Home » Marvel’s first Black female director shatters box office records with ‘The Marvels’

Marvel’s first Black female director shatters box office records with ‘The Marvels’

Shattering ceilings: DaCosta's unprecedented journey in superhero filmmaking

by Motoni Olodun
Nia DaCosta

Nia Dacosta, an American filmmaker has shattered records as a Black female director with the highest-grossing film, surpassing Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” with a gross of $161 million worldwide.  The Marvels, a superhero movie, and a sequel to the 2019 Captain Marvel, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe also made history as the first Marvel movie to be directed by a black woman. 

Born on Nov. 8, 1989, DaCosta is an American filmmaker making a significant impact in the film industry. She originally aspired to become a poet but became interested in films when she was exposed to the work of Joseph Conrad in her English class at the age of 16. She then went on to study cinema during the Hollywood Era and was inspired by people like Martin Scorcese and Steven Spielberg, and later enrolled at New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

After graduating, DaCosta began working as a television production assistant, working alongside top filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Steve McQueen and Steven Soderbergh. Her big break came in 2018 when she wrote and directed the crime thriller “Little Woods,” which was one of 12 projects selected for the Sundance Screenwriter-Director Lab in 2015. The film won the Nora Ephron Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. After Little Woods ended, DaCosta directed two episodes of the crime drama, “Top Boy.” In 2021, she also directed the horror film “Candyman,” which debuted at No. 1 at the North American box office, a first for a Black female director.

DaCosta’s work is known for telling fearless and bold stories and shedding light on important social issues, highlighting the importance of active women telling stories rather than passive characters in male-dominated films.

DaCostas’ most recent project, “The Marvels,” which she co-wrote and directed, had a huge impact on the film industry, but the hype for the film, which had a budget of $270 million, and was expected to make around $450 million at the box office to be considered a success was limited. However, it opened to $47 million in North America and $63 million internationally, making it the lowest opening weekend in franchise history.

“The Marvels” itself is brilliant for its various solid lady protagonists, such as Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan. This representation of diverse women in main roles in a major superhero film is significant. It challenges traditional superhero narratives and provides audiences with characters that more accurately mirror the diversity of the world.

Critics have been divided on the movie. Some praised its action, and the dynamic among the three leads, while others criticized the movie’s use of humour, choppy script, and uninspiring villain. Some critics even went as far as to name it the worst movie within the MCU.

Despite mixed reviews and poor box office performance, “The Marvels” had a huge cultural impact on the Black community and is a success when it comes to diversity and representation in Hollywood. This is a particularly important milestone in an industry historically dominated by white male directors.

DaCosta’s accomplishments have opened doors for other Black filmmakers and women, showing that they too can make big-budget superhero films.

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