- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “ Avengers: Endgame.”
- INSIDER interviewed “Captain Marvel” producer Mary Livanos and comic-book writer and “Captain Marvel” consultant Kelly Sue DeConnick ahead of the film’s release on digital (May 28) and Blu-ray (June 11) at the espnW Summit in New York City.
- Livanos and DeConnick discussed what bringing the superhero to screen meant, why Carol Danvers wasn’t called by her superhero name in “Captain Marvel,” and the shorter hair Danvers unexpectedly rocked in “Avengers: Endgame.”
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Captain Marvel made her appearance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in March, crushing box-office expectations with a billion-dollar movie. She appeared again in April’s $2-billion-hit “Endgame.”
Ahead of the release of “Captain Marvel” on digital (May 28) and Blu-ray (June 11), INSIDER sat down with “Captain Marvel” producer and Marvel Studios director of production and development, Mary Livanos, and comic-book writer and “Captain Marvel” consultant Kelly Sue DeConnick during the espnW Summit in New York City.
INSIDER asked Livanos and DeConnick about the long road to get Carol Danvers on the big screen, why Danvers wasn’t called her superhero name on screen until a “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer, and how Danvers’ short hair in “Endgame” came about. The latter is a “sore spot” for DeConnick who received a lot of flak from readers when Danvers was given short hair on the cover her comic run.
We also asked whether or not one of Disney’s eight untitled Marvel movies may be a sequel to “Captain Marvel,” but it’s clear those working on the Marvel Cinematic Universe are very tight-lipped and very careful on selecting the right words to navigate some tough questions.
On seeing ‘Captain Marvel’ overperform at the box office and gross over $1 billion worldwide.
Kirsten Acuna: What was your reaction to seeing Captain Marvel on the big screen? I don’t think anyone expected it to be this billion-dollar movie, but clearly people want female superheroes.
Kelly Sue DeConnick: I remember seeing online, [people thought] now it’s going to open at $110 [million]. They think it might open at $120 [million]. Oh, it’s not going to do $120 [million]. Keep expectations low, expectations low. What’s it going to end up doing? $150 million?
Acuna: I know it was well over $100 million. [Editor’s note: “Captain Marvel” opened to $153 million.]
DeConnick: It was tremendous. It is affirmation of the power of the MCU. It is affirmation of the power of what [Marvel Studios’ president] Kevin Feige has been able to do, but it is also affirmation that yes, a woman can carry a franchise film. A woman can carry an action feature and people are not put off by that. It was great. There’s a hungry audience for it.
Acuna: I don’t know if you guys saw the reactions of little girls who were standing up in the theaters during certain scenes like when Brie Larson was finally able to show her full power on screen as Captain Marvel. I remember being at one of the weekend screenings and just seeing a little girl standing up. That was a powerful moment as someone who grew up with a lot of DC male characters.
DeConnick: I have a nine-year-old daughter, so yeah I have lost my mind through this entire process. I’ve only done one public convention where I did an open signing since the movie came out but the number of young girls in my line was exponentially higher. That’s incredible. That’s absolutely incredible.
‘Captain Marvel’ producer Mary Livanos has been working on bringing the character to theaters since she joined Marvel Studios in 2015.
Acuna: Mary, I understand you worked closely with Kevin Feige on bringing this character to screen. Kelly, did you have some input as well?
DeConnick: Yes, I was a consultant on the film. Closely with Kevin Feige feels a little like a stretch, but, yeah, I have his email. We email occasionally. It’s cool.
Mary Livanos: We brought Kelly Sue in as we were breaking character and breaking story to pick her brain and to make sure that all the best parts of Carol we were distilling from the comics and making sure that that translated to the screen. But it’s great. It speaks to how much Marvel cares about their storytelling and that all trickles down from Kevin.
Acuna: What year did you start talking and working with Kevin Feige on [“Captain Marvel”] and were there ever any other superheroines you guys were thinking of or was it always Captain Marvel?Livanos: When I first started at Marvel, a little over four years ago, it’s actually pretty soon after that that we started to talk about Captain Marvel. Also with Jonathan Schwartz, the executive producer, who I worked for. Very soon after I started was when we began to talk about how to bring Carol to the screen and that’s par for the course for Marvel films. It doesn’t start with pre-production. It’s a year, if not years before that that we all put our heads together and start to figure out how to bring it to screen to make sure that Carol’s integration into the Marvel Cinematic Universe felt organic and enhanced the raw narrative.
Acuna: Do you know what the timing was when you started working with Kevin Feige?Livanos: 2015. But conversations had started surrounding “Captain Marvel” before I started full-time.
How the ‘Endgame’ team worked in conjunction with the ‘Captain Marvel’ team as both were in production
Acuna: I was sitting in on a conversation with [“Avengers: Endgame” screenwriters] Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus at the 92Y and they said Brie Larson filmed her scenes for “Endgame” before she did everything for “Captain Marvel.” Were you also closely working with them when they were figuring out Carol Danvers because they said they had to figure out who Carol’s going to be in 2023 before they even necessarily knew who she was in the 1990s. What was that like — figuring that out?Livanos: Right. They were shooting “Infinity War” and “Endgame” back-to-back while we were still writing the script for “Captain Marvel,” but luckily we felt like we had a great grasp on what the character was and what we were actively translating onto the page. Luckily, Marvel is very small and we all talk a lot. We just made sure to keep in close contact with Trinh Tran, executive [producer] on “Endgame,” to make sure that any and all questions that they had pertaining to Carol we could answer for them.Acuna: I noticed that there were a lot of female writers who were involved in this film. How important was it to have them in the writers’ room to make sure that you were navigating the character in the way that you wanted her to be presented on screen?
Livanos: In the earliest days it was Jonathan Schwartz, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and myself breaking story. Marvel is the place where everyone is welcome to have their voices heard. We didn’t have to jump through hoops to make sure that we were telling the female perspective correctly.
Why we don’t hear Carol Danvers called by her superhero name in ‘Captain Marvel’
Acuna: Something that I was asking myself after walking out of this film was I noticed that we never hear Carol Danvers referred to as Captain Marvel in the film. And we don’t hear her referred to as Captain Marvel in “Endgame” either. Actually, the first time we hear her referred to as Captain Marvel is in a new “Spiderman: Far From Home” trailer. So I was wondering if there is a reason why we don’t hear her referred to as Captain Marvel in “Captain Marvel”?
Livanos: What’s interesting… The mantel Marvel, to us, means standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. It means self realization. I think our focus was more on the mantel than the passing down of the title and Carol’s embodiment of the mission of Captain Marvel.
DeConnick: I think it’s such a weird thing to navigate even in comics where it’s very normal. They’re code names. So at some point, you pick your code name, or whatever, or your code name is passed down to you, but it’s kind of like… Carol is Carol, Avenger, Danvers. It’s along the lines of that. I think it’s secondary.
Acuna: I guess what I was wondering is if there was ever a moment in the film where she was referred to as Captain Marvel? I could easily understand why she’s not referred to as Captain Marvel in the film. Livanos: The story of the film is, Carol doesn’t even know that she’s Carol. Carol starts out thinking that she’s a member of the Kree Starforce, named Vers. It’s a journey of self-discovery and really, in a way, her name doesn’t define her. Names given to her don’t define her. It’s the embodiment of her mission that does. Acuna: I thought it was kind of apt for Peter to be the one to call her Captain Marvel since he’s very into the [superhero] nicknames. Have you both seen the trailer for “Far From Home” that debuted on Monday? DeConnick: I have not. My husband told me about it.
Livanos and DeConnick say they weren’t involved in discussions about Danvers’ short haircut in ‘Endgame.’ It brings DeConnick back to a moment where she was receiving backlash over the character’s short hair in the comics.
Acuna: I wanted to ask you guys about Danvers’ haircut that we see in “Endgame.”
DeConnick: Cool. [laughter]
Acuna: How do you —
Livanos: Kelly Sue and I were not involved in the decision making surrounding that hair cut.
DeConnick: This comes up remarkably often, is the laughing you’re hearing. It is a sore spot for me, personally, because I have no issue with short hair. I have short hair. But I got a lot of crap that I had cut Carol’s hair [in the comics] because she had short hair on the cover of my [comic] book. If you open the book, she has very long hair. It was Ed McGuinness, it was the cover artist who, it was not me. It had nothing to do with me. It was a thing some fans were very upset about. It was just this sort of double bummer for me that I was getting in trouble for a thing I didn’t do and also apparently no one actually opened the book, which sort of hurt my feelings. But hey, a billion dollars. I win.
Acuna: Two billion [with “Endgame”].
Livanos: She rocks it.
Livanos: Brie [Larson] certainly pulls it off. That is the great news.
DeConnick: Yes, yes. That gentleman before you called it her “real hair.” I told him pistols at dawn.
Acuna: Just to clarify, you’re talking about the comic specifically. In the movie, it was something that I saw in Endgame, and I was like “Oh, OK. Cool.” We’re doing that.DeConnick: In the comics, her hair was cut after I left the book and when I was on the book, our covers for some reason had short hair because our cover artist cut her hair. Inside the book, I felt strongly — there were two things I wanted. I wanted her to have long hair because she is a flying character in a still medium. I needed to be able to show that sense of movement in the air. Also, I liked the reference to the old Kree helmets and I wanted her to have this long, flowing mohawk that came out of the helmet and I liked it as an intimidation thing.
Acuna: So are you OK with seeing the shorter hair [in “Endgame”]?
DeConnick: I’m fine, I have no problem with the short hair. I like short hair. It feels like… Remember all of the focus on what lipstick Hillary [Clinton] was wearing? Do you know what I mean? It just sort of feels like, “Oh my God. Her hair again.”
Livanos: What I love, more than the hair, is that she almost takes out Thanos single handedly.
Why we didn’t learn about Captain Marvel’s sexuality in ‘Captain Marvel’ or maybe even ‘Endgame’
Acuna: A big conversation online has been Captain Marvel’s sexuality and even Brie Larson has shared an image of Captain Marvel with Valkyrie and I wanted to get what your perspectives were on that. I know that the [“Avengers: Endgame” directors] were very adamant about putting a gay moment into “Endgame,” and I think a lot of people wish that we could have seen something more upfront with Valkyrie and/or Captain Marvel.
Livanos: Speaking to Captain Marvel, in that installment, that was a movie about self-discovery and Carol re-finding herself. So in executing the film, we felt there wasn’t room in the narrative to tell that story. But, for everything else, I’d just say, “I believe that everyone’s on the spectrum.” I believe in the spectrum.
Is there a “Captain Marvel” sequel? Probably, but no one’s telling us.
Acuna: I’m going to ask one more quick thing because Walt Disney put out its schedule of all their movies.
Livanos: All the untitled movies.
Acuna: All of the untitled movies! Would you maybe be able to point out where we would be seeing a “Captain Marvel 2”?
DeConnick: I absolutely guarantee that we wouldn’t be working on it. [Laughter]
Livanos: I have signed a blood oath. I cannot.DeConnick: I don’t even know if there’s going to be a “Captain Marvel 2.” I couldn’t say.Acuna: Wouldn’t you say if there’s a movie that makes a billion dollars, it’s maybe a shoo-in to get a sequel?DeConnick: I understand that’s how it works but, you know. I cannot…Livanos: … Cannot confirm nor deny.Acuna: OK. Well maybe San Diego Comic-Con or D23.
“Captain Marvel” will be available on digital May 28 and Blu-ray June 11.
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