Despite Captain Marvel being one of the most significant characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you’d be hard-pressed to describe who Carol Danvers, the person, really is—going by the handful of appearances she’s made throughout the franchise so far as the ultimate ringer who can take a punch. Director Nia DaCosta (Candyman) wants to change that with The Marvels.
After appearing in a few episodes of Marvel’s What If animated series (all of which is canon, if set in the far reaches of the multiverse), Captain Marvel is set to appear next in The Marvels, DaCosta’s follow-up to Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s 2019 Captain Marvel. While tackling a flagship character’s second major cinematic outing would be a significant challenge in any situation, DaCosta’s upcoming film will also bring Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau to the big screen for the first time as allies to Brie Larson’s Danvers. In a recent interview with Roxane Gay for Inverse, DaCosta opened up about how she’s been thinking about The Marvels as the movie’s begun production, and she explained how her biggest desire heading into the project was really digging into the essence of Carol’s identity.
“I want to know more about Captain Marvel,” DaCosta said. “Who is she? What are her fears? What drives her? How do you actually deal with being the most powerful being in the universe?” Though Captain Marvel was ostensibly an origin story, Carol spent the bulk of the movie not knowing who she was—until the third act when she triumphantly became a full-on superhero with no real grounding to her home planet. Carol’s presence in the larger universe and how she went on to become a well-known hero has been alluded to in Avengers: Infinity and Avengers: Endgame, but in both of those films, she was really only there to show up at the very last minute to fight before peacing out again.
To DaCosta, superheroes should be complicated figures who often exist in morally grey areas, and she pointed to DC’s Batman and Superman, and Magneto of the X-Men, as examples of why characters are stronger when you interrogate them beyond their idealized surfaces. “In terms of the most successful heroes, no matter how much power you have, you never really have control over yourself,” DaCosta said. “That’s something you see in characters like Magneto, for example. His emotional life is always going to overpower his actual power.”
In terms of her own emotional life, DaCosta’s trying to not let the pressure of working on a major Marvel movie—and her third film to date—get to her by living in the moment and not allowing herself spend too much time thinking about The Marvels’ gravity. A big part of that, DaCosta stated, has boiled down to reckoning with the reality that she’s been very busy these past few years, but also reminding herself that work isn’t everything.
“I’m trying to put less significance on my worth through work,” DaCosta said. “That helps me shoulder that pressure because I’m also thinking, ‘Am I a good friend? Am I a good sister? Am I living in the right city?’ I also try to come at it like, I’m a fan. I’m doing the best I can as a fan as well as a creator and storyteller.”
The Marvels is currently in production, and slated to hit theaters on February 17, 2023.
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