Nia DaCosta’s ‘The Marvels’ leaves its mark: Fall Movie Preview

N. Y. The producer of “The Marvels,” Nia DaCosta, has a hypothesis about why superhero films have been performing poorly recently. According to her, “the more money you have, the more problems you have.”

The more successful you are, the more money you will make. Aims at the box office are set too high. Tights, even those worn by superheroes, wear out after several washes and wears.

“Growth has to stop at some point,” argues DaCosta. You want each new film you create to be better than the last in terms of story, action, and audience appeal. But that calls for some calculated risk. Another issue with massive size is that it limits your ability to take risks. The crowd probably feels that way. A common phrase heard among them is “I’ve seen it before and liked it then.”

When it opens in theaters on November 10, “The Marvels” will arrive at a window when superhero films are rarely divisive. Too much of a certain topic is discussed. DC and Warner Bros. both have new logos and branding. This year’s box office winners are Barbie and Mario.

There’s no denying the popularity of superhero films, but Marvel is having a harder time attracting an audience. DaCosta, whose previous films include the Jordan Peele-produced horror remake “Candyman” and the lauded 2018 indie crime drama “Little Woods,” thinks it’s crucial that superhero movies try something new and dangerous like “Across the Spider-Verse.”

“The more we can do that as an industry, the better,” DaCosta stated in a recent interview, applauding the novelty of the animated Marvel film that was released earlier this year. To paraphrase, “I also think you shouldn’t expect such a big return at the box office, so you can take risks.”

The cast of “The Marvels,” including Samuel L. Jackson, Iman Vellani, Teyonah Parris, and Bree Larson, isn’t exactly known for its daring. It’s a sequel of sorts to 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” which grossed over $1.1 billion globally. Regardless of your perspective, “The Marvels” is one of the most anticipated fall releases.

But it’s also an expensive experiment with new techniques. It’s the first Marvel film to include an all-female cast with a female antagonist (Zawe Ashton’s Dar-Benn). At the age of 33, DaCosta sets a new record as the youngest person to helm a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. She’s the first person of color to hold this position.

I don’t give it much thought on an everyday basis. “It’s great to have a Black woman directing one at last, and it just so happens that I am that person,” DaCosta says with a wry smile. I thought, “Wow, I’m the first Black woman,” when I realized that, and it was very cool. However, I am only the third female and one of only a handful of people of color in my group. That I wasn’t entering a world dominated by white guys was a nice surprise.

Starring in “The Marvels” are Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Vellani), Kamala Danvers/Captain Marvel (Larson), and Monica Rambeau/Photon (Parris). Despite the fact that it was planned as a sequel to “Captain Marvel” following “Endgame,” Marvel chief Kevin Feige enjoyed the notion of uniting Captain Marvel, Rambeau from “WandaVision,” and Ms. Marvel from her own Disney+ show.

In “The Marvels,” all three are related in some way. Each time one of them uses a power, the other takes their place. As a result, unusual and humorous events begin to occur in their universes.

“I wanted to honor what they wanted to do, which was to make something, well, weird,” she explains.

According to DaCosta, the film’s central theme is highlighting the contrast between Danvers and Ms. Marvel. Danvers has been working tirelessly as Captain Marvel on her own in space, but Ms. Marvel is inspired by her relatives on Earth.

For DaCosta, a self-proclaimed “workaholic,” this is an easy concept to grasp.

“Well, this is my third movie in six years, and I’m already working on a fourth,” she explains. “Most of my extended family still resides in New York City, where I was born. Never once in my career have I ever shot there. When I was in town, my mother failed to remember to invite me to a family gathering. My immediate thought after hearing something like that is, “I need to connect more.”

But that’s not easy to do when you’re one of the fastest-rising directors in Hollywood. DaCosta has enjoyed a gradual but rapid ascent to prominence, despite her preference for making jokes about rather than discussing her own accomplishments. Instead, she has been successful as a director because of her cool demeanor and her knack for setting the right tone and playing with perspective in her films.

In London, where she is preparing to adapt Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” alongside “Little Woods” star Tessa Thompson, DaCosta gave this interview. DaCosta was eager to get started on his studio’s project but was waiting for the SAG-AFTRA strike to end so he could resume work. Sometimes Maude, a Yorkie-Maltese mix, would help her relax.

After “Candyman,” DaCosta believes a Marvel film was “definitely not in my near future.” However, she did not dwell on the subject constantly. Since she began creating films, she has longed to helm one, an ambition she attributes to Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man.” She witnessed it when she was 12 years old. “And I still love it,” she says.

After Feige handed DaCosta the reins to “The Marvels,” he suggested she consult with her fellow Marvel film filmmakers for advice. She remembers Ryan Coogler’s line from “Black Panther” most vividly. Simple as that, he told her to “be yourself.”

To paraphrase: “I was like, ‘Wait, what?’ DaCosta explains, “Then I started to understand.” Just do it, he told me,” It’s a major deal. It’s a Kevin Feige-produced Marvel film, in all honesty. But there must be a reason why they chose you.

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