I’ve been a Captain Marvel fan for a long time. Somehow, she and Hawkeye managed to sneak past the strict walls that kept my teenage fandom contained within the X-Mansion. I was excited when “Ms. Marvel” #1 hit the nearly a decade ago, and I’ve been near ecstatic about her recent adventures as Captain Marvel. So duh, I get excited every time someone with even the slightest bit of authority over the Marvel Cinematic Universe whispers the name “Carol Danvers.” When Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige said that they’ve all talked about Captain Marvel “a lot” and that he thinks a Carol film would be “very cool,” my brain soars just thinking about the possibilities.
But before I get to those possibilities, I have to quickly address the other half of Kevin Feige’s quote, the one where he suddenly seems lukewarm on the idea of a Black Widow movie.
“Frankly, if we do a Black Widow movie after ‘Age of Ultron,’ when she’s been central in three or four movies I don’t think we’d get the quote unquote credit for it,” Feige recently said to Badass Digest. “People would say ‘She’s already a big giant superhero!’ But if we had a great idea, we’d do it.” This sounds like a total shift from what he said just last month: “The notion of exploring [Black Widow’s backstory] even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that.”
With two quotes of opposing meanings are presented this close to each other, I’m inclined to believe the one I like — if only to keep the extreme Black Widow fan in me from flipping out. I’m trying to be a more positive comic book fan, y’all! It’s Marvel’s job to be misleading and coy about everything right up until they make an official announcement. These opposing answers prove that. These speculation-y sound bites exist to keep the character’s name in headlines. It gets us talking. But here’s the most important thing: a Captain Marvel movie should not negate a Black Widow movie, just like “Ant-Man” isn’t having an adverse effect on the possibility of “Doctor Strange.” You can make multiple female-driven super hero movies at once if you believe in both projects, and putting the women in a competition for a token movie slot when the same isn’t done for the male heroes is just ridiculous.
So, that’s outta the way!
I spend a lot of time speculating about comic book movies, and I’ve somehow managed to turn that incredibly specific “skill” into a job. That’s cool, because I’ve yet to be able to derail that train of thought every time I watch anything. Lupita Nyong’o and Robin Wright need to play Storm and Emma Frost in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” and I will be enraged if Rich Sommer plays Foggy Nelson in Netflix’s “Daredevil.” So yes, I’ve put a lot of thought into “Captain Marvel,” because speculating is as entertaining as watching the movies!
Katee Sackhoff has long been the fan choice for Carol Danvers, and it’s easy to understand why. She has all the charisma of ’80s Harrison Ford and owns every action role she’s given. But, and here’s where I might get controversial, I have to consider a few more actresses. Jessica Chastain would absolutely kill it as Carol Danvers, and anyone who’s seen “Zero Dark Thirty” would have to agree. Similarly, I think that casting Charlize Theron as Captain Marvel would be a genius casting move on the level of casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.
But Katee Sackhoff as Captain Marvel feels too much like a fan choice and not enough like a Marvel Studios choice. It’s similar to how fans have placed Nathan Fillion in speculative casting lists for pretty much role out there, just because he’s Nathan Fillion and he’s awesome. I don’t think fans would have ever cast Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, or Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner; Marvel chose critically acclaimed actors for those parts. They’ve stacked “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” with Oscar-bait actors, too. Robert Redford, Benicio Del Toro, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Djimon Hounsou — Marvel seems to value legit acting chops over fan pedigree. Both Chastain and Theron have that pedigree, and the latter has an Oscar on her shelf/nightstand/fridge/I don’t know where she keeps it. No, Theron hasn’t been able to launch a big-budget action movie on her own, but she has a name that most everyone in America recognizes. That sounds a lot like Robert Downey Jr. when he was cast in “Iron Man,” doesn’t it?
I also favor Chastain and Theron because of my choices for director. A lot of people think “Iron Man 3” worked as well as it did because it paired RDJ with the director partly responsible for rebooting his career in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” — Shane Black. Both Chastain and Theron have worked with directors that could nail “Captain Marvel.” As the first and only woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director, Kathryn Bigelow is easily my first choice for director. A “Captain Marvel” movie should be heavy on military intrigue, and the film should look as tough and determined as Carol. “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty” director could make that happen better than any other director around.
If Marvel went with Theron, then director Patty Jenkins gets the edge. Jenkins worked with Theron on the 2003 crime drama film “Monster,” which earned Theron her Oscar. Marvel also tapped Jenkins to direct “Thor: The Dark World,” but she parted ways with the project citing creative differences. The reporting at the time painted the split as amicable and said that she could still direct a Marvel feature in the future — specifically one that would allow her to make her mark with a new character. “Captain Marvel” sounds perfect.
Jenkins could take a crack at the screenplay, an idea Marvel might be willing to explore now that they’ve started working with writer/directors like Joss Whedon, Shane Black, and James Gunn. I also wouldn’t mind them hiring someone like Brad Bird — or really, just Brad Bird — to write and direct the film. If Marvel wants to take Carol to the stars and really up the super hero angle, then I can’t think of a better choice than the guy who made “The Incredibles” and was an early favorite to direct “Star Wars: Episode VII.” I could definitely see Katee Sackhoff in a Brad Bird film, going back to her “Battlestar Galactica” roots by flying through space and punching aliens in the face.
Whoever they get to write the screenplay, though, it’s imperative that Kelly Sue DeConnick be on hand to consult. Comic book writers have been brought on to offer insight in the past, although the practice seems to have fallen out of favor as Marvel’s confidence and success has risen. That practice needs to be implemented again as soon “Captain Marvel” gets the official go-ahead, and Kelly Sue needs to be on speed dial. As the writer of Carol’s monthly adventures, there is no comic book professional with a better grasp on who she is and what she means. Her run has connected with a passionate fanbase in a way that few comic book characters ever have, and if Marvel can extrapolate the fierce fan love DeConnick has cultivated from the relatively small comic book community to the much larger movie-going audience, then they could have a “Hunger Games”-level hit on their hands.
DeConnick’s recently-released “Captain Marvel” #1 even includes one new addition to Carol’s canon that I desperately want to see in a Captain Marvel film. DeConnick smartly paired Captain Marvel up with James “Iron Patriot” Rhodes in the latest issue, igniting a new romance so natural that it feels like it should have been around decades ago. Now, I’m not suggesting that Carol’s initial super hero outing needs to be focused primarily on her love life; I’m just suggesting that I really really want to see Don Cheadle’s sarcastic everyman interpretation of Rhodey on the big screen one more time. But you know what? Carol should get as much of a love story as Tony Stark did in the first “Iron Man” film. If that means Rhodey plays a strong supporting role that turns from platonic to slightly romantic by the end of the film, then that’s great.
I think “Captain Marvel” could also benefit from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” should that film be a hit. Carol’s origin is tightly intertwined with the Kree, a race of aliens that factor heavily into “Guardians.” That means that Carol’s alien-heavy origin will have a precedent in the MCU, and it’s a precedent that would most likely pique the interest of the movie fans that see Chris Pratt and company smirk it up on the big screen.
So that’s a lot of moving parts I just wrote on and on about. Now let’s boil down all the speculation into one definitive pitch. I want a “Captain Marvel” movie starring Jessica Chastain, directed by Kathryn Bigelow with a screenplay by her frequent collaborator Mark Boal. It will feature Carol Danvers as a colonel in the United States Air Force who uncovers evidence of a covert Kree coup of Earth’s military operations and gains mysterious alien powers from doing so. When the USAF ignores her evidence, she must work together with her only ally, Colonel James Rhodes, to expose corruption and stop the ruthless alien Yon-Rogg.
And the name of the film is “Captain Marvel.” No exceptions.
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts the podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics and is a writer for the comedy podcast Left Handed Radio. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).