Even 'The Marvels' director Nia DaCosta is confused by the MCU: 'What the hell does any of this s--- mean?'

  • Director Nia DaCosta told Vanity Fair she was confused about the MCU while filming a scene in "The Marvels."

  • Her feelings are shared by critics and fans alike.

  • Since "Avengers: Endgame," the Marvel Cinematic Universe has lost track of its larger purpose.

It's not just you. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also confusing to its directors.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, "The Marvels" director Nia DaCosta recalled some frustrations of working on the "Captain Marvel" sequel.

Though DaCosta said she enjoyed working on the film, there were times she texted fellow Marvel director Destin Daniel Cretton (2021's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings") saying she felt "overwhelmed" or "stressed."

"Sometimes you'd be in a scene and you'd be like, 'What the hell does any of this s--- mean?'" DaCosta told Vanity Fair.

DaCosta's likely not alone.

Does anyone really know what's going on with the latest installment of MCU shows and movies or what they're working toward?

A reason the first 22 (!) films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were such a huge success was because there was a clear path of what the movies were building towards.

Six powerful gems called "infinity stones" were introduced throughout multiple movies. The franchise's overall big bad, Josh Brolin's Thanos, gathered them all together in "Avengers: Infinity War" in a cliffhanger for the ages to decimate half of all existence from the world.

thanos
Fans knew for years that everything would lead to Thanos' eventual showdown with Iron Man.Disney/Marvel

"Infinity War" and its sequel, "Avengers: Endgame," went on to become two of the highest-grossing movies of all time.

In trying to capitalize on its massive success, Marvel Studios ordered more of everything Marvel. More shows! More movies! More, more, more. Currently, a dozen returning and new shows and at least 11 more movies are in the works.

But it hasn't led to bigger returns — quite the opposite.

Dubbed "The Multiverse Saga," the nine movies and 12 shows and specials released since "Endgame" lack a clear direction, interconnectivity, and stakes, as projects have spent time adding more and more disparate characters to the universe instead of focusing on a core group akin to the Avengers.

Directors have parted ways with Marvel over not seeing eye to eye or having different visions for their projects. "Doctor Strange" director Scott Derrickson famously departed its sequel over "creative differences." More recently, director Bassam Tariq left 2025's "Blade" reboot.

Maybe the latest round of shows and films will all intersect with Jonathan Majors' villain Kang, who has appeared in multiple titles, but his recent delayed domestic violence trial could derail Marvel's long-term MCU plan.

Jonathan Majors as Kang in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."
Jonathan Majors as Kang in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."Marvel Studios/Disney

The last Marvel movie to cross $1 billion (not counting Marvel's partnership with Sony for the Spidey films) was 2019's "Avengers: Endgame." (2022's "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" came close with $955 million worldwide.)

A string of recent releases — "Thor 4," "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," "Eternals" — have been ridiculed by critics and fans. "Quantumania" in particular was the lowest-rated MCU movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes — it was an isolated, skippable Marvel movie that did little to advance the MCU's plot.

The current "phases" of Marvel are overly complex, introducing far too many characters to keep up with and creating loose ends that have been left untended for years.

There's the Guardians of the Galaxy team, the Eternals, Thor's Asgardians, Ant-Man's extended family and friends, the Wakandans of the "Black Panther" franchise, a version of Loki floating through multiverses, Nick Fury in space, a scorned underwater king and his tribe, and a handful of many other superheroes and their accompanying secondary and tertiary friends to keep straight.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
Surely, not all of the Guardians will survive "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3."Marvel Studios

Keeping up with the Marvel machine is starting to feel like homework, with viewers turning their attention elsewhere.

DaCosta's recent interview makes it seem like that was the case for her, too.

For as much as she enjoyed helping to build a part of the MCU, one Marvel movie may be enough. She told Vanity Fair the experience made her more interested in building a world of her own.

"It is a Kevin Feige production, it's his movie," DaCosta said. "I tried to go in with the knowledge that some of you is going to take a back seat."

A representative for DaCosta did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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