The arrival of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to Disney+ was promoted with the tagline '“'The Universe is Expanding.'”' The early original Marvel programming on the streaming service featured characters who were supporting character sin previous MCU films, including Wanda and Vision, the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki. Moon Knight was the first show centered around an all-new superhero to this world. Ms. Marvel will follow the same path as an on-screen Kamala Khan is initiated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Because of her popularity, there are already a great number of fans familiar with Ms. Marvel but what about her supporting cast? One key player in several of her stories is Kareem/Red Dagger. Created by writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Mirka Andolfo, Red Dagger crosses paths with the hero on several occasions in the comics so it’s no surprise that he will play a role in the upcoming Ms. Marvel streaming series.
Who Is Red Dagger?
Red Dagger, also known as Laal Khanjeer in his native Urdu, is an older teenager who hails from Badin, Pakistan. Comic book readers are first introduced to the character as a civilian named Kareem in Ms. Marvel #12 (2016) when Kamala goes to visit Karachi to unplug from being a superhero and reconnect with loved ones. Since his mother is good friends from secondary school with Kamala’s aunt, he is allowed to stay with the family to study for his university entrance exam.
When the sun goes down, mild mannered Kareem becomes the vigilante Red Dagger. Witnessing the rise in corruption and chaos in his city, along with many locals fleeing to greener pastures abroad, he feels obligated to help fix the problems of those who remain. He roams the streets to foil the plans of anyone causing trouble.
After Kamala returns to Jersey City, she thinks she has seen the last of the Pakistani hero. However, Kareem needs to fulfill his foreign language credits for his college applications and thinks perfecting his English as an exchange student in her hometown would be a great opportunity. It also allows him to take his crime fighting skills internationally but he finds the tables turned with him being the stranger on someone else’s turf.
Red Dagger’s Abilities
Red Dagger is a regular human and does not possess any superpowers. He stays in tip top shape which aids him on his long nights as a vigilante. You’ll often find him during the day either taking naps or drinking coffee to recuperate. He is quite agile, being able to navigate on the rooftops of a speeding train and has impressive parkour skills that he learns from watching YouTube videos.
In addition, Red Dagger is formidable in hand-to-hand combat in order to take down and fight off any crooks and is adept in using his namesake. He keeps several daggers strapped to his belt and is an excellent marksman throwing them with high accuracy.
Though not an ability per se, his free-flowing locks garner a lot of attention. When people in the United States first see Red Dagger in action, many are taken back by how stunning he looks, in particular his surfer hair.
Red Dagger’s Allies and Villains
Since his first appearance is in the Ms. Marvel comic, it’s safe to say the Inhuman is his biggest ally. They’ve fought bad guys on two continents and they have a very close but complicated relationship as both civilians and superheroes… although neither are aware of the other’s secret identity. Red Dagger even serves as a love interest and is her first kiss in Ms. Marvel #29 (2018). Furthermore, In Ms. Marvel #34 (2018), an alternate future shows the pair romantically together back in Pakistan.
Because of his proximity to Ms. Marvel, he has teamed up alongside several of her associates. When Jersey City’s protector takes a break from being a superhero, Red Dagger helps her friends Zoe Zimmer, Mike Miller, Nakia Bahadir, and Gabe Hillman fill the void and patrol the streets. When the situation becomes too big for the group to handle, they call in Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel to help against a dangerous threat.
Red Dagger predominantly works on the street level back in his native Pakistan, and his villains are local gangs and toughs terrorizing Karachi. He thwarts water cartels in the city looking to exploit the limited resource as well as the Khushkhati, a gang of contraband runners who use Urdu letters to mask their identities.
During his stay in the U.S., he clashes with several of Ms. Marvel’s rogues. Shortly after being released from prison, Dr. Henry Balthazar Knox goes back to his evil ways, this time imprisoning the elderly and using them as energy sources. Red Dagger serves as the de facto leader of Kamala’s friends showing them the ropes of being a hero as they confront the newly dubbed Inventor and his giant genetically and cybernetically enhanced animal minions.
Similarly, the sentient computer virus Doc.X manages to reappear in Kamala’s life and infiltrates Coles Academic High School as new girl Kylee Kirk. Red Dagger and Ms. Marvel team up to take down the villain in its humanoid robot form. It isn’t until Doc.X is defeated that Red Dagger reveals he is returning to Karachi.
Who is Red Dagger in the MCU?
Red Dagger has yet to appear on screen in the MCU but you won’t have to wait too long for his arrival. The character is set to debut in the upcoming Ms. Marvel series on Disney+. The same time the Marvel Studios original was announced during the Walt Disney Company’s 2020 Investors Day presentation, the cast of the show was also revealed. Among them was actor Aramis Knight. A few days later, Knight confirmed on his Instagram account that he would be playing Red Dagger.
If you have a keen eye, you can spot Red Dagger twice in the official Ms. Marvel trailer - both times in his hero costume. First, he guides Ms. Marvel through a building possessing intricately carved walls and ceilings. A few seconds later he is kicking off of a kiosk while what appears to be Ms. Marvel punching at him using her purple energy enhanced fist. Based on the décor of the room and the writing on the kiosk, it seems he will share connections to Pakistan similar to his comic counterpart.
Knight is a fitting pick for the role beginning with his Pakistani heritage. In the underappreciated Into the Badlands, he proved he can do exciting and well-choreographed action sequences. Moreover, he helped make the complicated teen relationship between his M.K. and Ally Ioannides’ Tilda compelling throughout the three seasons. That is something he can draw upon if the MCU Ms. Marvel and Red Dagger follow the same path as the source material.
Don’t miss Red Dagger in the upcoming Ms. Marvel, which premieres June 8 on Disney+.