Given the superhero franchise is now 11 years old it's time to freshen things up a bit, and Captain Marvel doesn't disappoint. Most significantly, it's the first MCU movie to be led by a female character, levelling out the gender playing field in a genre that is often dominated by boys' own adventures.
Here are three pivotal figures involved in Captain Marvel's production who are steering the MCU in exciting new directions…
1. Brie Larson – the star
Oscar-winning Room star Brie Larson is the face of Marvel's newest adventure and has received critical acclaim for her performance. Polygon raves about Larson's self-aware sense of fun, describing Captain Marvel as a "rare female action hero who is funny, knows she's funny and enjoys it".
Not only is Larson the first woman to lead an MCU blockbuster, she's also the first Academy Award winner to do so. (Previous Marvel male leads like Robert Downey Jr. have been nominated but never won.) In the process, she brings a level of artistic prestige to the latest MCU movie while also sending out an empowering message to audiences that such territory is no longer the stronghold of male characters.
To that end, Larson has been open in sharing footage of her training for the role, and has also been snapped on the red carpet taking inspiring selfies with young fans. Larson's casting sends out an important message in the wake of game-changing Hollywood movements Me Too and Time's Up.
The impact of Larson's casting is also set to have an internal impact with the MCU too: it can be no coincidence that the long-gestating Black Widow movie, starring Scarlett Johansson, is currently being fast-tracked into production, after years of controversial delays.
Empire's Helen O'Hara says the importance of Larson's presence as a woman in this genre is not to be underestimated. O'Hara writes: "Carol Danvers' final battle offers a radical message and becomes a powerful metaphor for what could happen if we stop waiting to be told that we are enough; if we stop believing the people who tell us we're too emotional or too weak."
2. Anna Boden – the director
Anna Boden co-directs Captain Marvel with regular collaborator Ryan Fleck, making them the latest MCU directorial team after the Russo brothers. (The Russos directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and this year's Avengers: Endgame.)
Even more significantly, she's the first woman film-maker to ever tackle a Marvel blockbuster. She enters the fray having delivered a series of critically acclaimed hits with Fleck, including uncredited work on high school drama Half Nelson (which got Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination), sports movie Sugar and gambling/road trip odyssey Mississippi Grind. (The last movie, incidentally, features Captain Marvel actor Ben Mendelsohn.)
Boden's position as director is set to pave the way for greater representation of women in the MCU. Already, Australian film-maker Cate Shortland, who directed tense thriller Berlin Syndrome, is being lined up to tackle the Black Widow movie. And Marvel's planned Eternals movie is set to be directed by Chloe Zhao, who last year delivered a critical hit with moving drama The Rider.
3. Pinar Toprak – the composer
It's been a significant month for comic book movie soundtracks. At the 91st Academy Awards, Marvel's Black Panther became the first superhero film to win the Oscar for Best Original Score – the award went to Sweden's Ludwig Goransson, regular collaborator with Childish Gambino. Not even the esteemed John Williams won an Oscar for his feted Superman soundtrack back in 1978.
And the firsts keep on coming with Pinar Toprak's score for Captain Marvel. Toprak is the first woman to score an MCU movie, and indeed the first woman to ever score a comic book blockbuster. The Turkish-American composer comes out of the celebrated Hans Zimmer's Remote Control stable, essentially a studio where aspiring composers learn their chops. It was there she developed her programming skills before going on to write for TV, video games (Toprak is credited with writing 'additional music' for Fortnite) and films.
Toprak has past form in the superhero area: she composed additional music for DC's Justice League, working alongside Danny Elfman. This led to her gig composing for Superman origin series Krypton, which in turn has helped lead to Captain Marvel.
"It's an incredible honour to be a part of the Marvel Universe," Toprak posted on social media. "I have so many people to thank for helping me on this journey but first and foremost, my incredible agents Laura Engel and Richard Kraft for believing in me from day one."
Fingers crossed she can give Captain Marvel the musical oomph the character deserves.
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