Captain Marvel is a 2019 American superhero film based on Marvel Comics featuring the character Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, with Geneva Robertson-Dworet also contributing to the screenplay. Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, alongside Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Jude Law. Set in 1995, the story follows Danvers as she becomes Captain Marvel after Earth is caught in the center of a galactic conflict between two alien civilizations.
Development of the film began by May 2013. It was officially announced in October 2014 as Marvel Studios' first female-led superhero film. Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve were hired to write the film the following April after submitting separate takes on the character, and borrowed elements from Roy Thomas' 1971 "Kree–Skrull War" comic book storyline. Larson was announced as Danvers at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, with Boden and Fleck hired to direct in April 2017. Robertson-Dworet was soon hired to re-write the script, with the rest of the cast added by the start of filming. Location shooting began in January 2018, with principal photography starting that March in California and concluding in Louisiana in July 2018. Several actors reprise their roles from previous MCU films in Captain Marvel, including Jackson and Gregg, who were digitally de-aged in post-production to reflect the film's 1990s setting.
Captain Marvel premiered in London on February 27, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on March 8, as part of Phase Three of the MCU. The film grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the first female-led superhero film to pass the billion-dollar mark. It became the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2019 and was the 23rd-highest-grossing film of all time during its theatrical run. The film received praise for the performances of the cast, particularly that of Larson. A sequel, The Marvels, is scheduled for release on July 28, 2023.
In 1995, on the Kree Empire's capital planet of Hala, Starforce member Vers suffers from amnesia and recurring nightmares involving an older woman. Yon-Rogg, her mentor and commander, trains Vers to control her abilities, while the Supreme Intelligence, the artificial intelligence that rules the Kree, urges her to keep her emotions in check.
During a mission to rescue an undercover operative infiltrating a group of Skrulls, alien shapeshifters with whom the Kree are at war, Vers is captured by Skrull commander Talos. A probe of Vers' memories leads them to Earth. Vers escapes and crash-lands in Los Angeles. Her presence attracts S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, whose investigation is interrupted by a Skrull attack. Vers recovers a crystal containing her extracted memories in the ensuing chase while Fury kills a Skrull impersonating Coulson.
Talos, disguised as Fury's boss Keller, orders Fury to work with Vers and keep tabs on her. Using her extracted memories, Vers and Fury go to the Project Pegasus installation at a U.S. Air Force base. They discover that Vers was a pilot presumed to have died in 1989 while testing an experimental light-speed engine designed by Dr. Wendy Lawson, whom Vers recognizes as the woman from her nightmares. Fury informs S.H.I.E.L.D. of their location and a team arrives. Fury realizes that Keller is Talos and helps Vers escape in a jet with Lawson's stowaway cat Goose.
They fly to Louisiana to meet former pilot Maria Rambeau, the last person to see Vers and Lawson alive. Rambeau and her daughter Monica reveal that Vers is Carol Danvers, who was once like family to them. Talos, arriving unarmed, explains that the Skrulls are refugees searching for a new home and that Lawson was Mar-Vell, a renegade Kree scientist helping them. Talos plays a recovered recording from Lawson's jet, prompting Danvers to remember the crash: Yon-Rogg killed Lawson to prevent her from destroying the engine before the Kree could recover it. Destroying the engine herself, Danvers absorbed the energy from the ensuing explosion, gaining powers but losing her memory.
Danvers, Talos, Fury, and Rambeau locate Lawson's cloaked laboratory orbiting Earth, where Lawson hid several Skrulls, including Talos' family, and the Tesseract, the power source of Lawson's engine. There, Danvers is captured by Starforce and interfaces with the Supreme Intelligence. Danvers removes the Kree implant that suppressed her powers during their encounter, allowing her to reach her full potential. In the subsequent battle, Fury retrieves Goose, who is revealed to be an alien Flerken. Goose swallows the Tesseract and scratches Fury, blinding his left eye. Danvers destroys a Kree bomber, forcing Kree officer Ronan the Accuser and his squadron to retreat.
Danvers then overpowers Yon-Rogg on Earth and sends him back to Hala with a warning to the Supreme Intelligence. Danvers departs to help the Skrulls find a new homeworld, leaving Fury a modified pager to contact her in an emergency. Meanwhile, Fury drafts an initiative to locate heroes like Danvers, naming it after her Air Force call sign, "Avenger". In a mid-credits scene, set in 2018, the activated pager is being monitored by the Avengerswhen Danvers appears. In a post-credits scene, Goose climbs onto Fury's desk and regurgitates the Tesseract.
- Brie Larson as Carol Danvers / Vers / Captain Marvel:
An ex-U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and member of an elite Kree military unit called Starforce. She was imbued with superhuman strength, energy projection, and flight after exposure to Tesseract energy. Larson described Danvers as a "believer in truth and justice" and a "bridge between Earth and space", who must balance her unemotional Kree side with her "flawed" human half. Larson also called Danvers aggressive, quick-tempered, and invasive—attributes that help her in a fight but prove to be character flaws. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Larson was cast because of her ability to balance the character's vast powers with her humanity. Due to concern that Larson (who was 26 when she was cast) was too young to portray an accomplished airman, screenwriter Nicole Perlman consulted with the Air Force, who said it was possible for someone to excel between the ages of 28 and 34. Larson trained for nine months for the role, learning judo, boxing, and wrestling. She also visited Nellis Air Force Base and met with active duty airmen, including Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt and Thunderbirds pilot Major Stephen Del Bagno, in preparation for the role. Carol Danvers is portrayed as a thirteen-year-old by Mckenna Grace, and as a six-year-old by London Fuller.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury:
The future director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who at this time is a low-level bureaucrat. Fury appears without his signature eye patch as the film is set before he loses his eye. Feige explained that Danvers is the first superhero that Fury has come across, which sets him on a path to his role working with heroes in later-set MCU films. Jackson described Fury at this point as a desk jockey, who has not yet become cynical towards bureaucracy and who learns in the film that there are superpowered beings who could help S.H.I.E.L.D. Jackson added that trusting Danvers plays a key role in his development, as they become "compatriots" throughout the film. Jackson was digitally de-aged by 25 years, the first time Marvel had done this for an entire film.
- Ben Mendelsohn as Talos / Keller:
Talos is the shape-shifting leader of the Skrulls who goes undercover at S.H.I.E.L.D. as Fury's boss, Keller. Mendelsohn described Keller as "buttoned up" compared to Talos's "more laid-back" Skrull persona. Mendelsohn uses an American accent inspired by former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for Keller, and his native Australian accent for Talos; the latter was chosen, after a "lengthy discussion", due to what Mendelsohn called "earthy correctness". The makeup and prosthetics necessary to portray Talos took "a couple of hours" to apply. Executive producer Johnathan Schwartz added that "it's sort of fun to show off both the Skrull's powers and Ben's range as an actor" with the character. Talos also takes on a surfer-girl form, portrayed by Emily Ozrey and Abigaille Ozrey, and a Kree soldier disguise played by Duane Henry. An early version of the script had the character dying in the film.
- Djimon Hounsou as Korath:
A Kree swordsman and second-in-command of Starforce. Hounsou explained that Korath was "at his infancy" in the film compared to his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), but was "still a humorless machine".
- Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser:
A high-ranking Kree official. Compared with his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan is not yet a "radical zealot", with his role in the Kree military intersecting with Starforce "in an interesting way".
- Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau:
One of Danvers' oldest friends and a fellow Air Force pilot who goes by the call sign "Photon". She is a single mother to daughter Monica. Lynch described Rambeau as "resilient" and someone "that you don't feel like you need to help". Larson called Rambeau "the representation of love" in the film and "an incredible badass". She described the friendship between Danvers and Rambeau as equal, with "a playful competitiveness [and a] mutual respect". Like Larson, Lynch met with active duty airmen in preparation for the role. In particular, she met with pilots who are also mothers. Lynch was excited to portray a character the audience would be proud of and could relate to, especially mothers and members of the black community, helping to continue "a real through-line" for African-American characters in the MCU after Black Panther (2018).
- Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva:
A Kree sniper and member of Starforce. Chan explained that Minn-Erva was "the star of Starforce" before Danvers joined the team and is "slightly threatened by someone else who has come in and is also very talented".
- Annette Bening as the Supreme Intelligence and Mar-Vell / Dr. Wendy Lawson:
The Supreme Intelligence is an artificial intelligence that is the collective embodiment of the greatest minds of the Kree people, and the ruler of the Kree Empire. It appears in different forms to each person, specifically to Vers as rebel Kree scientist Mar-Vell, who had disguised herself on Earth as Danvers' boss Dr. Wendy Lawson. Mar-Vell was originally written as a male love interest to Danvers as in the comics, but after struggling to cast the character, co-director Anna Boden suggested that they cast a woman instead, and tie her in to the Supreme Intelligence storyline by combining those characters. Boden said Bening was "regal" as the Supreme Intelligence, and "casual and cool and laid back" as Lawson. Feige said changing Mar-Vell's gender was important to Danvers' development in the film, giving her a female mentor.
- Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson:
A rookie agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who works closely with Fury. Gregg said the film would be "the earliest we will have seen [Coulson in the MCU], so when he says 'Mr. Stark, this isn't my first rodeo' in Iron Man (2008), this is maybe the rodeo he's talking about."He had to work to portray Coulson as "a little less crusty and jaded" than he is in the present day of the MCU. Though Coulson encountered the Kree in the MCU television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Schwartz noted that Captain Marvel would not need to worry about that since it is a prequel where Kree is not even "part of his vocabulary yet". Like Jackson, Gregg was digitally de-aged by 25 years.
- Jude Law as Yon-Rogg:
The commander of Starforce and Danvers' mentor, who trains her to use her new powers. Law said that his character is "driven by a belief in the divine leadership of the Kree people. So he's almost a devout warrior—unquestioning, conservative, but inspirational." Law also stated that his character has a special relationship with Danvers, whom he views as a protégée, which becomes a source of tension in the film with the other members of Starforce. Robert Downey Jr., who portrays Tony Stark in the MCU films and who co-starred with Law in Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its sequel (2011), counseled him on working with Marvel before Law took the part.
Additional members of Starforce include Algenis Pérez Soto as Att-Lass, the marksman of the team, and Rune Temte as Bron-Char, the "bigger, stronger guy who fights with his fists". Maria's daughter, Monica Rambeau, is played by Akira and Azari Akbar as an eleven-year-old and a five-year-old, respectively. Sharon Blynn portrays Soren, Talos' wife. Robert Kazinsky appears as a biker nicknamed "The Don". Vik Sahay plays a Torfan, while Chuku Modu portrays the Kree spy Soh-Larr. Colin Ford appears as Danvers' brother, Steve, and Kenneth Mitchell plays their father. Danvers' comic book cat Chewie (named for the Star Wars character Chewbacca) appears in the film, renamed Goose after the Top Gun (1986) character Nick "Goose" Bradshaw. Its name was changed since Star Wars is a contemporary franchise and not specific to Danvers, unlike the pilot-themed Top Gun. Goose is portrayed by four different cats, each chosen for their actions and personality: Reggie, Archie, Rizzo and Gonzo.
Real-life Air Force pilots Matthew "Spider" Kimmel and Stephen "Cajun" Del Bagno appear as themselves. Del Bagno died months prior to the film's release, and it is dedicated to his memory. Captain Marvel comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick makes a cameo appearance as a train station passerby, and Stan Lee, co-creator of Captain Marvel, appears posthumously as himself memorizing the lines for his cameo in Mallrats (1995). Reprising their MCU roles for the mid-credits scene are Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk, and Don Cheadle as James Rhodes / War Machine.
Captain Marvel grossed $426.8 million in the United States and Canada, and $701.6 millionin other territories, for a worldwide total of $1.128 billion. It had a worldwide opening of $456.7 million, the sixth-biggest of all time, and biggest opening for a female-led film. Deadline Hollywood estimated that the film had a total production and advertising cost of $300 million, and predicted that it would surpass its break-even point by reaching $750 million within its first week. It is the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2019, behind Spider-Man: Far From Home, Frozen II, The Lion King and Avengers: Endgame. On April 2, 2019, the film crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide, becoming the first female-led superhero movie to do so, as well as the seventh Marvel title, the 19th Disney film, and 38th film overall. Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $414 million, accounting for production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs, with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from home media, placing it fifth on their list of 2019's "Most Valuable Blockbusters".
The film's first 24 hours of advance ticket sales, which began on January 7, 2019, ranked third on Fandango for an MCU film, behind Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther, and second on Atom Tickets, behind Infinity War. According to Fandango, Captain Marvel had the third-largest advanced ticket sales of any MCU film, behind Infinity War and Black Panther, and surpassed Wonder Woman and Aquaman (2018) during the same time period. The film made $61.4 million on its first day, including $20.7 million from Thursday night previews, which was the fifth-highest total for a Marvel film and second-highest for a March release behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). It made $153.4 million over its opening weekend, the third-best March opening and seventh-highest of the MCU. The film remained in first place during its second weekend, with $69.3 million, the second-highest sophomore weekend in March behind Beauty and the Beast (2017). The film grossed $35.2 million in its third weekend, dropping to second, behind Us. In the following weeks it dropped to third, fifth, sixth, and fourth, before rising to second again in its eighth weekend with the release of Avengers: Endgame.
On its first day of international release, the film made $5.9 million in South Korea and $1.7 million in France, as well as $2.51 million from Thursday night previews in China, the fourth-best for an MCU film in the country. Through its first two days of release in foreign territories the film made $44 million, including $9.1 million in South Korea, $3 million in Brazil, $2.9 million in France and $2.5 million in Australia. It also grossed $34 million on its first day in China, the third-best superhero opening day ever in the country. The film went on to have a foreign opening weekend of $302.4 million, the fifth-best of all time. Its largest markets were China ($89.3 million), South Korea ($24.1 million), the UK ($16.8 million), Brazil ($13.4 million, the second-best opening of any film in the country's history) and Mexico ($12.8 million, fifth-best ever). Through its first 12 days of release, the film's highest-grossing foreign countries were China ($135.7 million), South Korea ($37.5 million), the United Kingdom ($32.9 million), Brazil ($26.1 million) and Mexico ($25.7 million). By April 2, the film's largest foreign markets were China ($152.3 million), South Korea ($43.7 million), the UK ($43.3 million), Brazil ($34.5 million) and Mexico ($31.8 million).
The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 79%, with an average score of 6.8/10, based on 523 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Packed with action, humor, and visual thrills, Captain Marvel introduces the MCU's latest hero with an origin story that makes effective use of the franchise's signature formula." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 64 out of 100 based on 56 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". According to The New York Times, the film's overall reception was "fairly positive", but it wasn't as well-received as other films in the MCU. The Hindustan Times, collating multiple reviews of the film, noted praise for Brie Larson's performance but also criticism for the film's "convoluted plot and lack of originality".
Audience response / controversy
In late December 2018, the film was named as the most anticipated 2019 film by IMDb, the most anticipated new standalone comic book film and the second-most anticipated blockbuster of 2019 according to Fandango, and the second-most anticipated superhero and overall film by Atom Tickets.
Ahead of the film's release, Captain Marvel's "Want to See" score — an audience anticipation poll on Rotten Tomatoes — had fallen to 28%. Reports described the decline as an effort by some to review bomb the film's page with negative comments attacking the film and Larson for their perceived feminism. Rotten Tomatoes changed the "Want to See" feature shortly after, showing only the number of people indicating interest in the film instead of a percentage. The announcement said this was part of a larger redesign of the site, and that the "Want to See" feature would be restored once the film was released. By 8:00 a.m. on opening day in the United States, the film held a 33% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes from more than 58,000 reviews, which was more audience reviews than Avengers: Infinity War had during its entire theatrical run. Analysts attributed the low score and sheer number of reviews to online trolling. Rotten Tomatoes later said a bug was responsible for the high count of reviews, and by 1:00 p.m. the number of counted ratings was down to 7,000 with an audience score of 35%. As of March 20, 2020, the audience score was at 48% based on just over 94,620 ratings.
Audiences of the film polled by CinemaScore gave it an average grade of "A" on a scale of A+ to F, while PostTrak reported that filmgoers gave it an 84% overall positive score and a 73% "definite recommend". 58% said it met their expectations, while 35% said it exceeded them. Unlike Wonder Woman, which was watched by more women than men, Captain Marvel's initial audience was 61% male, according to PostTrak. Discussing these statistics, Deadline Hollywood's Anthony D'Alessandro praised CinemaScore and PostTrak for taking scientific polls that actually identified how the audience was feeling about the film, and criticized the Rotten Tomatoes audience score as an "ancient 1990s means of collecting opinions online" that is influenced by "ugly Internet troll noise".
The Marvels is scheduled to be released on November 11, 2022, with Nia DaCosta directing and Megan McDonnell writing the script. Larson reprises her role, and is joined by Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan / Ms. Marvel and Teyonah Parris as a grown-up Monica Rambeau, both reprising their roles from Disney+ series (the former from Ms. Marvel, the latter from WandaVision). Zawe Ashton appears as the villain.