West News Wire: The director of the upcoming film “The Marvels,” Nia DaCosta, has an explanation for the superhero genre’s current problems. In essence, she states, it’s about “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”
Budgets grow because of success. Expectations at the box office are overblown. Nothing can withstand repeated cycles of wash, rinse, and repeat not even superhero spandex.
According to DaCosta, “growth has to stop at some point.” “You want your films to be more dynamic, intriguing, and appealing to a variety of viewers as you continue to produce more and more of them. Still, that calls for risk. There’s also the dilemma of being too big to take chances. That, in my opinion, is how the audience is feeling. “I’ve seen it before, and I liked it the first time,” they say.
When “The Marvels” opens in theaters Friday, it will be debuting in uncommonly uncertain times for superhero films. There’s talk of over-saturation. DC and Warner Bros. are in makeover mode. Box office-dominance this year has been ceded to Barbie and Mario.
While no one’s doubting the supersized place of superheroes in Hollywood, mass success for Marvel no longer seems quite so automatic. For DaCosta, whose two previous films were the Jordan Peele-produced horror remake “Candyman” and the acclaimed 2018 indie crime drama “Little Woods,” it’s imperative that superhero movies aspire to be fresh and daring films, she says, like “Across the Spider-Verse.”
In a recent interview, DaCosta praised the inventiveness of the animated Marvel film that was released earlier this year, saying that “the more we can do that as an industry, the better.” “It’s also my belief that you shouldn’t aim for such a high box office return so you can afford to take chances.”
Nobody considers “The Marvels,” starring Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, Iman Vellani, and Samuel L. Jackson, to be a particularly daring film. It’s kind of a follow-up to “Captain Marvel,” which debuted in 2019 and made over $1.1 billion globally. “The Marvels” is one of the most anticipated films of the fall by any standard.
However, it’s also a large-scale experimentation effort. It’s the first Marvel film with leads that are entirely female, but a female villain (Zawe Ashton plays Dar-Benn), as well. DaCosta, 33, is the youngest filmmaker to helm an MCU release. More importantly, she’s the first Black woman to direct a Marvel movie.
“Day to day, I don’t really think about it. But it is nice to finally have a Black woman directing one it just happens to be me,” DaCosta says, laughing. “What was cool about realizing that, I was sort of like: Wow, I’m the first Black woman. But I’m also the third woman and the fourth or fifth person of color. It was cool to see that I wasn’t just stepping into an all-white, all-male world.”
“The Marvels” brings together Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Larson), Monica Rambeau/Photon (Parris) and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Vellani). While originally conceived as a post-“Endgame” follow-up to “Captain Marvel,” Marvel chief Kevin Feige was drawn to the chance to unite Captain Marvel with Rambeau from “WandaVision” and Ms. Marvel of her standalone Disney+ series.
In “The Marvels,” the trio has become linked. Every time they use their powers, they swap places with each other, causing their worlds to collide in comic and surreal ways.
“When I was reading the outline that they sent me initially before I was pitching, I was like, ‘This is insane,’” DaCosta says. “It felt so comic book-y. I was like, ‘Wow, they’re really going for it.’”
DaCosta was drawn to what she calls “a really crazy, sci-fi space opera” that was wacky and tonally different from most MCU films.
“I wanted to honor what they set out to do, which is make something very frankly strange,” she says.
The heart of the film for DaCosta is about the dichotomy of Danvers and Ms. Marvel. While Danvers has been tirelessly doing the solitary work of Captain Marvel out in deep space, Ms. Marvel’s foundation is her family.