Actor Aramis Knight made his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut this week as Kareem (the Red Dagger) in the action-packed fourth episode of Ms. Marvel. Kareem works with Farhan Akhtar’s Waleed to aid Kamala (Iman Vellani) in Karachi as she discovers her roots and the source of her powers. In the comic books, Red Dagger plays a pivotal role as an ally and a possible love interest for Ms. Marvel, so I asked Knight to talk about his take on the character, and what might be next:
Aramis, you are no stranger to martial arts and action roles, given your past work as MK from the cult favourite Into the Badlands. How different was playing Red Dagger in comparison to MK?
Playing Red Dagger was really different. MK was an orphan in a post-apocalyptic world and had to grapple with a lot of people. He was very much a lost soul. Kareem is quite the opposite. He knows what he stands for, and what his cause is. He has dedicated himself to keeping his city safe and ensuring that he’s always doing good work for the Red Daggers. In that context, MK and Kareem are very different as characters.
And in what ways were they similar?
They’re similar in many ways – the physicality and martial arts is one. It was super cool to be able to implement my experience as MK into Red Dagger’s character. I knew it gave me a leg up in being able to grab the role. There’s so much physicality involved in being a martial artist, it’s about more than just being able to do your own stunts. For one, I think I did walk with the swagger that was super necessary to being the Red Dagger.
Speaking of keeping the city safe, how much fun was it to shoot that action sequence and chase across the city with Farhan Akhtar and Iman Vellani?
Man, that sequence was truly amazing. We had the legendary Gary Powell as our action director. He’s done franchises like James Bond and Jason Bourne. Working with him was wild and so much fun. He had me feeling like a complete action star. We were in this abandoned neighbourhood in Thailand that they converted to look like Karachi, and we were racing up and down these streets. A lot of the rigs used for the sequence were practical, and we actually saw the truck crash. We were actually on that ‘chingchi’ (auto-rickshaw) most of the time. So it wasn’t hard for us to scream and act out the sequence naturally, because we really were in a high-speed chase.
Now onto the spoilery question – where do we see your relationship with Kamala heading in the series?
Kareem becomes a great ally for Kamala. He’s really the first person she meets within the superhero committee who has a lot of answers for her. He’s dedicated his life to this, so he has a lot of valuable information for her, someone who has, by contrast, stumbled upon her powers. As they become great allies, the banter becomes stronger and that was easy for Iman and I, since we are great friends. So he’s definitely a good guy that Kamala has in her corner.
What’s your message to all the Indian fans watching Ms. Marvel?
Thank you to everyone watching the series in India. I’m really happy to be one of the first few to represent our culture in the mainstream MCU and on television on such a scale. It’s hard to explain, but in many ways, playing Red Dagger feels like I’m honouring my family and my roots. You know, I’m just making my grandma proud – and I’m happy about that.