Iman Vellani Details Her X-Men Comics Writing Process

Finally, Iman Vellani can geek out publicly about going from Marvel fan to Ms. Marvel and The Marvels star to Marvel Comics writer.

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The actress and all around Marvel geek—who, unlike most Marvel geeks, has direct access to Marvel boss Kevin Feige—was a recent guest on Late Night with Seth Myers, where she talked about her jump into comic book writing for Kamala Khan, the character she plays in Ms. Marvel and The Marvels. In Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant, Vellani gets to pen the future of the character, who’s now dealing with her new status as dually an Inhuman and Mutant after her death and resurrection over the summer in the X-Men one-shot Hellfire Gala.

Speaking on the talk show, Vellani discussed getting into the right mindset for charting Kamala’s path in a universe with deep lore. “I needed to do a lot of X-Men research and I never really read those comics because they’re so intimidating. There’s a million of them,” she told Myers. “So I watched the X-Men ‘90s cartoon in the background. I had Grant Morrison’s New X-Men on my laptop. And then I was reading Jonathan Hickman’s new X-Men. It was so much X-Men all at once.”

Vellani also revealed this opportunity was supported by Marvel every step of the way. “It’s the most special thing ever. I can’t be on your show without bringing up Sana Amanat. She’s the reason this happened,” she said. “[Amanat] co-created the character and she made a couple of calls to Marvel editorial and forced them to let me write it. And I really don’t know what she said to them, but it’s real. And that’s my last name, which is so cool,” she said pointing to her name on the comic book cover. She added how surreal the learning experience was for her, including “how cool it is to receive art every morning,” she said.It’s either the most validating thing when they draw exactly what you wrote or you’re like, ‘Okay, maybe I need to fix my writing a little bit.’”

She also shared another huge, if unexpected, inspiration: Billy Joel. “Billy Joel’s River of Dreams is one of my favorite albums, my favorite song,” Vellani explained. “And he very much explores where we go. And I mean—it’s a play on stream of consciousness and dealing with our inner demons and finding yourself.” Joel’s music guided her as she worked through Kamala becoming the Mutant she was meant to be. “I think that’s a lot of what Kamala’s journey is. And [in] my book, she’s a Mutant now and that’s a whole new label that she has a has to adapt to… the entire world’s perspective kind of shifts on her. And now that she has this label, how she perceives herself has shifted. We literally put her in her own dreams and she has to fight off her fears and doubts.”

Watch the full the interview below!

The Marvels is out now in theaters and Ms. Marvel: The New Mutant is available in comic shops and online now.

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