Just a few months after she took home an Academy Award for her leading role in 2016's "Room," Brie Larson officially joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, revealing her casting as Carol Danvers before a cheering Comic-Con crowd.
"There’s a lot to love about [Carol]," says the star, "which is why I was really excited to do this. Particularly in playing a female superhero, I was worried about playing a superhero that is perfect, because it’s not realistic or aspirational at all. Even in my job, you see this finished product where I look great, but you haven’t seen what landed on the cutting room floor. Either I’ve landed on my face or I haven’t done a good take. The entire arc of the character is that she’s a major risk taker and maybe it doesn’t always work out for the best. That’s the defining moment of her character. When she gets knocked down and gets back up."
Larson underwent a full nine months of intense physical training to prepare for the role. The process was less about achieving a perfect workout body, however, and more about finding the heart of Carol Danvers.
"You think training for that many hours for nine months, I was like, 'I’m amazing!'?" she explains. "No. I sobbed in the gym many times. It’s very emotional when you’re stirring up something raw and when it's just for you. I wasn’t trying to prove it to anybody in the gym or to my trainer. It was for myself. The main reason for me doing it is so that when we’re talking about Carol’s strength, I could feel stronger than I thought I was."
Part of the secret to Larson's training is that she viewed it as very much a journey rather than a destination.
"[U]sually, I prep for a really long time to put myself in the feeling or experience," she says. "It’s usually delayed to me. My mom would say, 'You’re turning into someone else.' It’s not like I have this moment where I go, 'She’s arrived!' I don’t have that. Partially because I don’t want to ever feel like I have it. It’s a little elusive to me. If you feel like you’ve arrived, then it’s game over. I always want to feel like I’m losing it a little bit."
"Captain Marvel" also gives Larson the chance to reteam with her friend and "Kong: Skull Island" costar Samuel L. Jackson.
"I walked away thinking my friend the movie star was crossing over to a new space," says the Nick Fury actor. "That was awesome. Her anonymity is gone."
Unfortunately, some comic book fans took particular umbrage at Larson's thoughts on gender equality, some going so far as to try and tank the "Captain Marvel" rating on Rotten Tomatoes a full two weeks before the film even opens. Fortunately, the review aggregator has already nipped that particular infantile outburst in the bud. In fact, the rampant misogyny that can be found online is precisely why Larson wants the conversation to be out there.
"Captain Marvel" star Brie Larson goes into detail about playing Carol Danvers and what her arrival means for the future of the MCU. There's also input from co-star Samuel L. Jackson and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
"I’m not doing something for a specific reaction," she says. "I’m just doing what I can do with my one body. But with films like this that do end up going international, it means that you get to have an extensive conversation about movies like this. If you want to just enjoy it, you can, but there are a lot of aspects of this movie that are worth talking to your friends and family about. When you have a multicultural, international conversation like that, you’re able to reveal some deeper truths."
- Silas Lesnick
From their Academy Award nominated debut feature “Half Nelson” in 2006 to a comedy infused drama about mental illness with 2010’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have proven their skill at bringing multi-faceted characters to life on the big screen. Now, with “Captain Marvel,” the creative pair join an increasingly diverse slate of filmmakers that are bringing new voices to the rapidly expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“It was really more than one meeting,” Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recalls. “It was their body of work. It was their focus on character and their belief that they won’t lose the character in the spectacle and suspense. Over the course of the movie, Anna went up in a jet. So it was those early meetings and their amazing body of work that made us realize they could bring Carol to life.”
“In the early conversations with Kevin and Brie [Larson], that’s what we talked about wanting to bring to this story,” Fleck explains. “A continuation in character-focused storytelling.”
It definitely doesn’t hurt to have a secret weapon in star Ben Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn starred opposite Ryan Reynolds in Boden and Fleck’s 2015 “Mississippi Grind,” a drama about two down on their luck gamblers trying to turn their luck around. In “Captain Marvel,” Mendelsohn plays Talos, the leader of a shapeshifting alien race called Skrulls that are locked in an eternal conflict with the advanced Kree species. Naturally, there’s somewhat a learning curve going from indie drama to a big budget sci-fi blockbuster.
“Visual effects were challenging,” says Fleck, “but we’re working with the best in the business. We were in good hands. We worked very collaboratively. They were very patient with us. It was wonderful. I can’t think of a better studio to take that leap with. They’re the best collaborators and allowed us to tell the story we tell.
“In terms of the visual effects, it’s all about having Victoria Alonso,” adds Feige, “Who knows this stuff inside and out. Ultimately, it’s about story and that’s how you end up with a movie like this.”
Go behind the scenes of Marvel Studios' latest, "Captain Marvel" with on-set interviews from writer and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, and stars Jude Law, Gemma Chan and Ben Mendelsohn
Alonso, part of Marvel Studios from the very beginning, has long championed a Carol Danvers film. Boden may be Marvel’s first female director, but she’s not alone. Cate Shortland, best known for the 2012 drama “Lore,” is already attached to direct a Scarlett Johnasson led “Black Widow” film.
“I realized over the course of making this movie that, as a person, I’m sometimes more comfortable hiding and not being seen,” says Boden. “I remember this story of when Ryan and I made our first short film and we won an award and I literally hid behind him. I think this process has helped me be more confident in my voice and be more comfortable just being seen.”
“I’ve always sort of known this,” Fleck adds, “but I really realized how kick-ass my directing partner is.”
- Silas Lesnick