While The Marvels may not be the box office success that many were hoping for, the release of the film did officially make NIa DaCosta the youngest filmmaker to direct a Marvel Studios film.
DaCosta, who rose to fame after the success of 2021’s Candyman has shattered more than a few glass ceilings in her day. Still, The Marvels represented her assendtion into a new stratosphere. So, how does it feel to be a trailblazer?
“Most people seeing the movie aren’t going to know or care about that,” she says. “For other young Black women who want to be filmmakers, I think it’s important to be an example.”
A Dream Come True
When pitching The Marvels, DaCosta wanted to make a film that was “fun, funny, and full of heart”.
“What I like about Marvel films is that they have a consistent energy,” she says, “but they can feel really different depending on what the vibe is or who the filmmaker is.”
As a self-proclaimed comic book nerd, DaCosta was especially excited about getting to tell Kamala Khan’s story. As it turns out, she had been a longtime fan of the Ms. Marvel character, who had debuted during her teens.
“Usually I’m not like, ‘I like this person because I see myself — a tri-state area nerd who loves superhero and comic stuff and writes fan fiction,’” DaCosta says. “But she’s a great street-level hero, an heir to Spider-Man.”
A Story With A Lot of Heart
DaCosta was also intrigued by the emotional relationship between the three main characters. “These three women are basically like sisters: Carol’s the oldest, Kamala’s the youngest and Monica is in the middle,” she notes.
In the film, Monica Rambou is wrestling with the grief of losing her mother, and the feeling that Carol abandoned them.
Kamala meanwhile learns the dangers of meeting your idols. Finally, Carol has to learn to let some things go.
“Because Carol has been on her own for so long, it was important to show what it is actually like, for this woman to live a life where she thinks she’s the only thing holding everything together. Which is a story that a lot of women can relate to,” DaCosta explains.
The director particularly enjoyed her time with Marvel head Kevin Feige.
“I wanted so much more of his time. I was like, ‘Can we please be best friends? Here are all my ideas.’ I pitched him so many movies over sushi,” she adds, laughing. “He’s just a very good guy who just really loves what he does, and that’s all you could ask for in a boss and a collaborator.”
Choosing To See the Light
While The Marvels has received criticism from particular corners for “going woke”, DaCosta is choosing not to let it get under her skin.
“There are pockets where you go because you’re like, ‘I’m a super fan. I want to exist in the space of just adoration — which includes civilized critique,” she explains. “Then there are pockets that are really virulent and violent and racist — and sexist and homophobic and all those awful things. And I choose the side of the light. That’s the part of fandom I’m most attracted to.”
The Marvels is in theaters now.
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