A couple of months ago, AMC spoke with CAPTAIN MARVEL co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck about the character Carol Danvers, her unique powers, the unconventional setting of the film and so much more.
At the time, they were still racing through an elaborate post-production process to ensure that CAPTAIN MARVEL looked as close to perfect as possible. “This is a group of people, us included, who just want to keep making everything better to the last moment,” Boden said. “So, people are going to have to pull us away from the editing bay. That's basically the long and the short of it. Of course, there's visual effects. We’re constantly getting new, big visual-effect shots. We’re refining the music. We just started mixing. It's all crescendoing.”
CAPTAIN MARVEL introduces audiences to the character Carol Danvers, played by Brie Larson. Carol is half human and half Kree, which is a militaristic race of alien warriors. As opposed to previous Marvel origin stories, though, Carol already has her powers when we first meet her. And over the course of the movie, we learn about her human past as she learns about it as well.
“One of the things about this movie that we love so much is that it has one foot in all of that stuff you're describing, these kind of cosmic space battles,” Boden said. “We get introduced to different alien creatures that we haven't met before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cultures. And then, the other foot is very firmly in this kind of natural, Earth-based world, as Carol Danvers discovers who she is and discovers her past. So, it's been really fun and really challenging to balance both of those things.”
Fleck then opened up about one of Carol’s specific powers, adding, “Something from the comic books that we did find challenging early on was the character of Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, does something that's called ‘Binary,’ where basically she becomes sort of a glowing light-based figure. And we weren't exactly sure how we were going to be able to pull that off. So, thankfully the visual effects people and the people here at Marvel were able to work together and come up with something pretty spectacular.”
Boden and Fleck have worked together on numerous movies over the years, but their projects — from the baseball drama SUGAR to the gambling film MISSISSIPPI GRIND — have been dialogue driven and lighter on action. When asked about their approach to the type of action usually showcased in a Marvel movie, Boden explained, “We have so many different types of action sequences in this movie, which is part of what has been really fun about it. Like I said, some of this takes place in the cosmos and on other planets. And some of it takes place very firmly on Earth. In some of the trailers, you've seen that there's like a subway scene, and it's just very kind of down and dirty, you know, people fighting on the subway [with a] car chase. Kind of that 1970s film style action.”
“And then we also explored having mostly CGI kind of space battles at the end,” Boden continued. “This movie takes us through so many different kinds of action. And that has been really fun. Mostly, we try to explore those sequences and those set pieces from our main character and just, you know, what is this about for her? And ground her, ground us in it, and then beyond that, we like to look at our favorite movies and get into the things that inspired us when we were growing up and we were filmmakers. But there are certain themes. Rough-and-tumble, hand-held, just-catch-what-you-can kind of filmmaking. And then there are other sequences that are more deliberate and planned out and choreographed in very specific ways between the fighting and the camera work. We had fun with both on this movie.”
When asked about specific movies that influenced their direction on CAPTAIN MARVEL, Boden and Fleck rattled off a laundry list of exciting classics that included THE FRENCH CONNECTION, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, LA FEMME NIKITA and the Westerns of Sergio Leone.
One very specific aspect of CAPTAIN MARVEL that sets it apart from the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is its setting. The movie acts as a prequel in the MCU and takes place in the 1990s. This was made clear in the first CAPTAIN MARVEL trailer, which saw the cosmic superhero crash land on Earth by busting through the ceiling of a Blockbuster Video.
But Boden and Fleck also are using the ‘90s setting to explore some recognizable music from the decade. “We can't compete with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. [That] was its own special thing,” Boden joked. “But we do have a movie that takes place in the ‘90s, and you will hear some ‘90s music, hopefully stuff that reminds you of the past. We're playing a lot with songs that we forgot about or just haven't heard in a long time, but that really bring us back to a certain moment.”
Taking advantage of the 1990s setting also means flashing back to a time when cellphones weren’t prevalent. “You're going to see her … there will be some MacGyvering using strange space stuff and a payphone,” Fleck said.
Boden added, “This was also the birth of the internet. There's a lot of fun stuff to play with, just remembering the idea of having this woman from a super-advanced technological place dropped down not only on Earth, but on 1990s Earth, there’s some fodder in there.”
Obviously, none of this fun stuff in CAPTAIN MARVEL works unless you have a compelling comic book character and a talented actress to help bring her to life. And Boden and Fleck gush about the Oscar®-winning lead actress and her commitment to the project.
“I think that [Brie] amazed herself with how much she was able to do in this movie,” Boden said. “And that's saying a lot because she's, as you said, an Oscar winner and obviously has done a lot of movies where she shows an incredible range of emotions. Her performance was equally arresting and dynamic for us on set. Just watching her be herself and be human. And then on top of that, she trained for over a year. She did so many of her own stunts. She really amazed us with her ability to just focus and never give up and be super committed to that aspect of it, too. That was really fun to watch.”
And it paid off. CAPTAIN MARVEL showcases a character who, as Fleck says, is “the most powerful superhero in the MCU.”
“At the beginning of our movie, she doesn't know how powerful she is,” Fleck continued. “But by the end, you'll see that, uh … let's just say this: I'm very excited to see what she does to Thanos in ENDGAME.”
Soar through the cosmos with Brie Larson in CAPTAIN MARVEL, now playing at AMC.