With The Marvels now in theaters, Nia DaCosta is officially the youngest director to helm a film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
For the self-proclaimed “comic book nerd” who grew up watching X-Men: The Animated Series, getting a chance to play in the MCU sandbox was a dream come true.
“When I first started making films, this was something I always wanted to do. I felt like I could have some fun and also do something really great. It was amazing and exciting,” she says.
While Marvel is well-known for planning out its character arcs in advance, the story of The Marvles changed significantly from the time that DaCosta signed on to the final result. Still, the underlying themes have remained.
“It’s interesting. From the initial outline that I got when I was pitching to now, it’s quite different. However, these three women being in the film, switching places—a lot of the thematics that were under the surface had been there from the beginning,” DaCosta explains.
“I just wanted to pull that more to the surface. Family became a huge theme. Home became a huge theme. Figuring out the emotional underpinning of the relationships between the three of them was huge for me. That was how I’d think about it. I would think, “What can I bring to this?”
Assembling The Marvels’ Cast of Characters
The Marvels not only serves as a sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel but also continues the stories of Monica Rambeau and Kamala Khan. According to DaCosta, the choice of the film’s supporting characters took a lot of thought.
“It really was trial and error, but also just bringing to the fore everything we loved about these characters and following the thematics of what we wanted to talk about. For me, it was family,” she explained.
“It was home. Who represents family better than the Khans? Seeing how Kamala can go out and take on the world because her family is there supporting her every step of the way, that is something I think Captain Marvel needs to remember and to connect with. They kind of represent that theme for everyone in the film.”
Learning on the Job
Throughout the process, DaCosta continued to learn. After all, it was her first time directing a project of this scale.
“It was something I had really wanted to do, and I was given the opportunity to learn on this movie. The way I approached it was by being very honest and saying, “I’ve never done this before. So, while I’m learning how this works, I will be as clear as possible about what I want to see at the end of the day,” DaCosta recalled
“My VFX supervisor and my stunt coordinators would tell me what elements were required to shoot something. And as we kept going, I learned more. Eventually, I was able to do it really succinctly. We developed a shorthand. There was a lot of support and a lot of goodwill inside of Marvel to help me throughout that journey.”
The Marvels is in theaters now.
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