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It took over 10 years, but Marvel Studios finally has its first female-led solo movie in theaters now, and its success has been unquestionably outstanding. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel is among the franchise’s most successful character launches, and very soon it will join the billion dollar club at the box office. There is very clearly a demand for female-led storytelling in this arena, and it’s a drumbeat that’s growing louder and louder every day.
One person not afraid to make a lot of noise in this arena is Tessa Thompson, who made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in 2017 playing Valkyrie in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. She made headlines last year when she revealed details of a meeting she took with some of her female colleagues and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, and has announced ambitions to see some form of women-led team-up film. It’s a feeling that’s only been amplified with the release of Captain Marvel, as I learned speaking with the actress this past weekend:
Brie [Larson] is a friend, and I just like hanging out with her; and I'm so excited. Obviously it's been a long time coming for Marvel to have a movie led by one of their female characters that exists in the canon… Last year in the press there was this whole idea that I was on Kevin Feige about doing an all-female, A-Force or something. But really it just has to do with the fact that there's so many incredible, talented women in the MCU that I just want to work with selfishly. So I'm like, 'Well, why not do it in the context of like fighting folks and hanging out in space?’
I had the wonderful pleasure of sitting down with Tessa Thompson and writer/director Nia DaCosta on Sunday, and while the majority of our conversation was about their new collaboration – the upcoming thriller Little Woods – my last question to the actress was about her popular role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My way into the conversation was inspired by Thompson’s recent social media activity, specifically back-and forths between herself and Captain Marvel star Brie Larson.
The two actresses have been regularly sharing fan art depicting Valkyrie and Captain Marvel together, and it inspired me to ask about her hopes for a future movie featuring the two characters teaming up. The question inspired a laugh, and Thompson took the idea to a bigger place, explaining her real desire for collaborations with the immensely talented actresses that populate the popular franchise.
As she continued, however, she also expressed why she feels a certain special level of parity with Brie Larson. While actresses like Scarlet Johansson, Zoe Saldana, and Gwyneth Paltrow each have been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for more than five years, the experience is still relatively new for both Larson and Tessa Thompson, and they apparently are both still reveling in all of it.
This is particularly motivated, as you might expect, simply from the impact that they both feel that they can make with such significant parts on such a significant stage. They know that there is a generation of young women who are going to have a completely different perspective on the world than what previous generations got from pop culture, and they are a part of that.
And of course, there is the geek-out factor as well, as Tessa Thompson explained, referencing the fan art,
Of course I would love the chance to work with Brie. We were just like, 'Look! It's us together!' I think we're both new to the MCU, so we both retain the sense of like, 'Can you believe!?' We're just like, 'What? We got capes? What's happening?!' We're both really geeked out by having dolls and occupying this space. We're like women's women, so the idea of getting to do something that little girls are excited about, and people that identify as women feel excited about is cool. So who knows if we'll get to do something together; it's rad. But I'm just so happy for her, and for us and what it means culturally right now.
There are definitely a lot of expectations generated from the success we’ve seen, but the level of potential is also off the charts. Along with Valkyrie and Captain Marvel, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now filled with some fantastic, unique heroines that all bring something special to the table, including Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp, Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia, Danai Gurira’s Okoye, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, Pom Klementieff’s Mantis, and more. There are exciting, fun, and dramatic stories to be told with all of these characters – solo, paired, or as group – and it will be tremendously exciting to see if and how they come together in Phase Four and beyond. Maybe at least a few of them can come together to create a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy once James Gunn is done with his trilogy?
As Marvel fans know, exactly what the future holds for the massive franchise is being kept as a closely guarded mystery for now, and we won’t have any specific answers as to what’s going on until after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this summer – whether that includes an all-female team movie or not. Of course, between now and then we will also see the release of Avengers: Endgame, and it’s very possible that we could see a few kick-ass female team-ups within the runtime of that adventure. Hell, for all we know it might already give us the first Valkyrie/Captain Marvel partnership, and Tessa Thompson is just trying to maintain the surprise. We’re keeping our fingers very tightly crossed.
We’ll continue to keep you up to date with all of the latest developments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as always), but those of you also excited for more Tessa Thompson on the big screen will be getting a fantastic dose in just a few weeks. The aforementioned Little Woods, co-starring Lily Collins and James Badge Dale, will be in theaters in limited release on April 19th.