“Black girl magic” is a phrase that has proliferated pop culture, but it began as a Tweet. “In 2013, I remember being upset about the number and frequency of this media storm that was basically coming for our necks,” CaShawn Thompson explained to Black History Untold. “The last straw was something that was said about Serena Williams. And I said, ‘I don’t know what they are talking about. Black girls are magic.'”
The hashtag turned into a movement meant to celebrate the achievements of Black women, whether it’s the superstar abilities of Williams or the ordinary magic of Thompson’s grandma’s cooking abilities.
It’s an apt phrase for “The Marvels,” which primarily centers women of color in front of and behind the camera, including its villain, Dar-Benn, played by Zawe Ashton. When Nick Fury implores Monica to tap into her own Black girl magic, it’s in part a tongue-in-cheek reference to her otherworldly powers. But it is also an exhortation that Monica embraces her inner confidence and self-assuredness, no matter how much literal magic is involved.
“The Marvels” isn’t the first Marvel project to invoke Black girl magic. In an article for Essence, Charisma Deberry detailed the moving experience of seeing the Dora Milaje’s choreographed entrance at Disney’s Avengers Campus. “At that moment, it dawned on me that I had never experienced Black women celebrated so boldly at a theme park,” she wrote. Nick Fury’s battlecry confirms that the celebration will continue to be felt on the big screen.