A restless crowd found itself eagerly awaiting the commencement of an important event on Friday afternoon in the gorgeous ballroom of a luxurious Los Angeles hotel. High spirits were palpable all around, as everyone had come from seeing one of the most hotly anticipated films of the year a few days before the event: Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel. The film, a turning point for the ever-expanding success that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, represented something more than just a typical superhero FX-driven origin story — it was to become Marvel Studios’ first female-led superhero movie. And as such, the crowd was anxious for the announcement that they would soon be joined by the captain, herself, Brie Larson, as well as co-stars Jude Law, Lashana Lynch, Samuel L. Jackson, Gemma Chan, Clark Gregg, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and producer-extraordinaire Kevin Feige to discuss candidly what indeed makes her a hero.
When they all finally entered the stage, Larson was immediately asked what she loved about the character of Captain Marvel.
“There’s a lot to love about her, which is why I was really excited to do this. In particular the idea of playing a female superhero (because my interest is in female complexity), I was worried about playing a superhero that would be perfect. Because I don’t feel that that’s realistic or something aspirational at all… So getting to play a character where the whole character arc and turn of this is watching her be this major risk taker, which means it’s not going to work out the best; those are the defining moments of her character. She doesn’t lay down. She gets back up. That’s everything.”
Larson was then asked about her impressive training regiment:
“I sobbed in the gym, many times!” she joked. “It’s very emotional when you’re kind of stirring up something very vulnerable and raw inside of you. And you’re also learning that it’s just for you. There was nothing for you to prove… it was for myself. And for me the main reason for doing it was so that in moments like this, when we’re talking about Carol’s strength and we’re talking about what I learned from her, it’s that I’m stronger than I realized… I can stand here and say that I am really strong. I was able to deadlift 225 lbs. I was able to hip-thrust 400 lbs. I was able to push my trainer’s 5000-lb Jeep up a hill for 60 seconds… So this concept of what the human body’s capable of, or in particular what a female body is capable of — it’s capable of a lot!”
When Boden and Fleck were asked about the ’90s-era settings and music from the film and how that came about, they had this to say:
“We made a big playlist at the beginning of the movie. We shared it with the crew and some of the cast,” began Fleck. “In post, we put the scenes together and threw songs in to see what stuck the best. It was very much a collaboration with Kevin [Feige] and the whole team at Marvel to see what was the best.”
Boden was asked if there were any 90s artifacts she wanted to put in the film, but couldn’t.
“I was a big candy eater in the ’90s,” she began. “Do you remember [Dunkeroos]?… We don’t eat enough in the movie, so we couldn’t get those in”
One of the most fun aspects of Captain Marvel is that it forms into a buddy picture between Carol Danvers and MCU staple, Nick Fury. The relationship between the two allows for the audience to see a different side of Fury. When asked about he liked about embodying this side of the character, Jackson had this to say:
“It’s sort of a kinder, gentler, not-so-cynical/world weary/chip-on-the-shoulder Nick Fury, who hadn’t met anyone from another universe just yet… It’s kind of fun to not be the all-knowing, angry, persuader that Nick Fury always is,” Jackson states. “And even more refreshing to have two eyes so I don’t have to cover one eye when I was learning my lines”
Joining the MCU in this film is the talented Jude Law, who plays Kree warrior Yon-Rogg. Law was asked about his kid’s reactions to him joining the MCU. He responded saying:
“They cared. They cared only in the vernacular of teenage kids, so it was like ‘yeah that’s cool,’ he joked. “That’s about all I got, but I knew it was quite high on the richer scale… They saw it this weekend and there’s a screening next week in London, and the fact that they want to go again is a very good sign.”
Naturally, being the first female-led superhero movie in the MCU, the theme of sisterhood was critical for the filmmakers to explore. And the best way to do this was through the relationship between Carol and her best friend Maria Rambeau, played by Lashana Lynch.
When asked about how she campaigned for the role of Maria, Lynch had this to say:
“I am a Marvel fan,” she started. “So growing up watching them, watching the characters, enjoying the trajectory. And I just had a feeling that something would come up… I sent them tapes, and they all didn’t work out for a reason… I felt like I was drawn to something that represented something I cared about: women.”
When asked about the relationship between Carol and Maria, and what drew them together, both Larson and Lynch chimed in.
“Both are in the military. So they came from male dominated environments where they were drawn to women anyway,” stated Lynch. “The nice thing about how Brie has represented Carol is that she’s just a normal person. She’s able to be every facet of what a woman represents today: sarcastic, dry, funny… So I feel like Maria embodies that in a very human way. She’s able to just be a kind good person.”
“What they’ve gone through together, going through military training together, being the only women, and then using each other to lean on each other through that type of support and recognition of their experience is really special,” stated Larson. “Of course, I would think they would have been friends outside of that experience, but I think that’s a really tight knit bond that they have. They’re family… This is the great love of the movie… It’s her best friend and her best friend’s daughter, which to me is so natural… It’s not something we made a big deal about. But it just feels so natural because that love is so strong.”
On her Lynch’s character, Larson continued saying, “It’s like the movie shifts when she’s on screen because there’s a level of power that she commands… you couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”
In addition to the great friendship between Maria and Carol, the film also depicts the early stages of the legendary friendship between Phil Coulson, and Nick Fury, meaning the return of everyone’s favorite Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Clark Gregg. When asked about what it felt like to return to the Marvel Studios films, Gregg had this to say:
“It wasn’t a long conversation. They said ‘Hey do you want to come back? It’s the ’90s. Cool soundtrack. Ryan and Anna. Little origin buddy stuff with Sam. They’re going to give you more hair, make you look younger. Oh and Brie Larson is going to be Captain Marvel’ and I was like ‘Ok. Where do I go?’ And it superseded that in every way. It was so incredibly fun to do. I’ve had the thrill of taking my young daughter to a bunch of Marvel movies. But I’m taking a 17-year old young woman to see Captain Marvel next week and I’ve never been more excited to take her to anything ever.”
Keeping along with the spirit and theme of female-empowerment during the conference, the lovely Gemma Chan, who plays Minn-Erva in the film, was asked about what it was like to play a badass sniper ‘mean-girl.’
“I loved it! I like to change it up and surprise people a bit. It was really fun going from playing Astrid [from Crazy Rich Asians] who is this very warm-hearted, kind, empathetic person, to playing Minn-Erva who has got a harder edge, is sarcastic, and yes is a bit of a mean-girl. But I like that. I like tapping into that side of me. It’s fun to be bad!”
She was also asked if she was able to go to “sniper-school.”
“I did! I had to learn how to crawl with a rifle. I did all the drills. There was an amazing stunt team that Marvel have, and they help you look like you know what you’re doing,” she said laughing.
Captain Marvel is truly a cinematic endeavor that fans have been clamoring to see on screen since Kelly Sue Deconnick took the Carol Danvers character and bestowed the “Captain Marvel” mantle on her in 2012, making her the most powerful being in the Marvel Universe. As such, several filmmakers were looking to throw their hat in the ring before Boden and Fleck were chosen by Marvel Studios head, Kevin Feige to take the reins of the film. When asked about how that process went and how he chose them, Feige said this:
“It was a number of meetings. And it was their body of work. And it’s their focus on character. And our belief that they wouldn’t have lost the character amongst the spectacle and fun and the effects. And really, Anna spoke very eloquently about Carol Danvers and about that female hero. And during the course of the development of the movie and producing the movie, Anna went up in a jet, as did Brie, which was super impressive and I wouldn’t do for a million dollars. So it was those early meetings and their amazing body of work that made us realize they could bring Carol to life.”
And bring her to life they truly did. Carol Danvers will soon be hitting the big screen hard and taking the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her higher, further, and faster. As such, audiences everywhere will finally be able to see what truly does makes her a hero when they watch Captain Marvel in theaters on March 8.
For more details on the press conference, check out the videos below: