Before Captain Marvel became the hero we know and love, she was Carol Danvers, an accomplished pilot in the United States Air Force. She then became the head of security at NASA, where she was exposed to an alien device that caused her to gain superhuman abilities.
When we meet Carol (Brie Larson) in CAPTAIN MARVEL, she’s fighting alongside Kree warriors in Starforce, an outer space SEAL Team Six on a mission to take down the shapeshifting Skrulls. Despite her impressive powers — flight, strength and Photon Blast — she gets captured by the enemy and sent back to Earth, which wouldn’t be so bad if she knew who she really is.
“A lot of the movie is Carol not remembering her past,” said producer Jonathan Schwartz. She believes she’s a Kree, not a human-Kree hybrid, but with help from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), she starts to put the pieces back together.
Friendship and Empowerment
Maria was Carol’s best friend and a fellow fighter pilot. After Carol disappeared, Maria grieved her death — they were like sisters. “They’re in a male-oriented industry,” Lynch said. “All they have is each other as female fighter pilots.” When Carol returns, Maria “almost has to remind Carol who she is, where she came from, what she represents, who she’s about and the mark that she can place on the world through this power she’s now gained.”
Maria is a powerful character in her own right. She’s a single mother to Monica Rambeau — who becomes the first female to take on the Captain Marvel mantle in the comics — and “very strong, very bold, very in control of herself” as Lynch described her.
“The Maria dynamic is really important in this movie,” Larson said. “She’s the representation of love in this film,” which has real emotional depth in addition to out-of-this-world action.
Becoming a Superhero
Becoming “one of the most, if not the most, powerful character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” according to Schwartz, was no easy task. To prepare for the role, Larson did nine months of intense training. “It’s really become a huge part of how I learned more about her and became her and embodied her was through [training] — was through discovering my own strength,” Larson said.
On top of the physical toll, Larson “had to go through every emotion possible with her.” “All of my heroes were just unapologetically themselves,” Larson said. “And they were flawed at times, and that’s OK. So for me, that’s part of who Carol is, too. She’s flawed. She’s not perfect.”
Additionally, Carol/Captain Marvel is the first female lead in a Marvel film that precedes all other Marvel films in the MCU timeline. (No pressure, right?)
“Very early in the development process, we seized on the idea of setting it in the 90s to let the character carve out her own space in the Cinematic Universe and give her a lot of thematic weight and significance to the Universe,” Schwartz said. “It’s more or less this adventure that’s going to inspire a lot of what we see in the MCU.”
A New Origin Story
Though the film is based on the Marvel comics, the storyline and character are not exactly the same. The filmmakers leaned into Carol’s Air Force roots and the inspirational nature of her character.
“This character has gone through a whole bunch of different changes over the years,” co-director Ryan Fleck said, but the filmmakers locked into comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick’s version, which is “modern, vibrant and cool” in Schwartz’s words. DeConnick was a consultant on the film and even makes a cameo.
“So many of our references and our ideas of who this person [Carol/Captain Marvel] was and things that we had pitched in a room to the Marvel folks, to Kevin Feige, about what we thought this character was, were similar to her references and her touchstones,” co-director Anna Boden said. “It just goes to show what an amazing writer she is that she was able to express so much of that musically through the comics. It felt like we really connected with her.”
Larson added, “I was just so honored to receive her blessing and to see how excited she was. That felt like a relief to me, because she pushed this forward. We wouldn’t be here without her, really. I’m so grateful for that character she created.”
What Makes Captain Marvel Super
Fans will love to see Captain Marvel on the big screen for the first time, not only her full range of incredible powers, but also her tenderness.
“What we love telling about this story is that as a character, as a superhero, as she becomes more and more in touch with her humanity … she becomes the most powerful,” Boden said. “She has her own self-discovery.”
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