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Ms. Marvel Director Meera Menon Dishes On Kamala's Powers, Possible MCU Team-Ups, And CGI - Exclusive Interview

This episode contains mild spoilers for Episode 2 of "Ms. Marvel."

Many Disney+ MCU shows thus far have stuck to one director for the series' entire run. But like "Hawkeye" and "Moon Knight," "Ms. Marvel" is doing things differently, opting for multiple directors to tackle different episodes. While Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah helmed directing for Episodes 1 and 6, Meera Menon took on Episodes 2 and 3. 

The tag-team directing has been a nice shake-up for the series, with multiple voices helping shape the dynamic show. Menon isn't a stranger to directing Marvel series, however. In 2019, she directed an episode of "The Punisher" called "The Abyss." Menon has also helmed an episode of "The Walking Dead," "Fear the Walking Dead," "Glow," "You," and "Titans," along with two episodes of "Outlander" and four episodes apiece of "The Magicians" and "For All Mankind." 

Menon has taken what she's learned on those major shows to help inform her direction in "Ms. Marvel" — and the final results speak for themselves. During an exclusive interview with Looper, Menon dished on the creation of Kamala's powers, Captain Marvel's influence on the series, what she'd like to see from a possible America Chavez team-up, and what she would think of a "Punisher" and "Ms. Marvel" crossover. The director also made an interesting "Star Wars" comparison to the show's extensive CGI. 

Ms. Marvel's marvelous powers

Captain Marvel's inspiration is palpable all throughout the show. What aspects of her powers and presence did you most want to shine through the series?

The power set, in general, was a conversation in terms of how it would be communicated and represented in the series for Kamala. It was a conversation that was much bigger than this show. It was about the future of where this character is going to go and how it's going to play out in other installments of various movies and series throughout the MCU.

That was maybe a bit of a duck [of the question], but it's a bit above my pay grade to have known and determined what the power set was going to be, because it is so much about the broadness of the storytelling that Kevin Feige has in his chamber of a mind that holds all of these stories.

Once we knew the general direction that the powers were supposed to go in, our job was to figure out the storytelling behind "How does she get there?" How does she get there once she discovers she has these powers? What is the process she goes through to figure out how to control them, how to wield them, how to shape them, [and] how to strengthen her own self? She's not the most athletic girl, as Episode 1 makes clear. Those are the conversations we were having in terms of what to do in our episodes.

A Young Avengers team-up?

The MCU just introduced another powerful teen, America Chavez, in "Doctor Strange." Is there any chance we might see a team-up between her and Kamala? What would you most like to see from that exchange if it were to happen?

I want to see girl power, but I don't know. I couldn't answer whether or not it's going to happen, but I want to see the beauty of female collaboration, as I want to see in life.

This isn't your first stint in the Marvel universe. You directed an episode of "The Punisher" as well. What were some highlights from that experience? Are there any characters from "The Punisher" world that you'd love to see interact with "Ms. Marvel" characters? New York and New Jersey are pretty close.

I love the way you said that. I don't know. That's such a dark world. They're so different. I want Kamala to stay a little more innocent than what ... What he has to go through, the PTSD — that show's about PTSD, about trauma, about the worst thing that could happen to you, and "How do you ever get over it?" It's always about the actors and how much truth and how much authenticity and how much they are bringing to these characters to make them feel full and three-dimensional. Jon Bernthal is up there among the best of any actor that's ever done it in terms of fully embodying a superhero or a backstory that's not necessarily easy shoes to fill.

Directorial inspiration one project at a time

A lot of the Disney+ series so far have been directed by one director. Did you collaborate at all with the other series directors? Why do you think splitting up the episodes was the right move for "Ms. Marvel"? What does having multiple voices telling this story bring to the show?

That was a decision the studio made for a reason. When we saw it all come together, that reason became apparent, which is that we all bring such different things to the table. The show benefits from that collage. The show really does feel like a blend of so many different things — culturally, visually, everything, tonally. 

They know what they're doing. That is the understatement of the century. Marvel knows. News flash: Marvel knows what they're doing.

You've also directed episodes of some major shows like "The Walking Dead," "You," "The Magicians," and "For All Mankind." How did those experiences help prepare you for "Ms. Marvel" episodes? Did you bring anything that you learned from those sets to this one?

Every show I do gives me lessons that I bring forward with me to the next show. All of those shows ... "The Magicians" was a great show because it was a show that was driven by practical effects. When we could, we tried to approach things practically on "Ms. Marvel" as well, other than things relating to her superpowers. But we tried to do things as real as possible and make them feel as real as possible.

Any time I work with an actor, I learn more and more about what is required to make them feel as free as possible to be as present in the moment as they can be. On all of those shows, I could point to any number of actors that have taught me more and more about how hard that job is and how so much of my job is to make them feel safe enough to do their job.

Dissecting CGI, Star Wars-style

There are some pretty epic scenes in the second episode of "Ms. Marvel." Can you walk us through how you achieved some of those wild mid-air stunt sequences and what those moments might look like without the CGI?

Could I? It's very strange because sometimes I'm like, "What can I say? What can I not say?" Without the CGI, it would look very silly. I'll say that. I remember in film school, one of my sound professors worked on "Star Wars," and he showed us a scene without sound design. It looked like tin cans rolling down cavernous hallways. R2-D2 seemed like a toy without sound design. 

Similarly, when Kamala is saving the little boy from dangling on the edge of the mosque, that whole sequence ... Some of it was filmed on location. Some of it was filmed on a sound stage, entirely on [a] blue screen. Some of it was filmed on a set that was half-built. There were so many different sets that that sequence was built on that were stitched together into one cohesive thing. If you saw the raw material of that, it wouldn't even make sense. You'd be like, "Where is she standing? What is she doing?" It's so technical at that point.

New episodes of "Ms. Marvel" stream Wednesdays on Disney+.

This interview was edited for clarity.