The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t in the best place story-wise. When supervillain and purple Josh Whedon look-alike Thanos snapped his fingers at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” half of the characters that we’ve been introduced to over the studio’s ten-year history were seemingly obliterated into piles of snowy ash.
One of these characters was Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, who paged a mysterious number in a post-credits scene before fading away. In the final shot, Captain Marvel’s star-emblazoned red and blue symbol flashes to life. The comic character is the newest addition to the MCU, and has been described as the franchise’s “strongest superhero yet.” But before she meets up with the likes of Thor and Black Widow, viewers will get a chance to learn about the captain’s backstory in a self-titled debut film that hits theaters March 2019.
The film stars Oscar-winner Brie Larson as Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel), a half-human, half-alien ex-Air Force pilot who returns to Earth in the 1990s to fend off infamous Marvel baddies known as the Skrulls, who have the insidious power to change their appearances and deceive enemies at will.
Although the project has been kept tightly under wraps since Larson joined in 2016, the first trailer, which dropped early last week, has given us a first look at what we can expect from Marvel Films’ new venture.
In just under two minutes, we learn that while Carol has forged a life with the fictional Kree, she has no recollection of a life on Earth. Apart from meeting a digitally de-aged and lower-ranking Nick Fury, the trailer also features glimpses of new characters played by veteran actors Jude Law and Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians”).
Apart from introducing a new time period and vital player in the MCU, however, the film is also receiving attention for bringing some long overdue diversity on and off-screen. Captain Marvel is the first of the company’s twenty-plus films to feature a female lead (February’s “Black Panther” is the only Marvel movie that has been led by a person of color), as well as the first to be directed by a woman. Although the series has grown to feature an array of nuanced, active female supporting characters, the fact that it has taken over ten years for Marvel to progress past its ubiquitous initial lineup serves as an indicator of how far Hollywood blockbusters still have to go in terms of representation.
The fact that a trailer featuring a female protagonist was released under the MCU’s name could be enough to catch audience’s attention. But, when I first watched the teaser on Tuesday, it occurred to me that it felt markedly different to me than almost any other marketing that I’d ever seen for a sci-fi or action film before. Throughout the trailer, the focus never wavers from Carol and her story. From the moment she lands on Earth to the last shot of her exercising her superhuman powers, she is the driving force of the action and insight that we get into her world. In a particularly powerful sequence, we see flashes of her rising to her feet throughout her life, from little girl to marine captain to otherworldly warrior.
We’ve seen female leads get cast in beloved franchises from “Ghostbusters” to “Star Wars,” but seeing a narrative that positions a female superheroes abilities and selfhood as undoubtedly vital to the resolution of a story with no in-world protests or ties to a male love interest doesn’t just feel long overdue; it feels groundbreaking. To top things off, the film even opens next year on International Women’s Day.
Fans have taken to social media to express an outpouring of support for Larson and the project, creating hashtags like #ShesTheCaptainNow and #selfiesforbrie (in which Twitter users around the world shared photos of themselves and wrote about what seeing a lead female superhero means to them). Many of the captions also celebrated the actress’s off-screen activism in promoting women’s rights and justice for sexual assault survivors.
While moviegoers will have to wait until next spring to learn the full story, it’s promising to see that “Captain Marvel” already appears to be taking the franchise in a new direction.
Edited by Siena DeBolt | firstname.lastname@example.org