Entertainment

Everything We Know About 'Captain Marvel'

Captain Marvel movie
Steve Granitz/Getty Images/Marvel Comics

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the ending of Avengers: Infinity Warand other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What was that damn logo? For less comic book-fluent moviegoers, that was one of the many the burning questions the post-credits stinger of Avengers: Infinity War provoked. (Besides "Wait, Spider-Man isn't really dead, right??" and "Why is Thanos so mean??") When Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury clutched a device sending out a top-secret message right before he turned to dust, audiences were introduced to the insignia for Captain Marvel, an iconic character who first appeared in the 1960s and is also the newest star of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

When it arrives in theaters on March 8, 2019, Captain Marvel will be the first Marvel movie to star a woman in the lead role. Oscar-winner Brie Larson will play Carol Danvers, the US Air Force pilot who gains some pretty impressive superpowers after getting exposed to alien technology. (It's always the alien technology!) Though the story will be set in the 1990s, it's reasonable to expect the movie to set up some important plot points that will pay off in April's Avengers: Endgame, which will resolve the cliffhanger of Infinity War. Clearly, Captain Marvel will be a big deal.

So, what do you need to know about her before she makes her big-screen debut? There's plenty of time to catch up on adventures of Captain Marvel in the comics -- the current run has made some interesting tweaks to her backstory that could influence the film -- but if you want to know enough to look forward to the movie, we've got you covered. 

captain marvel brie larson
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel | Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as the title character

As mentioned above, the 28-year-old actress who won an Oscar for her role in 2015's Room will play the lead role of Captain Marvel. Since picking up that shiny piece of hardware, she's also starred in the lumbering blockbuster Kong: Skull Island and the explosive indie Free Fire. Her casting in Captain Marvel was confirmed at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2016 after years of speculation following the project's announcement in 2014. Actresses like Rebecca Ferguson, Olivia Wilde, Jessica Chastain, and UFC fighter Ronda Rousey were either rumored to be involved or generated fan enthusiasm at certain points in the project's development, but Larson clearly impressed Disney with her combination of old-fashioned star power and acting chops.

"Captain Marvel has powers that far surpass many of her heroic counterparts, and in order to bring this superhero to life and make her relatable and disarming we needed an actress with both range and humanity," MCU head honcho Kevin Feige told Vanity Fair last year in a cover story about Larson. "So, like the best of our leading characters who have brought the Marvel Universe to life, Brie possesses the depth and energy that can fuse firepower, guts, and a great story."

The story will be set in the '90s and involves aliens

So Larson is the star, but what is the movie actually about? This will be the 21st movie in the MCU, so at this point you should know what to expect: an action-packed origin story filled with quippy one-liners, fancy special effects, and some Easter eggs for fans. The official synopsis from Marvel states that "the story follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races." Again, pretty standard stuff -- no need to reinvent the wheel here. 

The most compelling wrinkle in the story is that it will be set in the 1990s, making it the second origin story that also works as a period piece following the WWII-set Captain America: The First Avenger. (Oddly enough, the latest X-men movie will take place in the '90s too, so get ready to hear some grunge!) As we learn about Captain Marvel's early days, we'll also be introduced to the Skrulls, an alien race that Vulture describes as "shape-shifters from the planet Throneworld."

There's a cool trailer filled with action

On September 16, Marvel released the first trailer for Captain Marvel. Opening with our hero falling out of the sky and crashing into a Blockbuster Video, the preview sells the '90s nostalgia angle pretty hard -- there are beepers and a de-aged Samuel L. Jackson playing a young Nick Fury -- but it also establishes a whiz-bang sci-fi adventure tone. We get a glimpse of Jude Law's alien mentor, some shots of Danvers in her military days, and, most surprisingly, a moment where Captain Marvel punches out what appears to be a sweet old lady. Does Captain Marvel have a vendetta against the elderly? Or is the woman actually an alien-shape-shifter? We'll have to wait until March to find out.

There's a second trailer with a bit more backstory

In December 2018, Marvel released another trailer, which replayed some of the action beats from the first clip but also gave us a stronger sense of what the movie's story will be. Anette Benning's Kree scientist character lays out some of the essential plot elements when she says, "We found you with no memory. We made you one of us, so you could live longer, stronger, superior. You were reborn." With its pinging between different periods in Danvers's life, the preview suggests the movie will use memory and amnesia to tell a complicated origin myth. 

captain marvel srkulls
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

We got our first look at the Skrulls

Towards the beginning of September, Entertainment Weekly released the first official photos of Captain Marvel in action, including the first official look at her costume. But lots of the conversation online was about the reveal of the the Skrulls, the alien race that will play a central role in the new movie. In addition to pointy ears and green skin, these bad guys also have some very dramatic coats and apparently love walking on the beach together. (Yes, it could be an album cover.) Could the old woman in the trailer be a Skrull in disguise?

captain marvel
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel is a Nine Inch Nails fan

It is official: Captain Marvel listens to industrial music. Why else would one of the first images from Captain Marvel show Danvers wearing a t-shirt for Trent Reznor's band? Clearly, this will be an integral plot point. 

anna boden ryan fleck
'Captain Marvel' directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden | Rob Kim/Getty Images

It's got a talented creative team behind it

Captain Marvel will be directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the indie filmmaking duo behind films the Oscar-nominated Ryan Gosling character study Half Nelson, the baseball drama Sugar, and the gambling movie Mississippi Grind. They'll be making history, too, as Boden will be the first woman to direct a Marvel film. Boden and Fleck's prior works are small-scale, naturalistic stories told with nuance and care -- pretty different than the standard special effects-driven Marvel fare. Like many previous Marvel directors, Boden and Fleck also have TV experience, having helmed episodes of shows like Billions, The Affair, and The Big C. The pair started shooting at the end of January 2018.

In an interview with Collider, the pair referenced a handful of classic action films, including RoboCop and Terminator 2, that they drew inspiration from while filming Captain Marvel. ("It is not a dark movie in that way like RoboCop," clarified Boden.") They also name-checked two Gene Hackman movies from the 1970s -- The French Connection and The Conversation -- while discussing their work on the project.  

The writing credit on the film's poster indicates that Boden and Fleck have a "screenplay by" credit along with Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Tomb Raider) and Jac Schaeffer (The Hustle). Marvel's collaborative writing process makes the credits always a bit complicated; there's also a "story by" credit for Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and the team of Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (Race).  Writers including Liz Flahive (GLOW), Carly Mensch (Weeds), and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) have also worked on the projected at various points, but do not have a final credit on the film. 

Jude law
Jude Law and Brie Larson in 'Captain Marvel' | Marvel Studios

The supporting cast includes Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, and Annette Bening

Larson isn't the only high-caliber actor to join the Marvel Universe with this film. Oscar-nominated actor Jude Law will play the original Captain Marvel, named Mar-Vell, who will apparently teach Carol Danvers how to use her powers. (He's a member of the Kree Empire -- more on them later.) Law is no stranger to franchise fare, having starred alongside Iron Man himself in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films and in last year's would-be-blockbuster King Arthur: Legend of the Swordbut this will be his first superhero movie. (Back in the mid-'00s, he was considered for the role of Superman in Superman Returns but turned it down because of the costume.)

He'll be joined by Ben Mendelsohn, who starred in Boden and Fleck's Mississippi Grind where he played a degenerate gambler with a kind heart. More recently he's been playing villains in films like Ready Player One and Rogue One. The Australian actor will play the shape-shifting Skrull commander Talos. "We kind of rule the shit," Mendelsohn said in a set-interview with /Film. "Most of the rest of the Marvel comic universe are punks basically. And I guess to quote Snoop Dogg, we are the shiznit. We stand above."

What's more surprising is that actress Annette Bening, a performer more known for dramas like The Kids Are All Right or 20th Century Women, will also be joining the MCU. Her character's exact name and identity remains a mystery -- she'll play a Kree scientist who helps to show Captain Marvel the ropes -- but either way expect her to class things up the way Robert Redford did when he popped up in Captain America: Winter Soldier. She practically guarantees some gravitas.

captain marvel
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios

Captain Marvel is getting a new comic too

Pretty soon, you won't just be catching Captain Marvel in the movie theater. On October 2, the New York Timesreported that you'll soon also be able to follow the hero's adventures in a new comic written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Carmen Carnero. The new series will "reconnect Captain Marvel with allies like Iron Man and her best friend Spider-Woman," which sounds like the type of team-up that you might find in the next Avengers movie as well. 

Nick fury avengers
Samuel L. Jackson in 'Captain Marvel' | Marvel Studios

Plus, there will be familiar faces from other Marvel movies

While it's unclear exactly how Captain Marvel will tie into the larger plot of Avengers: Infinity War -- don't rule out some time travel shenanigans -- we do know that some familiar faces will make appearances. Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury will appear in the film (he'll have both of his eyes this time) alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. staple Agent Phil Coulson, played by series veteran Clark Gregg. Expect them to get some of that weird anti-aging CGI treatment we all know and love.

In addition to the S.H.I.E.L.D. actors, there will also be a crossover with Guardians of the Galaxy. Ronan (Lee Pace) and Korath (Djimon Hounsou) will have parts in the movie. Why those two exactly? They're both members of the alien species known as the Kree Empire, who play a significant role in getting Danvers her powers.

The movie will also reportedly feature a cameo appearance from the late Stan Lee, who passed away last November at the age of 95. The comic book head honcho filmed his roles in Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame before his death, so expect him to pop up somewhere in the film. 

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Dan Jackson is a staff writer at Thrillist Entertainment. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.