‘The Marvels’ and the Undue Crucifixion of Nia DaCosta

Just Say Y'all Hate Black Women And Be Done With It
The Marvels

The Marvels was a fun flick to watch and did everything a comic book movie should do. It’s a strange thing to talk about a movie this long after its release, but it raised several issues across the interwebs that need to be addressed. The Marvels is the latest entry in the serial blockbuster machine that is the MCU, and it seems like all it had to do to make headlines is exist and be woman-centric. Much like its predecessor, Captain Marvel, the film had to defend itself before it was even released. We’ll talk about the movie, the blowback, and the impact.

It’s a Comic Book Movie

Mind you, The Marvels is great. Doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but it has a different approach to the genre. It’s not the box office smash the MCU expected, but a gigantic and very well-publicized writer’s and actor’s strike could have more to with those box office numbers. However, you won’t hear about that by and large. More importantly, there is no honest and true connection between the gross of a film and the quality of said film.

Don’t believe the hype, or the hyper-hate for that matter. The Marvels goes hard in the paint in a way all its own. It’s not the darker or more bleak or more action-centric comic book movies that have dominated theaters over the last decade and a half. If anything, The Marvels plays out like a hybrid of two different generations and two mediums of comic book media. All of the wit, quirkiness, and color play of Ang Lee’s Hulk (not well received, but well made) and Favreau’s Iron Man (the cornerstone of the MCU) with the grounded, emotional depth of every other entry in the MCU. It has great action elements, cool set pieces, some dope space exploration, and all of that.

Monica Rambeau (Teyonnah Parris) bringing Black women back into space. Image courtesy of Marvel Studios (2024)

And Fun Too!

Then, it dares to sprinkle in fun…of all things. And it is a wonderful and (forgive the pun) marvelous thing. Despite housing at least two of the most powerful characters in the MCU (and two prevalent comic book characters), the movie features action pieces but isn’t centered on the action. It draws the audience into the emotions and motivations and keeps the plot at the forefront. The Marvels was indeed as advertised: higher, further, faster. And also, different.

Several scenes have this delightful comedic timing that transports me back to my living room. For real, it was like watching a funny television show at times and in the best way. The musical interlude on the planet Aladna was so different from anything else in the Marvel catalog. That’s what used to be so defining about comic book movies: they were different from mainstream Hollywood. Now, comic book movies are Hollywood.

A Good Movie at That

Let’s be clear and establish this metric type quick. There are movies made technically well that don’t hit and there are movies made terribly that are received well. We’re not even going to get the time to talk about the undeniable, unrelenting, and unmistakable chemistry between costars Iman Vellani, Teyonnah Parris, and Brie Larson. Deadass, The Marvels was made very well. So well in fact that I can’t quite understand why director and writer Nia DaCosta caught so much flack for it.

Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and Photon (Teyonnah Parris) are suited and booted. Image courtesy of Marvel Studios (2024)

Folks were tight that DaCosta left the production for the UK before they were wrapped, but that’s where she was slated to be for her next project when The Marvels overtime for reshoots. Then it was review bombed before major release and criticized by either sexist Comicsgaters or sexist conservative politicians. For real? The elected officials who spend so much time designing the misery of the non-white existence through the law had to weigh in on The Marvels? Was there no other globally renounced and universally unlawful enaction of war crimes and human rights violations to focus on?

So much vitriol and outright opposition got thrown DaCosta’s way that she had to address it in an interview before the movie even came out! Mind you, this interview is after the WGA strike and after virtually no true and honest press run for the film due to the strike. What little time she had to speak about the movie was hobbled by having to defend it first.

The press run that never was. [l. to r.]: Iman Vellani, Nia DaCosta, Teyonnah Parris, & Brie Larson

Then, folks got on the movie after release as if the critic score was indicative of the movie itself being bad. When in quick succession, Napoleon, Aquaman 2, The Boys in the Boat, Wish, and a slew of other films scored worse than The Marvels, and with none of the same high-profile oppositional fuckery. Unfortunately, this opens the door for the obvious question: If none of the scrutiny has merit, why is Nia Dacosta and by extension the cast and crew of The Marvels being lambasted unjustly? You know? All I can say is…

Y’all Gon Leave Nia DaCosta Alone

Look here, y’all gonna leave this woman alone. Folks came after Nia like she came out of nowhere and ain’t never did nothing. Meanwhile, Nia DaCosta has helmed three films and each one showcases her visionary lens. Her first two feature films, Little Woods and Candyman had her working with A-list actors and renown production studios. People had words for her exit from The Marvels set to start her next project – but EVERY director does that very same thing. Again, what is the reasoning behind this particular level of scrutiny, hate, and downplaying?

Just Say You Hate (Black) Women

Somehow, in the last two presidential cycles, white folks got a hold of the phrase ‘woke’ and dissolved aspects of the social fabric that existed between the two Americas. Right-wing trolls, misogynists, and every intersection where those ideologies meet have utilized the phrase as an umbrella for anything and everything that pushes back against the status quo. When ‘woke’ is weaponized, it is often in the direction of women-led projects. The Marvels, the live-action Little Mermaid, Wish, Barbie – each faced this enfeebled and virulent platform and have had to answer for pushing a ‘woke’ agenda.

Brooklyn’s own, writer/director Nia DaCosta.

Mind you, woke is a Black colloquialism that refers to not falling for a trick and not taking the American dream at face value. Staying awake. Watching fools with no understanding of a phrase use that phrase with their whole chest and, in reality say nothing but affect everything, is terrible. But ultimately, they are wrong.

We are in the midst of a series of reckonings the world over. One such reckoning will regard how women are treated in all facets of society. The way women in media have been crucified by gender politics cannot be overlooked or undersold. Neither can Nia DaCosta’s vision of bringing Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Photon to the big screen and the impact it will have on generations of young women.

You can judge for yourself, when The Marvels is available for digital release on January 16th and physical release on February 13th.

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  • Poet, MC, Nerd, All-Around Problem. Lover of words, verse, and geek media from The Bronx, NYC.

  • Show Comments

  • Carla D.

    All Of This.
    I went to this movie twice. One time with my friends, all of us adults, comic nerds, women, and Black.
    And I went again but with my 10th grade niece and three of her friends. All girls, 1 of them White.
    Both times I saw it, we all had fun.
    I have a coworker who took his kids 2 boys and 1 girl to see it. Everybody wanted to see Captain Marvel and they wanted to see the two superhero’s from Disney + Ms Marvel and Monica from WandaVision.
    The boys ldidn’t care who directed it. They liked the action.
    If there wasn’t a strike they all might have been on TV before the movie opened and more people woul have known about the movie from jump.
    When it finally is on Disney+ or where ever and when the BluRay comes out, people will see how good the movie is and they will wonder why all the hate.

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