WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE END OF “THE MARVELS”
While the mid-credits scene of “The Marvels” introduced some (technically) new faces to the MCU, the final minutes brought the return of another: Kate Bishop. It also pretty explicitly set up the Young Avengers‘ entrance into the MCU — something Iman Vellani, who stars in the film as Kamala Khan, considered “an honor” to be responsible for.
Yes, after several months of fan wishes and slowly introducing members across different projects, it seems the MCU might actually be gearing up to launch the new team as, in the very last scene of the film, Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Kamala Khan come face to face. Kamala has broken into Kate’s apartment to recruit her, Nick Fury-style.
Kamala even gives Kate nearly the exact same speech that Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) gave Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) way back in the post-credits sting of Iron Man, which officially kicked off the MCU in 2008. But for the record, no, Vellani didn’t consult her co-star for tips on how to deliver the speech. (She did spent a lot of her time with Jackson actually trying to get him to burst into his monologue from “Pulp Fiction,” but to no avail. “He likes when other people recite it to him,” she reveals).
In fact, the moment was filmed in additional photography, after all of her co-stars had wrapped on the film, because it almost didn’t make the movie at all.
“There was a version of it, I think, in the original script, but then they removed it not knowing if we were gonna film it,” Vellani explained to TheWrap. “So no, Sam was only there for like the first month of filming, so I did not get to ask him. But it’s fine, because I have seen Iron Man 1 an ungodly amount of times. Rewatched it again before we shot the scene, just to keep it fresh in there. I felt confident channeling my Nick Fury.”
Even so, Vellani was at least a little nervous. Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris were long since wrapped, and filming the scene was the first time Vellani had even met Steinfeld. But “Hailee was so cool about it,” Vellani recalls with a grin. So, she infused her nerves and her excitement directly into Kamala Khan.
“I think it’s so funny to think about her going to Kate Bishop’s apartment to break into it, sitting there on her couch for like, I want to say maybe five hours,” Vellani joked. “I think Kamala, like, she has a couple snacks hidden in her trench coat, you know, something under the hat. Because Kate Bishop’s coming from archery practice, superheroing, whatever. And Kamala is just like, memorizing her speech, thinking about when Nick Fury probably told her what it was like.”
For the record though, there is footage somewhere in the Marvel vaults of Kamala and Kate discussing more than just their potential team-up.
“We had like a longer, her and I like riffing and improv-ing. At one point Kate asks if I want to get some pizza with her as well,” Vellani reveals. “And I was, in real life, literally on the verge of tears because it was so cool that she said yes to being a part of my team! Yeah, it was very surreal all around, and so in character that I could still bring in some of the funniness to that scene and not just keep it as serious as Nick Fury.”
For now, it seems the earliest iteration of the team will be Kamala Khan, Kate Bishop and Cassie Lang, as Kamala coyly asks during the scene, “Did you know Ant-Man had a daughter?” But, for Vellani herself, Kate Bishop was her “top choice” to approach first.
The actress not only loved Steinfeld in the Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” but also has a deep appreciation for the Matt Fraction comic run the series was based on.
“I think, both of them being fans of their superheroes, [they] hold just being a superhero and heroism to a very high, romanticized expectation, I guess,” Vellani said.
“And I think they’re both kind of looking for a team-up. I think Kamala has just experienced a small version of this and she’s learned a lot from it. A lot of what not to do.”
She continued, “And if she was leader, what would she do differently? So it’s nice to see her kind of take matters into her own hands.”
Vellani feels certain that, within the Marvel universe, Kamala Khan has done a lot of prep work, from reading Ant-Man’s book, to listening to his podcast, and more, and is ready to put herself out there and help people, just like Kate.
“Kate Bishop is the perfect person to do it with,” she said. “Honestly, just me and Hailee, when we were talking for that little bit of time, it was nice! It was funny. I think we’re really good together. Not gonna lie.”
Alas, at this point, there is no Young Avengers group chat — yet. “This is the problem with not having social media, you see? People can’t slide into my DMs,” Vellani jokes.
But, beyond Hailee Steinfeld, Vellani has slowly started developing relationships with other young stars in the MCU. Last year, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” star Xochitl Gomez revealed to TheWrap that she and Vellani made time to grab dinner together, where they were able to “bond over being young, brown girls in the MCU and what that means.”
Vellani notes she’s also met Dominique Thorne, who made her debut as Riri Williams, a.k.a Ironheart, in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and very much wants to work with her. According to Vellani, Thorne “just exudes cool.” Plus, the Ironheart comics are what got Vellani into Ms. Marvel in the first place.
At the end of the day, Ms. Marvel being the one to bring together the young Avengers is only fitting.
“It would be really nice, because that’s just very surreal for me,” Vellani said. “I’m sure it is for a lot of the writers of those comics, to see their characters come to life. It must be surreal for Kevin [Feige], for all of them to see this thing kind of form, from 2008’s ‘Iron Man,’ to see where it is now.”
She continued, “They all not only inspired so many young people in real life, but young people in the MCU who want to be superheroes, who want to take on that mantle, who want to save the world, and help people with the powers that they’ve been given. It’s perfect, and Kamala just has this innate desire to want to help people and obviously she can’t do it alone. So it’s like the perfect setup.”
And of course, Vellani isn’t mad that the future of the MCU is looking pretty young, and led by women. It fits right in with a Hollywood year (albeit a stunted one, with the strikes) that found its biggest successes in movies like “Barbie” and Taylor Swift’s “Eras” concert film.
Vellani recalled looking up at a local theater display just days before talking with TheWrap, and seeing the poster for “The Marvels” immediately follow “Eras,” which was then followed by Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla.”
“Just to be on the same screen as like Taylor frickin’ Swift is is blowing my mind,” Vellani admitted. “And I’m so glad that content like this is out there, because it’s like, the world is in a weird place right now, and Hollywood’s at a weird place, and Marvel’s at a weird place so I think it’s just so great that we have good, not only female driven content, like fun content out there.”
She added, “It allows you, for just that two hours of escapism, to go in and enjoy something, and not worry about real life. Then hopefully you feel a little lighter and a little happier coming out of a film, and that’s honestly all we can ask for with ‘The Marvels,’ is it’s a good time. And I can guarantee that.”
“The Marvels” is now in theaters everywhere.
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