Brie Larson can push a Jeep up a hill. Not in her role as Carol Danvers or her superhero alter ego Captain Marvel, but as the very human Brie Larson. In March, SYFY FANGRRLS joined the group of journalists who visited the set of the highly anticipated Captain Marvel to speak with Larson about her titular role as the first woman to lead her own film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh, and getting strong enough to push a Jeep.
If you follow Larson on Instagram, you’ve seen her bulking up for her role as Captain Marvel. The whole "push a car up a hill" idea started as a joke with her trainer and ended with Samuel L. Jackson proudly showing strangers (i.e. us and random people he sits next to on planes, apparently) the video of her actually doing it.
"I was like, 'Well, she can move planets, the least I could do is move a car,’” Larson explained.
Months of training and stunt work not only physically transformed Larson for the role, but also helped her get into character as the badass Air Force pilot who works with Starforce, an elite alien military team.
“It's really become a huge part of how I learned more about her and became her, and embodied her was through that, was through discovering my own strength.”
Larson also had the chance to learn more about Carol straight from the source. She spoke with creator Kelly Sue DeConnick, who began writing for the character when Danvers first donned the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012. DeConnick is also a consultant on the film.
"I have to admit that talking with her was so surreal,” Larson said. "I feel like I just blacked out. I felt really nervous because it's this thing that, this woman that she created, that I feel very certain she knows way better than I do."
So... who is Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel?
"I think she has an ego, but in a healthy way,” Larson explained. "She doesn't have an unrealistic expectation of herself, she just owns that she's really good and really skilled. Which feels good to play. She also has an incredible sense of humor, makes fun of herself, makes fun of other people. Has no issue if someone makes fun of her.”
For Larson, the role has brought new opportunities to surprise and challenge herself as an actor.
"I will say that this character is probably the most dynamic character that I've ever played, there's the most range... I've had to go through every emotion possible with her,” she noted. "And a lot of this movie, although it has great comedy in it, there's also real depth to it, and emotion."
And Larson says she wants to see more of this type of nuanced character. "I wanna see complicated female characters,” she said. "I wanna see myself, which is not a simple person.”
"Maria as a character is an incredible badass in her own way,” Larson explained. "[Maria and Carol] are equals, and I think seeing two women that have a playful competitiveness while also mutual respect and care, and have gone through so much together, there's a lot of history, and are just best friends is something that I'm excited to see."
But the huge expectations and weight placed on the film as part of a moment in the MCU is something Larson is still grappling with. She is pretty much over the whole “first female blah blah blah” conversation.
“I feel like the more we talk about it, the more we perpetuate the myth that it's an impossible task,” she said. "No, if it wasn't like that before, it's because it was wrong. That was just wrong. Now we're just doing what's natural.”
As much as we all might wish we could be in a place culturally where these milestones are all behind us, we're just not. The fact one of the most successful franchises in recent history has had 10 years and 20 movies to make this happen yet this is the first female-led film is a BIG DEAL. Is she ready for the reactions and blockbuster success the film could garner, much like Black Panther in early 2018?
"I'm not ready. [Laughs] I hope I'm not ready,” she said. "Because I wanna be, if it is something, then I wanna be surprised, and I don't wanna have expectations, because I'm not in it for that. I didn't make this movie for any of those things so that I could attach a numerical value to it.”
But the truth is, whether or not Larson is ready, Captain Marvel will soon slip on that mantle as the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — the first led by a woman. Captain Marvel might have the help of some alien DNA to take on the world, but Brie Larson steps into her role decidedly human.
"All of my heroes were just unapologetically themselves. And they were flawed at times, and that's okay,” she told us. "So for me, it's part of who Carol is too. She's flawed. She's not perfect. So in order for me to feel comfortable stepping into this position, I have to accept my humanness and remind everybody that I'm a human, and I’m an artist. And I just wanna make art, and that's really it.”
Captain Marvel bursts into theaters March 8, 2019.