Avengers assemble: Brie Larson speaks about Captain Marvel, the most powerful superhero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Brie, who plays the titular character in the film, speaks with Indulge about preparing for the role, why co-star Samuel L Jackson is like family to her, and what audiences can expect from the film.
A little over a year ago, hardcore Marvel fans had much reason to rejoice, when at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Nick Fury called on Captain Marvel for help. For, if there is one person who can save the world, it can only be the ‘universe’s most powerful hero’. For the uninitiated, the origin story of Captain Marvel is slated to release today. Set in the 1990s, the film is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — one that follows the journey of Carol Danvers, as she becomes one of the most powerful heroes in the universe.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film stars Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Mckenna Grace, with Annette Bening with Clark Gregg, and Jude Law.
Bet on Brie
Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson, popular for her films like Room, Kong: Skull Island and The Glass Castle, is MCU’s first stand-alone, female-franchise, title character. “You feel the sense of gravitas that comes with being on a set like this, because there’s an understanding that if this was just about spectacle and CGI, you don’t need to hire me. You could hire anybody to do that,” begins the 29-year-old actress.S he adds, “You’re hiring us because of who we are as artistes, because of our minds, because of what it is that plagues us, and keeps us up at night, and what drives us. That’s all the stuff that ultimately goes back into these films. Sure, the car chases and the explosions are super fun, but really, what sits with you, and makes you think, and makes you rewatch it, are those interpersonal relationships and the conflicts between these characters.”
Carol vs Captain
The film is set in the 1990s, and follows the journey of how Carol Danvers, a former US Air Force fighter pilot, turns into one of the galaxy’s mightiest heroes by joining Starforce, an elite Kree military team, before returning home with questions about her past and identity, just when Earth is caught in the centre of a galactic conflict between two alien worlds.
Talking about her character, Larson explains, “The thing about Carol is that she’s two halves — she’s Kree and she’s human. And the Kree are really incredible warriors, hyper-intellectuals, and the best at what they do. Then there’s this other part of her that’s human and that is the loving part of her, but it’s also the part that makes her kind of sassy and a little brash at times. It makes her really emotional. It makes her aggressive and competitive. It’s all of the good and all of the bad in that human side. It’s the flaw, and it’s the best thing about her.”
Larson says that translating that conflict of good and bad onscreen was incredibly challenging, but
rewarding as well. “With something like this, you have to think about what the potential future holds, as if I was doing a long run of a play performance. It has to be something that — as you grow in your life, and as your life continues to evolve — something that will continue to inspire and intrigue you. That’s why any good piece of art, any book, movie or painting that I’ve ever seen, I grow with. Each time you re-read a book, you see it from a different perspective. So, the idea of going back to the basics of logic versus emotion will be a struggle within me for the rest of my life. I can continue to explore that forever,” she offers.
Back to the ’90s
“It is interesting that we are going back to the 1990s, especially now, when we’re at this climax with Infinity War, where everything is at this major crisis,” offers the actress. She adds, “But now, we’re going back to the very beginning, and going back in time to where all of this began, and seeing the origin of all of this.”
Playing the character, for Brie, has been nothing short of “magical”. She elaborates, “It seems like all of this was leading up to something in the same way that I feel like my entire lifetime of experience of being a woman, along with all these other bizarre aspects of me, are all coming together to play this character right now. And it couldn’t have happened at any other time other than now.”
Up in the air
Larson and Lashana Lynch, who plays fellow test pilot Maria Rambeau, visited Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, for a once-in-a-lifetime training and experiences in an F-16 fighter jet. Talking about the training, the actor quips, “Oh, I puked a lot. That’s part of how I got my call sign. All of the pilots were like, you’re not supposed to tell anybody that, and I was like, I got no shame. But we were simulating a dog fight, so I was like, flipping around every which way. My pilot was so incredible and super-talented.”
She elaborates that she was able to put all of that experience to good use, once she was back on the set. “When we were simulating a barrel roll, I was able to recall exactly what that feels like, what your body feels like, how hard it is to breathe. It’s all of those little nuances that I hope will come through in the movie, so that regardless of who you are, if you’re the Air Force or you’re a pilot or whatever, you recognise that it feels real,” she hopes.
Fun fact. During the course of filming, the actress was also able to meet and spend time with Brigadier General Jeannie Marie Leavitt. “She was the United States Air Force’s first female fighter pilot in 1993, and was the first woman to command a USAF combat fighter wing. That was amazing,” she adds.
All for Fury
One of the highlights of the film, which has also been highlighted in the trailer, is the relationship that Nick Fury (played by Samuel L Jackson) shares with Captain Marvel. “Carol and Nick Fury do not start off on the same page at all. They’re both at war, and don’t understand each other very much. But it ’s actually that conflict that brings out their sense of humour, which is sort of the beginning of realising that they have things in common. Then they team up together and are able to utilise both of their skill sets together. They complement each other very well,” says Larson.
We cannot help but wonder what working with a prolific actor like Jackson was, considering the fact that the two have worked together before in films like Kong: Skull Island, Unicorn Store and Farce of the Penguins. Larson gushes, “Sam’s my family. We are the dynamic duo that the world didn’t know that they needed. This is our third film together, and we just love each other, and have the best time together. I can talk to him about anything. He’s just a master class actor. He’s the greatest that there is. I was so thrilled when I found out that he was going to be on this film with me.”
A new perspective
At the end of the day, Larson hopes that the film will give audiences a new perspective. “Once you know what Captain Marvel starts and what it inspires within the film, it changes the entire perspective of the rest of the catalogue, in a very profound way. It’s powerful stuff. Part of what made me feel the stir to do this was when Kevin (Feige, the producer) told me that his daughter hadn’t seen any of the Marvel movies, and that this would be the first one that she sees.
That put things in perspective for me, to understand the potential of what this was, and the timing of it. I think that it’s going to be a super-fun ride, even if you’re not familiar with these films. But if you’ve watched all of these, if you’re committed to this journey, I think you’ll enjoy all of the little pieces that are the seeds of what’s to come.”
Captain Marvel releases today.