Nia DaCosta is trying to rewrite Captain Marvel’s destiny in The Marvels
One subtle trick Marvel Studios has managed to pull off since Robert Downey Jr appeared as Iron Man in 08, is picking actors that seem like they were born for the roles they currently play. From Downey’s Iron Man to Evans’ Steve Rogers to Tom Hiddleston as Loki, the MCU knows it owes a lot of its cinematic success to an impeccable actor selection program.
But even more importantly – and interestingly – is how the MCU has balanced the popularity scale of its heroes and villains for over a decade. Through detailed narratives and character arcs, they develop each character and skillfully interweave their plots. Their dedication to character development has helped to create a strong bond between these characters and the cinematic Marvel fanbase.
Nia DaCosta To Save The Day
Call it skilful marketing if you want, but when you take fans through the growth process of any character – be it a hero or villain, exploring their mistakes and triumphs, it creates a stronger connection. Which makes it easier to expand even more complicated narratives; such as Micheal B. Jordan’s Killmonger’s spread-the-wealth crusade, or even Yahya Abdul-Mateen II”s twisted plot in Candyman.
The latter is a recent sequel to the 1992 film of the same name, brilliantly written and directed by budding director Nia Dacosta. The native New Yorker broke into the scene with In Little Woods: a story about two sisters struggling to deal with extreme living conditions in rural North Dakota.
The skillfulness with which Dacosta expanded the lives of both female lead actors, Ollie (Tessa Thompson) and Deb (Lily James) in her debut movie didn’t go unnoticed. She was quickly scooped up by Marvel to direct the sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, which introduced Brie Larson as the MCU’s strongest character.
Marvel’s Captain Marvel Issue
Despite grossing over 1 billion dollars at the box office, Captain Marvel did very little to improve the way fans felt about the superhero. A handful of appearances in Endgame and a light-hearted storyline in What If did little to improve the character’s fan reputation.
Nia Dacosta is currently in England filming the Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels, and she recently spoke to Inverse, explaining her thoughts about the movie’s direction, giving insight into other important characters and how much of her signature she intends to imprint on the movie.
We’ve munched the major highlights from the interview below.
When asked how she felt about directing her first big title, Dacosta singled out the easy access to professional services and resources as major highlights of having such a huge responsibility. “You get to work with the best people in their field. My gaffer’s amazing, my grip is amazing. It’s been a really interesting experience because I’ve always had great crews, but there’s something interesting about feeling like we were just totally in good hands at this huge scale.”
Dacosta further pointed out how she intended to develop Captain Marvel’s character arc, emphasizing on the need to explore her human side in order to fully bring out the beauty of Major Carol Danver’s superhero journey.
“For The Marvels, my biggest thing going into it was making sure I approached these characters as human beings and not necessarily as superheroes. I want to know more about Captain Marvel. Who is she? What are her fears? What drives her? How do you actually deal with being the most powerful being in the universe? How does that weigh on you? That’s the sort of thing I want to explore.”
The External Factors
According to Dacosta, it is almost impossible to explore a hero’s journey without revealing the external factors that influence the decisions they make. This makes it easier for audiences to connect with the emotions they feel at every point of their journey along the narrative being told. “People would say I’m crazy for thinking that way, but there’s something connected to the journey of the anti-hero and the hero,” Dacosta revealed. “The hero’s pain is something that spurs them to martyr themselves, and an anti-hero’s pain is a thing that kind of starts their journey as opposed to ending it.”
By the time the Captain Marvel sequel, The Marvels hits the cinemas, Miss Marvel will have launched on Disney’s streaming service. The show will introduce Kamala Khan into the MCU as Miss Marvel. This will likely be used to develop Khan’s character arc before her appearance in The Marvels.
When asked about how she intended to adequately explore the characters of three superhero women – Carol Danvers, Kamala and Monica Rambeau – in just 2-hours of the screenplay, Dacosta highlighted the importance of creating a balance between their personal battles and their individual points along the general Marvel timeline – how much of those prior decisions have affected their personal lives.
“Captain Marvel has a history from the first film, Kamala will have her Miss Marvel show, and Monica Rambeau, we’ve only seen her a little bit in WandaVision. A lot of what we’ve been thinking about is what part of the journey do we need to see for each of them? How do we honor the part of the story they’re at in terms of the canon, while also within our story making them equal?”
Rewriting The Origin Stories
Dacosta revealed that she draws a lot of inspiration from the early comic issues of Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau. Singling out the comic issues of the ’80s, she highlighted how much influence those origin backstories will have on the direction of the movie. “My research was going into the history of Carol Danvers first and foremost, because it is a crazy wild ride, what they did to her in the comics in the ‘80s. And then with Monica, she’s really fun, her origin story and her introduction in the comics” she said. “It was really choosing what’s been established already in terms of the MCU and then what’s going to work, most compellingly, for our story”
Speaking about her efforts to improve the roles women play in movie plots in general, Dacosta expressed her desire to show the strength of the female character through more female lead roles. “I try to make as many of them as possible main characters. I try to make sure what they do affects the plot in a real way” she explained.
With so much skill in exploring the emotional side of a character and working with women, it seems there is no one more suited than Dacosta to garner some much-needed love for Captain Marvel. And Brie Larson definitely needs it! It’ll be interesting to see how she shares a stage with her female counterparts while balancing their significance to the overall plot.
Set for a February 17, 2023 debut, Dacosta and her team are currently filming on set locations in England