The highly anticipated Captain Marvel has finally swooped into theatres, pulling in a cosmic first weekend at the box office. The latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings an intergalactic adventure to Earth in an action-packed, ‘90s-nostalgia-filled blockbuster. Casting the MCU’s strongest character wasn’t a job that studio President Kevin Feige took lightly. With great weight riding on the shoulders of the MCU’s first female-led film, a mighty cast was assembled to introduce us to Carol Danvers. From ‘90s cinema legends to franchise-spanning heavyweights, here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know about the Captain Marvel cast.
10 Lee Pace
A graduate of Julliard School’s Drama Division, Lee Pace gave an award-winning breakthrough performance in the 2003 TV-movie, Soldier’s Girl. He became a fan-favorite as Ned in Pushing Daisies before tackling huge franchises. He sent fangirls swooning as Garrett in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 before taking on the role of Thranduil the Elvenking in The Hobbit trilogy. Pace originally auditioned to play Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, but was instead cast as Ronan the Accuser - a role he’s reprising for Captain Marvel.
It’s surprising that a dance-off caused Ronan’s downfall, as Pace is notorious for instigating dance-offs on set. Both Breaking Dawn and Guardians of the Galaxy contain behind the scenes DVD features of Pace encouraging cast and crew to get involved with dance battles.
9 Annette Bening
Annette Bening is a perfect addition to a movie set in the ‘90s, having played some of the most iconic roles from the era. The Shakespearean stage actress made her breakthrough big screen performance in 1990 in the neo-noir The Grifters, earning her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to star alongside some of the biggest stars in Hollywood in a variety of roles. She scored leading parts in Bugsy, The American President, Mars Attacks!, and The Seige. The four-time Academy Award nominee is perhaps best known for American Beauty, one of the most celebrated films of the decade. She has continued to star in a huge variety of films, but Captain Marvel marks the biggest studio project she has been involved in to date.
8 Ben Mendelsohn
Perhaps best known for being a Hollywood bad-guy, Ben Mendelsohn continues his villainous streak in Captain Marvel. It isn’t his first foray into big blockbuster franchises, having played the evil Orson Krennic in Rogue One. It’s not his first time playing a villain in a superhero franchise, either. Mendelson played corrupt businessman, John Daggett, in The Dark Knight Rises, an alternate version of Roland Daggett from Batman: The Animated Series. Playing Talos in Captain Marvel did give him one first: the chance to wear prosthetic make-up for the first time! Having been taken out by Death Star lasers and broken by Bane, catch Captain Marvel in theatres now to see if he can survive unscathed!
7 Lashana Lynch
Starting her career in British television dramas, Lashana Lynch knew she wanted to be in the MCU as soon as she saw Iron Man in 2008. In fact, when visiting the LA during the casting process, she desperately wanted to audition for Black Panther. Busy shooting a series at the time, she sent in a tape, but it wasn’t to be. Determined not to give up, she landed the role of Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel, which she hopes will give her the chance to continue Black Panther’s legacy. Continuing to adapt comics for screen, Lynch will star in FX’s Y, a series based on Brian K Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man.
6 Djimon Hounsou
Djimon Hounsou is apparently giving Josh Brolin a run for his money in trying to appear in as many superhero franchises as possible in a short period of time. Straddling both the MCU and the DCEU, the award-winning actor has not only reprised his role as Korath the Punisher for Captain Marvel, but has also played The Fisherman King in box-office smash, Aquaman, and will be stepping in to play the ancient Wizard, Shazam, in the upcoming Shazam!, covering all of his Captain Marvel bases. It’s not just the live-action hero world he’s part of. Hounsou voices T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel Knights Black Panther animated series.
5 Gemma Chan
After graduating from Oxford University with a law degree, Gemma Chan decided to pursue her love of acting instead. Her first television appearance was on Project Catwalk (the British version of Project Runway), where she made it all the way to the final. Using the money from modeling work, she enrolled herself in drama school, and landed a guest spot in Doctor Who after she completed her course. TV roles began piling in after this first appearance, with Chan going on to star in Sherlock and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. She’s perhaps best known for her leading role in the British sci-fi series, Humans, where she plays a servile synth.
Now, Gemma Chan is breaking onto the big screen, starring in 2018’s Mary Queen of Scots and the phenomenal success that was Crazy Rich Asians. Preparing for her role as Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel brought new, exciting challenges for Chan to help her prepare for an elite-warrior role, including boxing and sniper training.
4 Clark Gregg
Viewers were stunned when fan-favorite, Phil Coulson, died at the hands of Loki in The Avengers. Of course, in comics - and their respective movies - no one stays dead for long. Clark Gregg continues to portray the lovable superhero-fanboy on Marvel’s longest-running TV series, Agents of SHIELD. About to enter its seventh season, Gregg has been part of the MCU family for eleven years, making it his biggest role. Returning to play a younger, inexperienced version of this character in Captain Marvel required peeling back the layers action and drama Coulson has lived through. Gregg has become synonymous with his character, voicing Coulson in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man series, as well as the Lego Marvel video games.
Before entering the MCU, Gregg played numerous guest roles on popular TV shows, including Sex in the City and Will & Grace. He kept busy off-screen too, writing the thriller, What Lies Beneath, as well as adapting Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Choke, for the big screen.
3 Reggie, Rizzo, Gonzo, And Archie
Goose the cat has already become a firm fan-favorite, stealing the spotlight at Captain Marvel’s red carpet events. But Goose was played by four different cats: Reggie, Rizzo, Gonzo, and Archie. They’re no strangers to the silver screen. You might recognize Reggie and Archie from Minnie’s haberdashery in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. While all the cats took their turn performing in Captain Marvel, Samuel L Jackson claimed that Reggie was a “jack of all trades,” forming a firm friendship with him, despite not being a cat person. The most experienced of the four cats, Reggie has become the official poster-kitty for the film, and all CGI work in the movie was based on his likeness.
2 Samuel L Jackson
Having appeared in more than 100 movies, becoming the all-time highest box office star, the King of Cool needs no introduction. Samuel L Jackson has starred in a huge range of movies, from adventurous independents to smash-hit blockbusters, acting simply for the love of acting. Outside of the MCU, he’s perhaps best known for frequent collaborations with Quentin Tarantino and his love of cursing. He also holds the cool accolade of having been eaten by both a dinosaur and a shark throughout his movie career.
When Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch were creating Marvel Comics’ The Ultimates in 2002, they made the bold decision to make Nick Fury look remarkably like Samuel L Jackson - without his permission - with Millar declaring that Jackson “is famously the coolest man alive.” It made perfect sense to cast Jackson as the character he had inspired. He’s now played Fury onscreen for eleven years, and Captain Marvel has given him the opportunity to explore a new side to the (much younger version of the) character.
1 Brie Larson
No stranger to the silver screen, Brie Larson started studying drama at the age of six! With a life-long love of acting, she became the youngest student ever to attend the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and starred in three productions before she finished middle school.
A highly acclaimed actress, her breakthrough role is considered to be the excellent indie-drama, Short Term 12. She isn’t new to comic book adaptations, starring in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World as heart-breaker and singer, Envy Adams. She’s familiar with huge blockbusters, too, appearing in Kong: Skull Island, where she bonded with Samuel L Jackson. Reunited for Captain Marvel, the pair have become close friends.
Larson’s perhaps best known for her celebrated role in Room, where her incredible performance as Ma was highly praised. Cleaning up during awards season, she is one of just fourteen actresses who has won a BAFTA, SAG Award, Golden Globe, Academy Award, and the Critics’ Choice Award for the same performance.
She also keeps busy behind the camera, showing off her skills as a filmmaker. She has co-written and co-directed two short films, one of which (The Arm) won a special jury prize at 2012's Sundance Film Festival. She made her directorial debut on a feature film in 2017 with the comedy-drama, Unicorn Store.
Plenty of hard work has led Larson to the coveted role of Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. Her determination to do the role justice led to nine months of intensive workouts which allowed her to carry out most of her own stunts—not to mention pushing a jeep! She also had the opportunity to train with the women at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, flying in an F16 and simulating dogfights. Her determination to go higher, further, faster makes her brilliant casting for the ambitious Danvers.