I’ve been waiting seven months to tell you something: We be Skrullin’.
Back on May 29, 2018, day 49 of 75 shooting Marvel Studio’s latest film Captain Marvel in Los Angeles, that was the phrase of the day after actor Ben Mendelsohn, in full Skrull make up, sat down to tell a group of journalists about his role in the latest entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Mendelsohn’s oft-repeated “We be Skrullin’” was his way of letting everyone know he believes the Skrulls are the best Marvel villains yet.
I’m Talos. I’m the battle commander of the Skrulls. I take it most of you know who Skrulls are? We kind of rule the shit. 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. I mean, look, we can be anyone, and we’re stronger than the rest of them. Basically that’s it. Yeah, we’re maligned, we’re misunderstood. But, you know, we’re Skrulls. We’re Skrullin. Any other questions?
Well, yes, Talos, quite a few.
We be Skrullin’ as the Skrulls come to Earth.
Captain Marvel is the last stop on the way to Avengers: Endgame and it sets the table for – what we assume from the Infinity War end credits – some universe-saving heroism from none other than Captain Marvel, otherwise known as Carol Danvers, played by Oscar winner Brie Larson. Before that happens, though, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will tell the origin story of maybe the only character powerful enough to defeat Thanos.
“I think part of what made us excited about the character was that she was such a powerful character in the comic books – and one of the most, if not the most, powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” said Captain Marvel producer Jonathan Schwarz (Marvel’s Kevin Feige has stated on numerous occasions that Carol is more powerful than any other character in the MCU). He added, “Seeing all that brought to bear is one of the big pleasures of the movie.”
In addition to setting up Endgame, Captain Marvel is Marvel’s first solo film lead by a woman, its first film fully set in the ‘90s (featuring blissfully unaware younger versions of Nick Fury and Phil Coulson), and it brings back some Guardians of the Galaxy supporting characters. Plus, one half of its directorial team is Marvel’s first female director. Oh, and it may also set up what’s coming beyond Avengers: Endgame, too, thanks to the fact that it shows the Kree/Skrull war, one of the most impactful and significant Marvel Comics storylines ever.
“I think if you’re going to put that on anybody’s shoulders, Carol’s are the strongest,” Schwartz said. “She was always a character that excited us from the comic books. In all the mythology and all the characters we had to draw from, she always kept rising to the top. Her powers are super-cool, her story’s super-cool, the world she gets to take part in is super-cool. And that sort of all goes into the calculus of, ‘What’s the next movie going to be?’”
Co-director Anna Boden directors Brie Larson and a stealth bomber.
Captain Marvel will do all that by starting somewhere completely unexpected. The film begins in space with Carol Danvers as a member of an “outer space Seal Team 6” called Starforce. Alongside her is the mysterious mentor (Jude Law), Korath (Djimon Hounsou, reprising his role from Guardians of the Galaxy), Minerva (Gemma Chan), Atlas (Alegenis Soto) and Bron Char (Rune Temte). They’re fighting for the Kree side in a long-running battle between them and the Skrulls. Most interestingly though, at the beginning of the film, Carol, who is an Earthling, actually believes she’s a Kree.
Why does she think that? How does she get her powers? Those questions are the big reveals of the film, which will treat Carol’s origin as a mystery to start. “How they met and what they offer to each other is very much at the heart of the film and the journey that Brie’s character goes on,” Jude Law said. “[Answering those questions] really would be the spoiler of all spoilers, to be honest.”
Eventually, events in the film (which is half set on Earth, half in space) will send Carol back to Earth to warn everyone about the Skrulls. There, she’ll start to realise that maybe she’s not Kree at all. Maybe she’s from Earth. And maybe friends like Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch) can help her figure it out.
Yes, the Rambeaus are in this movie – including Monica, who fans know from the comics as another amazing Marvel superhero. But Monica is just a child at this point in the story. Her mother, Maria, was a partner of Carol’s in the Air Force who believed Carol was dead...until she returns to Earth thinking she’s an alien.
Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Carol Danvers during a simpler time.
“[Maria] almost has to remind Carol who she is, where she came from, what she represents, who she’s about, and the mark that she can now place on the world through this power that she’s gained,” Lynch said. “So for me at this moment in time, I think it’s nice to see tenderness, love, care, and handling grief in a very complicated way”
As that’s happening, there’s also the not-so-small matter of the Skrulls to deal with. To help Carol with that, she’ll team up with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), long before he was the Avengers assembler we’ve previously seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, this is the first time Fury encounters any of the superhero stuff he’s so comfortable with come 2008's Iron Man – and yes, he still has both eyes.
“We’re meeting Nick Fury at a very interesting time in his life,” Schwartz said. “It’s kind of the mid-‘90s. The Cold War is over. The war on terror hasn’t begun yet. It’s a little bit of a slow period for worldwide espionage. And I think Fury is kind of wondering what his place in the world is, in a world where he feels maybe a little obsolete. And then aliens come down from outer space.”
Now, if you know anything about the shapeshifting Skrulls, you know their abilities open up a ton of possibilities for future Marvel storylines, such as the classic Secret Invasion, where it’s revealed several prominent heroes are actually Skrull imposters. And while Schwartz obviously wouldn’t say anything about that specifically, he did confirm that the idea had been discussed.
The relationship between Carol and a character whose name we still don’t know, played by Jude Law, is a key to the film.
“Yes, we talked about Secret Invasion,” he said. “I wouldn’t go into this movie saying ‘Which one of these superheroes is a Skrull?’ because Carol is more or less the first superhero to show up on Earth. But are we planting seeds for future movies? Always.”
On day 49, journalists were not allowed to see what was being shot as Marvel deemed it too spoilery. But with Mendelsohn in full makeup and Jackson sporting white tracking dots around his face and eye, it seems possible a battle with the Skrulls could be how Fury loses his peeper. It’s not the only thing Fury will lose in Captain Marvel either. He’ll lose a bit of his innocence too.
“He’s not as jaded about the world yet,” Jackson said of his role in the film. “He hasn’t grown into his cynicism quite yet.” That might also come from the fact Jackson makes it sound like Fury and Carol’s relationship is a very important aspect to the film.
Spending time with her, he discovers things about her that lead him to believe that she is something other than what she has presented herself to be or even knows herself to be. So during the course of interacting with her, they do become compatriots. They have a shared sense of humour. He’s open to the difference in what she may be and what she may not be. And he’s definitely willing to help her explore what she needs to find out to find out who she is and what and how she came to be.
Larson with Samuel L. Jackson and her directors.
While Jackson was glad to finally be back in a Marvel movie (after disappearing for a few years before that Infinity War cameo), he seemed even more excited to once again be working with Brie Larson.
“The girl that I did Kong [Skull Island] and [Larson’s yet-to-be-released directorial debut] Unicorn Store with is not this person,” he said. “She’s like five percent body fat now. And she used to send me workout videos, which were like crazy, dope workout videos.”
This one, though posted online months later, is probably a good example of what Jackson was talking about.
— Brie Larson (@brielarson) January 4, 2019
Jackson is so anxious to brag about his co-star, he took out his iPhone (complete with Mr. Glass purple rubber case) and started going through his texts. Finally, he came on a video Larson sent him of her pushing a Jeep up a hill, backwards. (Which, unfortunately, isn’t online.) “So yeah, I’m impressed with what she’s doing,” he said.
It’s hard to not be impressed with all the little details that were dropped during the set visit too. There’s a cat in the film named Goose (played by four different cats) who is “not fully a cat” according to Lynch. When Larson crashes back to Earth, she’s going to do so through a Blockbuster Video, which was fully recreated in the San Fernando Valley during production. The film will see Carol “go binary” – a term used in the comics when she absorbs enough energy to tap into superpowers she once had as the cosmic hero Binary – and include her signature, bad-ass mohawk look as created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie. In fact, DeConnick’s Marvel comic book run on the character was the most influential one on the film – and the creator not only helped with the movie, she has a cameo too.
Basically, Captain Marvel puts a lot on Carol’s superhuman shoulders, not just in this movie, but culturally and for future movies too. However, if everything comes together, audiences won’t just be Skrullin’, they’ll be cheering.
Captain Marvel opens March 8.