Indie directors: Making Captain Marvel was like going to Marvel University
Captain Marvel directors on women behind cameras, filming a blockbuster
Ever since half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) crumbled into dust with the snap of supervillain Thanos' fingers, fans have wondered if Captain Marvel will be the one to save the day.
The superhero moniker of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), she becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes in the 90s-set film that opens here tomorrow, and is also the one who S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pages during the post-credits scene of last year's Avengers: Infinity War.
For Captain Marvel directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the role that Danvers will play in the sequel Avengers: End Game, which opens here on April 24, is also a mystery to them.
Boden told The New Paper at a roundtable interview last month: "They won't tell us anything about Avengers. They have the lock and key on that, (so) we feel no commitment or responsibility to that movie at all.
"We are just focused on ours."
Captain Marvel, the 21st film in the MCU, is a landmark not just because Danvers is the first female Marvel superhero to have a lead role in the franchise.
Boden is also the first female director to helm an MCU movie.
She said: "I think it is really important to have female voices behind the camera as well as in front of it. There were a lot of women collaborators on this movie, particularly early on in the writing process, even before we got involved."
When asked if she was worried that Captain Marvel will be compared to DC's Wonder Woman (2017), which was also the first female solo superhero film in the DC Extended Universe and directed by Patty Jenkins, Boden said: "I feel like we live in a world that ought to have many female superhero movies.
"There should be as much diversity in female superheroes as there is in our male superheroes."
Boden, 39, and Fleck, 42, have been writing and directing independent films, such as 2006's Half Nelson and 2015's Mississippi Grind, as a duo for more than a decade, and were in town to promote their first blockbuster.
They were hired in April 2017 after many meetings and at least five pitches, impressing Marvel Studios with their vision for the character played by Oscar winner Larson.
Fleck said at an earlier press conference: "We were on the same page about making sure that this character was dynamic, complex, human, as messy as possible, funny and tough but also vulnerable at the same time."
Boden said at the roundtable: "This is the first time we have written or directed a movie about a character that so many people already have so many feelings about. So there is a great responsibility in that.
"Luckily, it is also a character whom we love a lot and so we just tried as much as possible with Brie and with the rest of the team to be as true as we could ."
Like MCU directors Jon Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), Fleck and Boden had to make the jump from low-budget indies to the big stage.
Fleck said: "We have learnt so much, I can't even begin. Visual effects alone was a huge learning curve.
"Just going through that process was like going to Marvel University. If we make a smaller movie again, and we will, we will know how to bring some of the stuff we have learnt on this movie to that process."
The pair also helped to write the screenplay for Captain Marvel, and Fleck said they were given a lot of freedom in the beginning, despite it being a big team process at Marvel, which is not what they are used to.
He said: "We are not as versed as the Marvel staff in the history of the MCU and where it is headed, so they were great guides in the process."
Boden added: "Yes, there are a lot more voices, but thank goodness (for that). So many talented people work on (these movies) and we need them all because it is such a team effort and collaboration."
A big draw for the duo was the casting of Larson, as the idea of her playing Danvers was "magnetising" to them.
Fleck said: "Brie is just so human, and she is an amazing actress. When you see the whole movie, you will see that the range she has to exhibit is epic."
The off-screen chemistry between Larson and Jackson, who reprises his iconic role as Fury but 25 years younger, also dovetailed perfectly into the directors' penchant for wit and humour.
Boden said: "It is funny. We showed the script to Sam the first time we met, and he said, 'It feels like you have written our relationship in this script, the pre-existing relationship I have with Brie.'
"They have that poking-fun-at-each-other humour between them, and it really comes across on screen and is an important part of the movie."