Shira Haas: Israeli star to make superhero waves with Marvel as Sabra

No. 46 on The Jerusalem Post's Top 50 Most Influential Jews of 2022: Israeli actress Shira Haas, the new Sabra at Marvel.

 Left: Marvel superhero Sabra as she appears in the comics. RIGHT: Israeli actress Shira Haas (photo credit: FLASH90, WIKIPEDIA)
Left: Marvel superhero Sabra as she appears in the comics. RIGHT: Israeli actress Shira Haas
(photo credit: FLASH90, WIKIPEDIA)

For someone as diminutive as Shira Haas, she is certainly causing a huge tidal wave of reaction to the news that she’ll be following in the footsteps of Gal Gadot in playing a superheroine.

But while Gadot’s Wonder Woman had no Israel connection, Haas’s casting as Sabra in the upcoming Marvel film Captain America: New World Order – release date next year – has a giant Magen David written all over it.

One of Israel’s most celebrated actresses, the 27-year-old, Tel Aviv-born Haas is best known for her roles in the show Unorthodox, which propelled her to international stardom. She was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Emmy in 2020 for her performance as religiously torn Esther Shapiro.

But she’s not just a one-trick pony. She’s received nominations for an Independent Spirit Award and a Critics Choice Award, and won a Best Actress Award at the Tribeca Film Festival for her role in the 2020 Israeli drama Asia, for which she also received a Best Supporting Actress Ophir Award. Another important upcoming role for her will be as the young Golda Meir in the biopic Golda, in which Helen Mirren will play an older incarnation of the former Israeli prime minister.

SHIRA HAAS in Netflix’s ‘Unorthodox. (credit: NETFLIX)SHIRA HAAS in Netflix’s ‘Unorthodox. (credit: NETFLIX)

Who is Sabra, Marvel's Israeli superhero?

Captain America, and Sabra in particular, represent a giant leap for Haas’s profile. And that includes the notoriety that goes along with it.

In the comics, Sabra, also known by the alias Ruth Bat–Seraph, first appeared in the 1980s Incredible Hulk comic book series. A mutant Mossad agent, Sabra had multiple costumes in the comics but often had the Star of David engraved into her uniform.

While there are plenty of Jewish characters in the Marvel universe, Sabra is the only known superhero in Marvel comics so far that was born and raised in Israel.

No sooner had the announcement of Haas’s role been made, the attacks against her and Marvel flew like a speeding bullet, ranging from twisted posts touting her “super powers” in killing innocent Palestinian children to claims that the name Sabra was an affront to the victims of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon.

Following the online onslaught, Marvel issued a statement saying: “While our characters and stories are inspired by the comics, they are always freshly imagined for the screen and today’s audience, and the filmmakers are taking a new approach with the character Sabra, who was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago.”

Whether that means Sabra will remain Israeli in name only or not, it’s clear that Haas will be larger than life next year on screens around the world (except those that boycott the film).

If she proves to be more powerful than a locomotive in deflecting the hate that will inevitably be spewed her way, then she will truly live up to her superheroine persona.