The film is also Nia DaCosta’s career’s biggest, in more ways than one. When compared to the Brooklyn native’s past two features — the 2018 thriller-drama Little Woods and the 2021 horror Candyman — The Marvels has a budget with a lot more zeroes. Its feature-length story, one about the shining Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) again saving the day while having her powers entangled with those of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), is also the 33rd one told in the Kevin Feige-headed universe.
On top of everything else, DaCosta is now the first Black woman to helm a film in this franchise. As of now, she is also its youngest director.
However, all those monuments don’t stand out as much as her description of the elements The Marvels would cover in 2021 for EW: “specific, personal, sometimes sad things.” They are visible in Little Woods, in one sister’s dedication to get proper healthcare for the other amid poverty and crime. They are there in the new Candyman, an artist’s awakening to societal and racial ills at the cost of his sanity.
So where could they be in The Marvels? Vietcetera’s Nguyên Lê got to briefly talk with DaCosta to find out. The film will be in local theaters on November 10 and is rated C13.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Did the film ‘Little Woods’ influence the making of ‘The Marvels’? Both films explore the theme of sisterhood, which I find quite prominent in this context.
One-hundred percent! Little Woods was included in my pitch! [laughs] When I pitched The Marvels, I said, “I just made this movie about sisterhood and strange sisters finding each other.” And I think that’s an interesting way of thinking about these three women. It was a part of my presentation on why I should direct this.
[On the technical level,] I think it was learning my style, the way I like to shoot, the way I like to work with actors, and start my day on set, things like that. Those are things that I’ve carried through to all my films and carried through to The Marvels.
Also, working with a DP like Sean Bobbitt is something I have wanted to do since Little Woods — when I was a [production assistant] and driving him around [laughs]. There’s a continuity there!
[DP Sean Bobbitt was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and has worked on films such as 12 Years A Slave, The Place Beyond the Pines, Queen of Katwe, Byzantium, Widows, and more.]
I used to live and work in Texas, so thank you for getting him on board. Texas represent!
Oh, yeah! [laughs]
Now, expanding upon the sisterhood/femininity subject, I’d like to know your thoughts on whether someone says The Marvels is a ‘superheroine’ film over a ‘superhero’ film.
I can see that, you know because there are three heroines in the film. It is more of a semantic argument, but I’d call it “a superhero film with a superhero team-up.” But I love that it’s three women at the center, which I think it’s really exciting and really overdue. I’m glad we have it now!
Before we go, how was it working with talents of Asian descent like Iman Vellani and Park Seo-Joon?
Oh, it was great! They were amazing. Iman is just such a light — I love her so much. And Park Seo-Joon, he is just so awesome. Iman is an actress I inherited from the casting before, and Seo-Joon is someone I chose but has never worked with, which is always a risk. But I got really lucky with him.
[In an interview with Korea’s SBS Star, DaCosta said she cast Park after binge-watching Itaewon Class — based on her friends’ recommendation — during the pandemic. Park will play a prince of a planet called Aladna in The Marvels.]
Thank you for everything, Nia. By the way, Little Woods Army, rise!
[laughs] I love it. A Little Woods hive!
DaCosta has been working on her next project, titled Hedda, based on the 1891 play by Henrik Ibsen. It will reunite her with one of her Little Woods’ main stars and MCU alum, Tessa Thompson.