they pulled them from, and I was like okay. This is real."
Then reality hit.
"I can't do it," she thought back then. "I was making excuses for myself out of fear of failure." Vellani ended up sending her auditions and got a response two days later to fly to L.A. for an audition. "I was like, I have a Math test. But okay!"
But fly Vellani did, and she eventually clinched the role of Ms Marvel. "I got cast on the last day of high school."
For all students who have lived through the pain of Zoom lessons, cancelled CCAs and home-based learning, Vellani hears you — she's also a pandemic graduate. "Graduating was not fun during COVID. I graduated in 2020."
While Vellani plays the cosmic-powered Ms Marvel in the series, what powers would Vellani want in real life?
"I want telepathy, get inside a few people's minds," Vellani mused as she referenced Professor X, the mutant leader of the X-Men.
In the early 2000 X-Men movies, Professor X is shown to be the world's most powerful telepath (and capable of killing every mutant with the help of Cerebro in X2), at least until Phoenix shows up in X-Men: The Last Stand. He was still just as powerful in the prequel movies, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix. He also most recently appeared in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.
Wait, does that mean we might get to see Professor X in Ms Marvel?
Ms Marvel debuts 8 June on Disney+.