Captain Marvel Is Subverting The Typical Superhero Origin Story
Thanks to the growth of the superhero genre, the structure of the typical origin story has become overly familiar. The first hour or so is spent establishing the protagonist pre-powers, and then something happens that changes their life forever. As they adjust to their new abilities, they face off with a dangerous foe that bests them at first -- but then the third act rolls around and the costumed vigilante finds the confidence to become the champion they've always been destined to become.
This, however, is not the tactic being taken in Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's Captain Marvel -- which will instead begin with the eponymous heroine in a costume and demonstrating superhuman abilities. It's an exciting approach for a character that has never been adapted into live-action before, though it does come with its own special issues. It was an aspect of the film that was discussed at length early last year during a press day on the set of the movie when it was shooting in Los Angeles, the subject first coming up during an interview with Marvel Studios producer Jonathan Schwartz:
Rather than beginning with Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) on Earth and operating as an ace fighter pilot, Captain Marvel will instead see the bulk of its first act take place out in the cosmos and in the midst of an intergalactic conflict known as the Kree-Skrull War. Carol is an elite warrior fighting for the Kree, operating as part of a group known as Starforce, but the catch is that she doesn't remember anything about her life as a human, and believes that she is entirely Kree.
As a result, Carol finds herself mighty confused when she crashes down to Earth after escaping Skrull captivity and begins to register some familiarity with the world. Paired with a young and ambitious Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who is trying to make a name for himself at S.H.I.E.L.D., she sets off on a journey to find out the truth about her past -- which ties back to Jonathan Schwartz's comments about understanding the character. The key with Captain Marvel is that the audience and hero are learning the full story at the same time.
The producer wouldn't fully comment on Captain Marvel operating as a linear story -- offering instead a wishy-washy "it is and it isn't" and the promise of "a few cool surprises" -- but was stressed in the conversation was Carol Danvers' relationship with her own history in the movie. At the start she will have a very clear idea of who she is and what she stands for, but what the narrative ultimately sets out to do is show her that what she thinks she knows is basically all surface level. Said Schwartz,
This kind of journey of self-discovery is really a staple of the superhero origin story, but the way that Captain Marvel is going about it certainly stands out from what we've previously seen from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Through their stories, Tony Stark, Stephen Strange, Thor, Steve Rogers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy all found themselves expanding their worlds to access new sides of their personalities, but the story of Carol Danvers will basically be the reverse of that, being much more internally retrospective in its character work and rediscovering more than discovering.
What further adds to the palette is the fact that Carol Danvers learning about her human past doesn't just eliminate the life she has lived as a member of the Kree. It's just the opposite, as it sticks around as an important part of who she is as an individual. The halves of her have to harmonize and she has to make peace with being someone who comes from two different worlds. This was an element of Captain Marvel that co-director Anna Boden went into on set, explaining,
And when you consider that Captain Marvel has been touted as one of the most powerful beings in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, you realize that coalescence is pretty damn significant. It starts with strength, flight, and photon blasts, but things very much escalate from there, and we'll just have to wait and see just what this incarnation of the beloved character can do when she is operating at full capacity.
This is a big screen journey that Marvel fans have been anticipating for years now, and the wait is almost over. Captain Marvel, which stars Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law in addition to Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, is just a few months from release, set to arrive in a theater near you on March 8th. Given that it's unquestionably one of the 2019 features we're most excited for, you can be sure that there will be plenty more coverage coming your way here on CinemaBlend -- including more from my set visit and peek behind the scenes!
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
By Riley Utley
By Adam Holmes
By Dirk Libbey