We are just weeks away from Brie Larson’s debut performance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel. A new sneak peek at Captain Marvel dropped last night, and surprise – fan favorite Agent Coulson is back. Coulson’s “resurrection” on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after seemly dying in The Avengers was an odd if welcomed retcon for the character. Now we will get another full-length feature with our favorite S.H.E.I.L.D agent.
Captain Marvel, the next chapter of the MCU, is helmed by Mississippi Grind co-directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, who were also tapped to pen the script. It’s a period piece set in the 1990s that will chronicle the character’s origin story as an Air Force pilot, explain how she got her powers, and clue us in to exactly where she’s been the past few years. It’s a perfectly timed preamble to Avengers: Endgame, in which Captain is poised to play a large part in the narrative, hopefully rescuing almost everyone from Thanos’ snap.
This summer, Rotten Tomatoes visited the set of Captain Marvel and sat down with Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, and the filmmakers to talk about Marvel’s first standalone female superhero movie, the legacy of 10 years in the MCU, and, strangely enough, the acting skills of tabby cats. Here are six key takeaways from our chat with cast and filmmakers of Captain Marvel.
Jonathan Schwartz (Producer): There’s comedy involved. I mean, tonally it’s not quite the same [as Guardians of the Galaxy]. Ryan and Anna have their own kind of humor and their own kind of drama that they’re importing onto Captain Marvel. So, yes, there’ll be comedic moments, but there’ll also be a lot of drama as well, a lot of a motion, a lot of things you expect out of Marvel movies.
Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury): Well, when Carol and Fury first cross paths, she’s just a crazy lady that broke into Blockbuster. She’s standing there telling me that she came from some planet. She’s got on strange clothes and she’s saying that there are these shape-shifting people that have infiltrated Earth. And we’re kind of looking at her like a normal person would look at a person who tells you something like that. “Yeah, right.” [laughs]
Schwartz: You guys met our team of cats? They’re very vocal. There’s four cats. In order to have a cat on screen – this is what I learned doing this movie – you have to have a team of cats who all have a specialty. So there’s like a cat that you hold and a cat that rubs up on your leg and a cat that will swipe at you and a cat that’s just the face cat. [The face cat] probably gets paid more.
Rotten Tomatoes: Is the cat a Flerken? [They’re dangerous alien creatures from the Marvel comics that resemble cats.]
Schwartz: Mmm, pass. I will say Carol’s friend is a very important part of the comics that we thought would be really cool to see in a movie.
Jackson: She’s pretty much the strongest character in terms of powers… so it’s gonna be a dynamite thing.
Anna Boden (Co-Writer/Director): She is the most powerful character we have seen in a Marvel movie, and it’s really exciting to see her journey of finding that.
Brie Larson (Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers): The fact that she is just herself, and cannot be contained, is pretty awesome. She’s like wild and that’s part of what I love.
Jackson: They’re up against some really, really tough odds throughout Avengers: Infinity War, so we know we need something that’s as powerful as Thanos. And she’s one of the few people in the Marvel Universe that can time travel.
Schwartz: It really is a self-contained story, and it will tell you everything about that character who shows up in Avengers: Endgame. It’ll lead very organically into what you saw at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. But for the movie itself, its own self-contained adventure that has tendrils reaching into other branches of the cinematic universe if you’re looking for them.
Ben Mendelsohn (Talos): It pays so much better [to be a villain]. There’s a sort of an evil loading that comes with it, because of the danger. I mean, basically, that’s it. And you don’t want to confuse the people that are going for, you know, the dark side of the force, et cetera. You want to be able to keep them on a nice thematic consistency.
Rotten Tomatoes: Have you filmed any scenes with Gemma Chan?
Mendelsohn: I couldn’t give you that without giving the game away. I’ve gotten good at that, you know? The studio movies do teach you that.
Jackson: [’90s Nick Fury] is probably not as cynical just yet. Things are changing – the world is changing – for him, how he views who we are and with respect to the rest of the galaxy, and that there’s a much greater thing out there than who and what we are, and that they pose a greater threat than anyone even knows. We literally have no defenses against them. You’ll see what happened to his eye. You’ll find out that he does have family that’s referenced, [but] you don’t see. There’s a back story we haven’t talked about before, where he’s from and what he’s done. There are times when he actually humanly reacts to things with fear and awe, instead of the stone face he normally has. It’s before he learns to control his emotions in another way. We get more of what turns him into this person that you originally meet in Iron Man.
Mendelsohn: It’s been a long time in makeup [since I joined Marvel], but it’s a powerhouse, so it’s a pleasure to serve.
Boden: Yes, [laughs] there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of responsibility to make this film live up to all the potential it has, starting from an awesome character in the comics, just an amazing, powerful woman in Brie Larson, who’s embodying her, and all the incredible filmmakers that have worked with Marvel in the past.
Larson: The Marvel movies have so much meaning in them. They mean so much. You can have a great time and just enjoy it for having a great time, but you can also be left with some really deep philosophical questions. That combo is really powerful. And so the idea that we could make something that was thought-provoking and entertaining that was gonna be seen all over the world, it’s a crazy one to think about.
Captain Marvel opens everywhere on March 8, 2019.