Nia DaCosta on Overcoming Challenges Making The Marvels

Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels is almost here, and the Marvel Studios film starring Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani will soon bring us the cosmic triple threat team-up we’ve been waiting for.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, director DaCosta talked candidly about becoming the first Black woman to helm a Marvel film. Coming off Candyman (2021), she spoke to peers who’d worked in the Disney tentpole space and jokingly asked, “Are they going to kill me and destroy my soul? Is Kevin Feige a bad man?” Fortunately, the answers she got were encouraging.They were like, ‘No, he’s just a good guy who was a nerd.’ ”

Being a nerd herself came in handy as she transitioned from the indie realm into the world of big-budget genre movies. DaCosta grew up on the X-Men, and was excited to bring to life her vision—but she did call up Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings director Destin Daniel Cretton, a fellow indie-film veteran, for moral support when the world of green screens got to be a little too much. “Sometimes you’d be in a scene and you’d be like, ‘What the hell does any of this shit mean?’ Or an actor’s looking at some crazy thing happening in space, and they’re [actually] looking at a blue X,” DaCosta recalled.There were obviously hard days, and days where you’re like, ‘This just isn’t working.’

The Marvels also needed to fit within the Marvel Cinematic Universe narrative set up in Captain Marvel, WandaVision, and Ms. Marvel—but DaCosta said that even if you’re going in without seeing any of the aforementioned, you won’t find yourself completely lost. Feige likes to keep his movies standalone, with those layers you can peel back through the MCU’s decade-plus of mythology. “It is a Kevin Feige production, it’s his movie,” DaCosta said. “So I think you live in that reality, but I tried to go in with the knowledge that some of you is going to take a back seat.”

Along with bringing her own take on the MCU, DaCosta also talked to Vanity Fair about the elephant in the toxic fandom room. “I’m just girding myself for it,” DaCosta, who is no longer on social media, shared. “I am a sensitive soul, and I think maybe more of us are than we want to admit.”

Ultimately, her presence in the cadre of indie directors who can also handle big movies signals a needed change. To DaCosta it came down to having more freedom to select her crew. “I realized it wasn’t ever gonna be about how much power I amassed or how many great movies I made, or if I won awards, it was always just going to be the people that I surrounded myself with,” she said of her experience on The Marvels. “The thing that I’ve been most surprised by lately is how much respect I’m getting from these middle-aged white dudes that I work with.”

The Marvels opens November 10.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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