Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

May 28, 2015 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily’s editorial board.

All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.







420 Maynard St.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Edited and managed by students at

the University of Michigan since 1890.


Thursday, May 28, 2015
The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com


y eight month campaign
of the ’14-’15 school year is
over. At times like these, I

undoubtedly think

workouts for my
high school base-
ball team. Asking our coach why we
were sweating so hard five months
before the season began, he respond-
ed confidently: “If you ever want to be
great, you have to work even harder in
the off-season.”

I remember thinking that statement

was so lame, so cliché. However, I’m not
sure anything has contributed more to
me trying to become a “person of let-
ters” — carrying a pencil around under
the sun, reading and writing all day.

I figure you can make some excep-

tions though. I still need friends to
work with, and we need a spot to
work, quote unquote, the hangout
spot. Through the first month of sum-
mer, the spot has been Bandemer Park
on the river. Why? Because it’s gor-
geous. It’s everything you dreamed of
throughout all 13 months of February.

Hear me out:
You can drive here, but we don’t.

My friends pick me up on Division.
My house is the last stop. They walk
as a big group — 11 or 12 people — but
not as a large cluster, more like three
groups of three or four. I like to mean-
der from one to the other so I can hear
everyone’s voice at least once. They all

sound so young. Each group develops its
own train of thought. One group will be
amidst a heated debate over which res-
taurant has the best falafel pita: Jerusa-
lem Garden or Pita Kabob. I’m partial
to the latter. Another might be taking
collective shots at Teddy Cruz and the
lunacy of his Tea Party constituents
while the third might be having the
more dire panel discussion over what
the best Spike Jonze movie is. I try to
drop a one-liner joke before departing
every verbal hurrah for the next.

“Being John Malkovich? More like

being Eli Sparkman, am I right or am
I right?”

We cross the train tracks. I can do

five steps in a row walking along a rail
before losing my balance. We walk
along the Argo trail on the west side of
the river. It’s the nature zone. Friends
who are Program in the Environment
majors point at every tree and tell me
its name in Latin. I smile and nod and
confuse the names for one another.
It’s perfect. I usually see a frog or two.
There’s this light, muddy clay-colored
one I see the most. I like to think it’s
the same frog every time. I named him
Roger because I’m a little more ironic
than I should be.

Things are beginning to open up:

a parking lot to the left, a bench and
more trail to the center and the dock
on the right. There are bikers in their
undeniably lame looking spandex,
bicycle gear. They sport helmets. They


grew up admiring super-
heroes. My first roller
coaster was based on The


first PG-13



many of my
were spent
Batman cartoons. Even today,
most people who know me well
know I’m a Batman fanatic.
Throughout the years, though,
I could never truly admire the
female superheroes or villains
presented to me.

Though there were times

when I thought the female
characters were more interest-
ing or more fun to watch, they
were simply never as visible in
the cartoons, and later in the
movies. Every time a female
character was presented to me,
I wanted to love them, I really
did, but I was always put off
by their skin-tight costumes
that I could never see myself
wearing or their stories that
always revolved around men.
They always looked like cheap
knock-offs of their male coun-
terparts. Superman was cooler
than Wonder Woman. Batman
was cooler than Catwoman,
and the Joker was creepier
than Harley Quinn.

In comics, I found the


superhero, but they were also

Really, a burka-wearing super-

woman named Dust whose
power is to turn herself into a
cloud of sand? So in class last
semester when I was told we
were going to read Ms. Mar-
vel — a Marvel comic based on
a Pakistani-American super-
hero — I was a bit skeptical. A
Muslim girl in a mainstream
comic book? Come on, what’s
the catch?

To my surprise, this story

was in no way a disappoint-
ment. While reading the comic,
I sat next to my mother, and I
pointed out to her all the simi-
larities: “Look, her parents are
speaking in Urdu to her.” The
comic book was well written,
not just as a representation of
a Pakistani-American Muslim,
but also as a relatable superher-
oine. Kamala Khan, with her
secret identity as a comic book
fangirl, struggles with her real
identity as a Muslim and a teen-
age girl. She
is similar to
the teenage
as she is a
little geeky
and doesn’t
quite fit in


a female superhero, she makes
the choice to wear a less reveal-
ing costume, as it fits with her
personal identity better.

Though her character is a

female and a minority whose
story does not revolve around
a man, it doesn’t put a dent in
her popularity. In fact, it com-
pliments it. Ms. Marvel is one
of Marvel’s best-selling comic

books and is sitting well with
fans as people relate to the
familiarity of her struggles
with her identity.

As Marvel and DC “experi-

ment” with diverse characters,
one thing seems clear: charac-
ters from diverse backgrounds
are as marketable as any other
character when they’re well
written. As readers and writers
question whether diversifying
characters will detract from
their stories, the real question
is why not have superheroes
living with others in a world
as diverse as the world around
us? The rebooted Ms. Marvel
as a woman of color attracts an
audience without needing to
be objectified in any way, and
more power to her.

Despite the popularity of

this version of Ms. Marvel,
whether a character as “wildly”
diverse as her would ever make

it to the big


doubt will





tation in movies, I’m usually
disappointed. But maybe I’m

the original secret identities,
or personas, of the superhe-
roes are usually used, and most
of the original or mainstream
characters are white and male.
Much of the problem is that
instead of bringing characters
that are already diverse to the

An homage to the Huron

Their own heroes

forefront, or creating new superheroes,
the characters in the comics are just
temporarily rebooted.

Then, every time the movies are

rebooted, these companies are faced
with a choice between choosing
between the character’s more main-
stream persona and the newer, diver-
sified persona, and they tend to stick
with the original. Yet, if a comic book
heroine that’s already diverse has
become popular, why not make a movie
about her? Why are these companies
able to trust their readers with diver-
sity, but not their movie audience?

My hope is that these movies, as

well every other superhero movie,
has dynamic female characters so
that young girls and boys can grow
up without constantly finding weak
female characters. No more Mary
Jane, damsels in distress. No more
finding Sue Storm naked in public
two movies in a row. No more making
superhero movies with hyper-sexual-
ized female characters meant only to
appeal to men.

We know when you add a token

female or a token minority into your
story just to say you tried, but the

truth is we also can see when you do
not. That is why female superhero
movies have flopped in the past. We
want more real superheroes from
diverse backgrounds, but that means
putting real thought into their stories.

For anyone looking for strong

female characters in superhero mov-
ies, we might be getting what we
wanted. DC plans on releasing a
Wonder Woman movie in 2017, and
Marvel is planning on releasing a Cap-
tain Marvel movie in 2018. However,
Kamala Khan will not be the persona
because they are using the identity of
Carol Danvers, who is white. This may
be a logical choice considering that
she’s an older and possibly more estab-
lished identity, but maybe if Kamala
Khan was given a separate identity
instead of living in the shadows of a
past identity, she could one day make
it to theaters or be featured in a

television series.

Maybe one day, diverse heroes

will be good enough to truly be their

own heroes.

— Rabab Jafri can be reached

at rjafri@umich.edu



Why not have

superheroes living

with others in a world
as diverse as the world

around us?

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan