The Marvels Director on Creating a Team Literally Forced to Work Together

Chủ nhật - 19/05/2024 21:51
Nia DaCosta discusses making The Marvels accessible for those who don't know the Disney+ shows, the fun of heroes swapping places, and more.

Though a sequel to 2019’s blockbuster Captain Marvel, Marvel Studios’ new film, The Marvels, has an unusual MCU-specific positioning beyond that, given it also is a follow-up to two Disney+ series, 2021’s WandaVision and 2022’s Ms. Marvel, continuing not just the story of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) but also Monica Rambeau/Photon (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani).

Taking over as director this time is Nia DaCosta, after her success with 2021’s hit Candyman. At this point, there’s a continuing debate with MCU projects regarding just how much you are required to see before a new installment and when I spoke to DaCosta, we talked about making sure The Marvels properly explained everything regardless of whether you’d seen those shows or not.

(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, and Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in The Marvels

DaCosta also discussed exploring a team dynamic with a twist, as the film’s storyline finds Carol, Monica and Kamala’s powers somehow becoming entangled, causing them to swap places with each other, often mid-fight or at other highly unfortunate times, like, say, mid-air if you’re someone who can’t fly. It’s because of this situation they truly have to cooperate with each other, given they can’t escape what’s happening no matter how hard they might try.

The film’s title comes from the fact that, at least in the comics, all three women have had the word Marvel in their superhero name at one point (Monica Rambeau also went by Captain Marvel for a time) and DaCosta pondered another famous Marvel, Jean Grey, AKA Marvel Girl, joining the team, plus explained why she loved having Samuel L. Jackson back as Nick Fury, and more – including dodging my question about a Candyman sequel, though her non-answer does leave me hopeful.

Fandom: This is a sequel to Captain Marvel, which was a huge movie. But then you have these two other main characters that were introduced on TV shows – or at least the adult version of one was introduced — so how much did you guys discuss making sure everyone would be caught up watching this, regardless of whether they saw those shows or not? 

Nia DaCosta: We discussed it ad nauseam because it really is like trial and error trying to figure out. Like, ‘Is this too much information? Is it not enough information to try to figure out?’ Especially in the beginning, introducing all three characters, [wondering] how much people would have seen already. I assumed people would watch them all anyway, because who hasn’t seen like the entire MCU at this point, but it was kind of fun to try to figure out how can we best show who these women are before we take them on this crazy journey.

Teyonah Parris as Captain Monica Rambeau in The Marvels

Fandom: The swapping places aspect is an innately exciting idea. How fun was it for you guys figuring out all the ways that could work and planning sequences around that? 

Nia DaCosta: So fun. Because once you have sort of a conceit like that, then at least for me, your brain just keeps going, ‘Ooh, how can we make this really awful for the characters!?’ Like when we have Kamala falling through the sky… Just thinking about all the ways we can complicate it, but also all the ways we can make them seem really awesome and visually and physically look really cool because of this switching thing. So it’s really exciting to have a conceit like that in this movie.

Fandom: Even though the MCU has been around for quite a while, there hasn’t been that many teams beyond the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Did you enjoy getting to explore a team dynamic and how these characters function together? 

Nia DaCosta: For sure. Yeah, it was really, really cool to do a team-up, especially because they’re switching places. So it’s like you have a team-up and then you also have this crazy weird thing that is forcing them together, which I thought was really fun.

(L-R): Brie Larson as Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan in The Marvels

Fandom: I’m not alone in this, but I’m a big fan of Iman Vellani as Kamala. Can you talk about that fan energy that she represents and getting to bounce that off the other two, more seasoned characters?  

Nia DaCosta: It’s great. Because even as people individually, they’re weirdly sort of really similar to their characters. Brie’s done it before. She’s an old hand at the Marvel thing, so she came with a lot of wisdom and knowledge. And then Teyonah is really specific and erudite. And then Iman is like an actual fan the way Kamala is, so it was such good energy to have. And as someone who also kind of nerds out about these sorts of things, it was great to bounce off of her and just bring up the excitement and bring up the enthusiasm inside of the process.

Fandom: We did a feature on Fandom about every character with “Marvel” in their name in Marvel comics and there’s quite a lot. Jean Grey was Marvel Girl, for instance, when she was first introduced… 

Nia DaCosta: Right! Oh yeah!

Fandom:  If you got to expand the Marvels lineup, would you like to bring in some of those other characters to work with these three?

Nia DaCosta: I mean, bringing in Jean Grey would be amazing. She’s so intense, though, but it would be so cool.

Floating Flerkittens in The Marvels

Fandom: There are a lot more Flerkens in this movie. Did you discuss Flerken society and how it functions?  

Nia DaCosta: [Laughs] Oh, my goodness. I mean, once those kittens grow up, I think maybe we can figure out a form of government that can work. But the thing about Flerkens is they’re very similar to cats. They cannot be governed. So I think it would be some sort of anarchist-like haven or something that they figured out.

Fandom: There’s been a lot of MCU projects at this point. Do you have a favorite that resonates the most with you? 

Nia DaCosta: I love so many of them but I will say from a more recent space, WandaVision, and that study of grief, I thought was really powerful, really moving. I just loved… You go through this whole series, and then near the end, you see basically her pain creating this entire town. I thought that was really moving and beautiful.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in The Marvels

Fandom: Samuel L. Jackson has played Nick Fury for so long. What is his insight like playing that character? 

Nia DaCosta: It’s really, really awesome because he also has a very specific relationship to all three of them. Obviously, he and Kamala meet during this movie and they have a really fun dynamic, but I kind of see him as like the Godfather or just the dad of the MCU, and so to see him sort of back in that role is really great. And also because he’s been in the most Marvel films, he also feels like that on set and he’s just so generous and giving, so he has a great point of view and it’s really helpful.

Fandom: This is a big swerve from Candyman. Do you enjoy getting to show such different facets as a director? Obviously this is still visually dynamic, but it’s such a tonal change from what you did there. 

Nia DaCosta: I like doing things that are different. I think I don’t do it necessarily intentionally. But my brain is kind of careening from one end of the spectrum to the next. And my next film [Hedda, based on the play Hedda Gabler] is totally different from anything I’ve done before as well. It’s really enlivening and exciting to be able to do that.

Director Nia DaCosta on the set of The Marvels

Fandom: I’m a huge fan of Candyman. Has there been been talk about doing more with that?

Nia DaCosta:  Oh, I can’t say… I can’t say. But the movie did very well. And usually people like to continue on when something does well. So, um…

The Marvels opens November 10.

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