ISLAMABAD: Islamabad With the success of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, it is no surprise then that Marvel’s experiments with racially-diverse characters have ticked all the right boxes too -- be it in the form of African-American actor Zendaya as Mary Jane in ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’ or for its next venture featuring an Indian character, to be played by (hold your breath) Shah Rukh Khan.
And if all plans see the light of day, this will not be the first time that Marvel would have invested in characters with a South Asian origin. It’s been there, done that with Dust from Afghanistan, Enigma from Bangladesh and Miss Marvel aka Kamala Khan a Pakistani-American right out of New Jersey, to name a few.
Nevertheless, to have Shah Rukh Khan next on its radar did send the internet abuzz. “'I think in the next few years Marvel is going to try to create characters with a real toehold in Indian culture. My hope is that the fan in India feels just as much part of the Marvel universe as some kid in New York. If we make Indian content, we have to put Shah Rukh Khan. He has to be in it,” Stephen Wacker, Vice President of Creative Development for Marvel, said in comments to an Indian news channel.
Not one to be left behind, we decided to see which popular Pakistan actors would be the perfect fit for some of Marvel’s iconic characters. You know, just in case Wacker decides to look for talent beyond the border:
1. Bushra Ansari as Iron Man
With exceptional comic timing and a strength to boot, Bushra Ansari is known for her wide-ranging performances and brilliant delivery, making her the perfect choice to replace Robert Downey Jr as the iconic Avenger.
2. Shaan as Wolverine
They have a lot in common – they are both tough as nails with age-defying looks and a finesse to dodge all bullets aimed at them. None of this is foreign territory for veteran actor Shaan, who is known for his choice of action films.
3. Gohar Rasheed as Loki
Loki, is perhaps one of the most beloved anti-heroes whose flip-flopping and mischievous character lends a delightful twist to all Marvel films. No surprise then that Gohar Rasheed comes to mind to portray the character of Thor’s brother, especially since he can pull of the roles of a villain and a hero with equal ease.
4. Sabah Qamar as Black Widow
Her recent roles in the Qandeel Baloch inspired series ‘Baaghi,’ ‘Digest Writer’ and Bollywood’s ‘Hindi Medium’ has cemented her status as a star who can get under the skin of any character she takes on, making her unstoppable in her choice of roles. We say she is our perfect “Black Widow”.
5. Ahsan Khan as Cyclops
Cyclops, a mutant from the X-men universe, has been portrayed on the big screen by James Marsden and Tye Sheridan. For its Pakistani installment, Ahsan Khan -- with his classic good looks, boyish charm and do-good nature -- is a dead ringer for the job. Another role he could take on is that of Captain America’s Steve Rogers. Though the role has ‘America’ in the title, the melting pot of the west is really why diversifying such roles is the need of the hour, so why not?
6. Faysal Qureshi as Doctor Strange
Not the strangest idea, if you think about it. If there’s one thing Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the character has shown is that delivering a line while rocking drop-dead good looks can add to your superpowers -- two things Qureshi already has to his advantage.
7. Sajal Aly as Rogue
Say hello to this damsel in distress who can turn hero in the blink of an eyelid -- this drama serial queen would make for a fantastic Rogue (a mutant whose touch proves deadly with the capabilities of absorbing powers, energy and even the life of anyone she makes contact with). A staple of the Marvel universe, Rogue’s trek to hero-dome is one we think the talented Aly would have no issue carving into a character of her own.
8. Fawad Khan as Hulk
Hear us out before you turn green with rage – Khan is the perfect pick as he is equal parts intelligent and loyal, with an ability to morph into any character he portrays on screen. The role may be a far departure from what we’ve seen him act out before but his subtlety and ability to draw your attention (and also his excellent job at gaining weight for the upcoming Maula Jatt) prove that Khan as the iconic comic book character would be a smashing fit.
India will have a lot to celebrate if Shah Rukh does go on to become a Marvel superhero. But while that seems like a dream that's still distant, what's closer to home is the franchise's plans for Pakistan. In comments made recently, Marvel said that after 2019’s ‘Captain Marvel,’ plans are in place to adapt Miss Marvel (aka Kamala Khan), a Pakistani superhero, for the silver screen.
Only time will tell who will snag that coveted role.