‘Captain Marvel’: 28 Things to Know About the Marvel Cinematic Universe Prequel

     January 8, 2019

We’ve got another Marvel movie coming up before we get to Avengers: Endgame, and it’s a big one; Captain Marvel marks the very first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie led by a female hero! Last summer I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to visit the Los Angeles-based set of the film and while there, I got to participate in roundtable interviews with the cast, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and also with executive producer Jonathan Schwartz. You can expect to read a number of those conversations in full right here on Collider, but right now it’s time to highlight some of the most important “things to know” about Captain Marvel that I learned during this visit. 

Here are the key story details courtesy of Schwartz: “The movie starts with the Captain Marvel character already in outer space, already having superpowers and already fighting on the side of the Kree in the Kree-Skrull war.” She doesn’t remember her human past and has been inducted into the Kree army. In fact, she loves being a Kree. Early in the movie, Captain Marvel and Starforce are “dispatched on a mission to an alien planet to fight the Skrulls, and over the course of that mission, Brie Larson’s character gets captured by the Skrulls.” Ultimately, Captain Marvel winds up on Earth, crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster video store, and that’s when we get a “younger, two-eyed version of Agent Fury and the two of them together kind of have to stop the Skrull plot on Earth, and at the same time, get to the root of Carol’s past.”

The Kree-Skrull War dates back centuries, so how much of it will we actually get to see in Captain Marvel? Schwartz explained, “You’ll see as much as is necessary to get Captain Marvel moving on her story. It’s a conflict that’s dealt with in a very real way, hopefully without overloading the audience with exposition which we never want to do. But I think the thrust of the movie is to get our characters into the action as quickly as we can and get that story moving.”

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Image via Marvel Studios

Expect half of the movie to take place in space and half of it to take place on Earth. Here’s how Schwartz put it: “It’s more or less 50/50. The movie starts in space, gets to Earth relatively quickly and then goes back to space for kind of some of the third act. So it’s kind of space-Earth-space. There is a big Earth plot that ends up tying into a lot of our more cosmic goings on.”

The story in the movie is told in a linear format … or is it? Schwartz’s tease of the story structure probably won’t clarify much. Here’s what he said when asked if Captain Marvel is told linearly: “It is and it isn’t. I don’t want to get into that too much because there’s a few cool surprises along the way. But yes and no. Sorry.”

Captain Marvel is a “90s action movie.” Schwartz admitted, “It feels weird calling it a genre, but the genre is 90s action movie. Like, if you think about movies like RoboCop or Total Recall or Terminator 2 or Independence Day, I think there are common action movie threads that you can tease through those movies, which are what we’re trying to pick up on in this movie.”

The directors had some unexpected influences. Boden and Fleck did mention both RoboCop and Terminator 2 as well, but then they also brought up The French Connection. Fleck further explained, “Yes, not an action film but you have to look for it. There are little moments, homages to shots from our favorite movies.” 

How exactly did they decide to set the movie in the 90s? “Very early in the development process I think we kind of seized on the idea of setting it in the 90s as a way to kind of 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 continued, “It’s more or less this adventure that’s going to inspire a lot of what we see in the MCU and kind of being able to see those things in this movie that blossom in other movies and already have blossomed in other movies, is one of the big excitements.”

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Image via Disney

The humor in Captain Marvel is similar to the humor we saw in Doctor Strange. Schwartz told us, “It’s kind of somewhere in between. You know, Carol in the comics is a really funny character in her own way. In a way that doesn’t feel like Doctor Strange, in a way that doesn’t feel like Iron Man, like Robert Downey Jr., that gets to be her unique voice, and I think that’s the voice we try to get across. Which isn’t joke a minute, Rocket Raccoon Guardians of the Galaxy, which is super funny, and isn’t super grounded, kinda heavy as some of our other movies have been. I think it inhabits a place a lot like Doctor Strange that takes the movie and the stakes of the movie pretty seriously, but allows the characters to have fun within it.”

All of Captain Marvel’s powers will be on display in this movie. “By the end of this movie we’ll have seen the full run of powers out of Carol.” Schwartz highlighted flight, strength and photon blasts, and also noted, “You know, I think part of what made us excited about the character was that she was such a powerful character in the comic books and one of the most, if not the most powerful character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and seeing all that brought to bear is one of the big pleasures of the movie.”

This is Carol’s movie but at times, it’s a Carol-Nick Fury two-hander. Schwartz explained, “There’s a Nick Fury origin story in there. The movie is definitely called Captain Marvel. It becomes a two-hander for parts of it. So, we sort of wanted to give the audience that kind of young Nick Fury origin story as you put it, and it’s all there. But hopefully in a way that complements Carol’s adventure too.” A key part of that origin story for Fury is the fact that, at this time, he was feeling obsolete. Schwartz noted, “We’re meeting Nick Fury at a very interesting time in his life. It’s kind of the mid 90s, the Cold War is over, the war on terror hasn’t begun yet. It’s a little bit of a slow period for worldwide espionage, and I think Fury is kind of wondering what his place in the world is, in a world where he feels maybe a little obsolete. And then aliens come down from outer space!”

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Image via Marvel Studios

Fury will have to figure out whether or not to trust Carol. Samuel L. Jackson told us, “… she looks like us, yes, but she also showed up with these things that can shape-shift. So, is she what she appears to be? Is she a safe individual? Is she a dangerous individual? All those things come to mind. Spending time with her, he discovers things about her that, you know, lead him to believe that she is something other than what she has presented herself to be or even knows herself to be. So, during the course of interacting with her, they do become compatriots.” He also added, “They have a shared sense of humor. He’s open to the difference in what she may be and what she may not be, and he’s definitely willing to help her explore what she needs to find out to find out who she is and, what and how she came to be.”

Why didn’t Nick Fury use the pager seen in Infinity War sooner? Will they explain why he didn’t use it during potentially cataclysmic attacks before Thanos’ snap? Here’s what Schwartz had to say about that burning question: “I think it’s a combination of things. I think we will understand over the course of these movies why Fury makes the decisions that he does. He’s always a mysterious guy and he always has his own reasons, but hopefully we can clarify some of that for the audience.”

Here’s what to expect from Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson: Schwartz explained, “We get to see Coulson in his first meeting with Nick Fury at a much younger age where the Kree aren’t even part of his vocabulary yet.”

The movie will include the Supreme Intelligence. Here’s what Jude Law told us when asked about what drives his character: “He has a very particular relationship – and any of you who know a lot about the Krees, there’s a sort of a divine element called the Supreme Intelligence, and that comes to play in this. And each of the Starforce, indeed each of the Kree warriors, has a particular relationship with the Supreme Intelligence, and my character has a very particular relationship with Supreme Intelligence which becomes revealed and is quite complex and ultimately very revealing of what it is that motivates.” Law also added, “I’ve kind of based him almost on a sort of, not religious fanatic, but he’s got a kind of divine sense of purpose because of his relationship with this greater being.”

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Image via Marvel Studios

Ben Mendelsohn plays the Skrull leader, Talos. “Ben kind of plays the face of the Skrulls, the leader of the Skrulls and that’s Talos. Over the course of the movie he’ll shape-shift a little bit, so we’ll get to see him in human form …” Schwartz also added, “I think it’s sort of fun to show off both the Skrull’s powers and Ben’s range as an actor because he’s very different in all of those parts. It’s been super fun to watch.”

“We be Skrullin’.” – Ben Mendelsohn

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