Though her logo appears in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, Captain Marvel, out March 8, will be audiences' first look at Carol Danvers (Brie Larson). The movie doesn't feature your standard human-develops-powers story though; Carol is already going to be the superhero the Avengers need to fix the Thanos snap in Avengers: Endgame. She isn't called "Marvel's mightiest Avenger" for nothing! But there's still an origin story element to Captain Marvel, just with one super cool twist.
During Bustle's visit to the set last summer, executive producer Jonathan Schwartz reveals that "the fun of the movie is seeing how Earth fits into the Kree-Skrull war mythology," and how the monumental comic book arc from the '70s about two alien races at war will change both Earth and the future Avengers creator Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) going forward.
"At the beginning of the movie, we find Brie Larson playing the character of Captain Marvel on planet Hala fighting on behalf of the Kree on the Kree side of the Kree-Skrull war," Schwartz says. "She doesn’t have any memory of her life as a human. The movie is about her ending up over the course of this adventure back on Earth and realizing that she has these human origins that are tied to much bigger aspects of that war. So in many ways, it’s a classic Marvel origin story but told in reverse structurally."
In the comics, Carol Danvers is an Air Force pilot who, after her DNA is accidentally fused with that of Kree superhero Mar-Vell's (Jude Law), gains superpowers and becomes the most powerful Avenger. And while the '90s-set movie will show the whole story of how the human Carol Danvers becomes the most powerful superhero of the whole MCU, fans won't have to wait until the big climax of the movie to see her in all her glory, as they meet Captain Marvel before they meet Carol Danvers. "Yeah, you meet her as an awesome, badass, super-powered space hero and then learn who the human is behind that aspect of herself," Schwartz adds.
Captain Marvel co-director Anna Boden – the woman to helm a Marvel film – didn't want to make the film just another origin story, and so telling Carol's story backwards allowed the creative team to dive deeper into who the character is.
"This is an amazing opportunity to introduce audiences to a new superhero and take her on a very powerful journey of self-discovery throughout the movie," Boden says. "And we really grounded ourselves in that journey, that character journey, and the journey of somebody who’s discovering her own power and realizing the more herself she becomes, the more powerful she becomes."
As Captain Marvel begins to remember her past as Carol Danvers, her origin story will take shape. "There are flashbacks interspersed throughout the movie and little pops to earlier moments in Carol’s life," Schwartz says. "But for the most part, the movie takes place along the linear timeline in 1995."
In the comics, Mar-Vell is Carol's mentor and the reason she becomes Captain Marvel. But fan theories have already started to swirl that Law's onscreen adaptation isn't actually Mar-Vell, the leader of the Kree Starforce in which Captain Marvel is seen fighting alongside in trailers – a Screen Rant article contends that he's actually playing Yon-Rogg, a Kree commander turned villain.
"The character of Mar-Vell in the comic books is really important to Carol’s origin story and Mar-Vell is equally important to Carol’s origin story in this movie and I think anything beyond that is going to be a little too spoilery," Schwartz teases. "That origin story had to be updated a little bit for a modern audience and I’m really curious to see what fans of the character think about what we’ve done with that moment."
In trailers, Mar-Vell is seen training Captain Marvel and urging her to let go of her past, the one she can't remember. But as she begins to rediscover her memories and her life on Earth, she finds her voice and strength within herself and starts trusting her own judgment.
"We just found what we thought was strong and powerful about this character and stayed to that story," Boden says. "We’re not trying to make this movie about all women, we can’t make it about all women’s journeys, but [we] just [stayed] really true to this woman’s journey. She is the most powerful character we have seen in a Marvel movie and it’s really exciting to see that journey of her finding that."
Schwartz adds that the creative team was "excited to have the opportunity to deliver feminist themes" in Captain Marvel. "I think the movie delivers in that way," he says. And having Larson, who frequently speaks out about equality, in the titular role "has added a lot in terms of who the character is and how that character comes across on screen because she is that person," Schwartz adds. "She saw what we were trying to do thematically and was really on board with it. Thematically the movie very much is about embracing your own humanity and to some extent embracing your own emotion."
He then, maybe, kind of, slightly, hints that Law's character may not be what he seems. "There are a lot of mentors in Carol’s life over the course of this movie, some of them have good intentions toward her and some of them less so, and learning who to listen to and when to listen to yourself is one of the most important themes of the movie," Schwartz says. "Ultimately, Carol’s power comes from her own self-knowledge and her own self-acceptance and her journey to that moment is what makes the movie."
Even though Marvel fans will get that story in an order they're not used to, the people behind Captain Marvel are hoping — and expecting — they'll still connect to Carol's humanity.