Marvel has a lot of things going wrong with them, given their consistent failures at the box office. There’s so many problems that the studio faces that it’s become normal to see a Marvel title fail. But this time Marvel’s bosses did the job of attracting attention, by accusing the director for their latest failure.
Disney is making Nia DaCosta, the director of The Marvels, bear the brunt for its record-breaking failure. Two leaks to Hollywood’s biggest news outlets imply that DaCosta had abandoned the film after it completed shooting. Variety says that she left for London when the film was in post. DaCosta is also helming Hedda, starring Tessa Thompson. The Hollywood Reporter says that DaCosta missed out on a cast-and-crew screening of The Marvels. She had, however, attended the premiere of the film days before this screening. Disney CEO Bob Iger decided to blame the whole creative department, for a change. At the New York Times DealBook summit, Iger says that executive personnel weren’t able to be physically present on set, because of the pandemic. The Marvels has been reshuffled in the calendar too many times because of it, and required four weeks of reshoots. Fans have given mixed reviews about the film, and it is already the lowest opening title for the studio.
Given these failures, The MARVELS is not the studio’s worst film. Both Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion have flaws that are much more problematic in comparison to The Marvels. Neither title’s director was put at fault for these performances. Then why is Nia DaCosta the only one being pointed fingers at?
DaCosta isn’t going down without a fight. Marvel is somehow silent about its constant readjustment of release dates, which is now a common occurrence. DaCosta had accordingly changed her plans for the London schedule of Hedda. But Marvel spun her around as usual, and DaCosta made the only responsible decision there was: to give her time to Hedda, a greenlit project that was left idle. She had also made sure that everything that was left was perfectly manageable remotely. Everyone also on board with the final cut long after DaCosta had left. It really is foolish to portray her as someone who did not give her 100% into making the film. With all executives happy, what right does the studio have to turn in DaCosta as the reason for failure? By this account, even they have to be held accountable for not looking close enough for flaws. The fault is certainly not entirely DaCosta’s.
Even more astounding is the reason behind DaCosta’s absence at the screening: she was never invited to it. The screening also happened to fall on her birthday. The studio implied that she was out celebrating while the oh-so-responsible execs were standing by their work. DaCosta was never aware of it, only knowing of it when the crew invited to her birthday party informed her. Her representative said that it was “disrespectful” to imply that DaCosta didn’t have enough “adoration for her creative team”. She also made DaCosta’s dedication to her team firm, and that “she would do anything for her cast and crew”.
DaCosta is a welcome series of firsts for Marvel. She is the youngest, and the first African-American director to lead a film for the studio. She is part of the miniscule tribe of female directors that have worked with Marvel. Whenever Marvel has appointed a female director or writer, it is done with an aim to have a proper female perspective in the plot. And they have delivered on that idea. Writer Megan McDonnell builds upon the very strong foundations of Captain Marvel laid by co-writers Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve. DaCosta combines the written glory of the three leads in The Marvels, and she has done a good job at that.
But perhaps The Marvels faulted her depiction of Dar-Benn, the film’s antagonist. Dar-Benn’s character was not explored as much, and also did not have enough screen time. Many also theorize that Marvel fandom’s extremely masculine section might’ve influenced the negative impression of the film. Until Captain Marvel, all of Marvel’s films have been largely targeted at the male section of the audience. Female action heroes are not seen in the same light as their male counterparts, despite Marvel doing a good job at their characterization. All 3 superheroes in The Marvels put up a good fight, and yes, the plot does seem a little far-fetched. But there are clearly plenty other factors that Marvel fails to take responsibility for.
The studio has inundated screens on a rampant basis, ever since Endgame ended Phase 4. Marvel was staring at the deep void left by the absence of its frontrunner characters, and venturing into a different storyline. The multiverse concept requires a heap of elements to be in order. Both the studio and fans find it difficult to keep up with the timeline. Marvel wasn’t as busy as it is now, even with its big 6 during the Avengers heydays. An onslaught of characters were launched, some written with half the depth than those in The Marvels. Buzz around The Marvels had begun in an already dampened atmosphere. Also, filmmakers work in extremely restricted areas when it comes to creativity are issues that the studio is yet to address. These are all glaring factors that stare at Marvel, yet it singles out DaCosta to bear the fall.
If Marvel finds it necessary to blame their own director, then it also has to address everything else at fault. It’s not very professional to throw baseless allegations at the creator who has given her best, especially during the pandemic. Nia DaCosta has been let down by Marvel executives, which could make prospective directors reconsider about working with them. In its exhausting list of problems, Marvel also seems to be needing to work on treating their own kind justly.