I Need a Hero (Like Me)

7buffy018Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outsmart Sherlock Holmes was the first fictional character to ever grab my attention.  Her daring and cunning to take on the most clever of men was inspirational, and aspirational, for a fifth grader.  Middle school introduced me to the driven, though deeply flawed, heroine Scarlett O’Hara, and the ever assertive Jane Eyre.  I went to high school, and even college, with Buffy Summers.  (Only one of us actually graduated, but she did save the world…a lot.)

Recent years have given us even more strong female leads to choose from.  From television to movies to books, the likes of Veronica Mars, Hermione Granger, and so many more have given a new face to strength, independence, and brilliance.

But so many of these characters, as much as I love them, are still different from me.   They don’t look like me.  They don’t always talk like me.  And they definitely don’t believe in the same things as I do.  I would’ve liked to have seen a major character deal with the same struggles of culture, identity, and faith as I did.  Aside from the real life examples of strong females that my mother and big sister provided me, I had yet to find that.

Ms.-Marvel-2014-001-000Enter Ms. Marvel, the first Muslim American of South Asian descent superhero.  When she was announced last year, the appreciation of this storytelling choice flooded the internet.  Which proved that I wasn’t the only one looking for that connection.  The well received first edition featuring Kamala Khan was released at the beginning of the year.

I don’t know how Kamala’s story will play out but I am excited about the precedent it sets.  I’m excited that women like G. Willow Wilson and Sana Amanat are leading the charge.  And it’s so perfect that comic books is where it’s happening, the home of everyone who has ever felt a little different.

Vulture posted a great interview with G. Willow Wilson  yesterday.  And Sana Amanat just gave a Tedx talk that I felt like I could’ve given myself.   I looked for women and stories like these growing up.  But I guess, then, so did they.  I’m glad one of us did something about it.


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