The climax of the pilot episode of the Disney Plus series lady marvel looks like it was designed for freezers, screencappers, and “all the Easter eggs you’ve missed” list writers. The setting is dense with playful references, and the action moves incredibly fast, with a montage going through dozens of characters and scenarios.
Belgian filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, the show’s producers who helmed the pilot and episode 6 of the six-episode opening season, say this sequel was the highlight of their work on the show and their directorial career in general. El Arbi and Fallah, who have been working together since film school, previously collaborated in 2020 bad boys continuation bad boys for life and the Belgian police thrillers Black and gangsta. They are currently in post-production on the DC Extended Universe movie. batgirl. but they say lady marvel it’s where they’ve had the most fun in their career – including giving a specific look to an action sequence that was just a vague overview in the script they were given.
[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for episode 1 of Ms. Marvel.]
Most of the first episode of lady marvel is built around the introduction of 16-year-old Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), a Muslim girl who lives in New Jersey and daydreams about the superheroes who have become the superstars of her world. She’s particularly obsessed with Captain Marvel, and she’s put together a cosplay outfit that she’s excited to wear to a costume contest at a local fan meeting called AvengerCon.
“It was the most fun set we’ve ever had,” El Arbi tells Polygon. “We were there taking pictures, playing with all the toys, and the producer had to pick us up and focus on directing because we were having so much fun. It was an Easter egg paradise.”
“So many details you can see – you must go filming. Everywhere, something is happening,” Fallah says.
“It’s a real tribute to the fans,” says El Arbi. “I think the fandom is the most important aspect of these movies and shows, and without them, you don’t have any blockbuster Marvel movies or superheroes. And I hope the fans appreciate what we’ve tried to do to acknowledge them and acknowledge their love for these works. So that was a great pleasure, a great tribute to them.”
The duo say production designer Christopher Glass and his team are naturally Marvel fans, so everyone contributed ideas and props to fill the set. El Arbi characterizes the directors’ instructions as “OK folks, it’s AvengerCon, everybody go loco!”
“They’re all fans, they were all fans, so they all had ideas,” Fallah says.
According to El Arbi, the duo did so much footage that they had a hard time getting it down to a reasonable size for the convention montage, but early audiences ended up wanting more. “We shoot so much footage,” he laughs. “Our director’s cut version had such a long sequence that [the producers] made a shorter version. And then [after] the test audience, they made a version that was more time than our director’s cut. He had all our pictures in it, it was like, All good! Very cool!”
Fallah and El Arbi also credit Glass for the episode’s big action sequence, where a giant-sized statue of Ant-Man loses its mind, which rolls around the convention, smashing walls and creating havoc. They say the sequel wasn’t scripted with any details in mind – the idea was just that Kamala’s newfound powers would go wrong and make some sort of mess.
Fallah says that moment was their favorite part of the entire AvengerCon sequel, and the part they most want fans to enjoy: “It’s the biggest moment, Ant-Man’s head falling on them.”
Both say Glass hinted at the sequel in a tribute to the iconic Raiders of the Lost Ark sequence in which the protagonist Indiana Jones escapes from a giant rolling stone inside a hidden tomb full of traps. “It wasn’t in the script,” says El Arbi. “The script was a foundation, and then we were crazy about it. And while we were brainstorming with Chris—”
“We wanted to have destruction,” Fallah interjects. “So Chris Glass came up with—”
“How about a giant Ant-Man head that just falls off?El Arbi says. “Yea! Let’s do like Indiana Jones! And that’s what happened.”