CS Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Mary Livanos on Captain Marvel
Captain MarvelĀ is now out on digital platforms and on Blu-ray,Ā 4K Ultra HD and DVD. Last month ComingSoon.net got the chance to attend the espnW Summit in NYC and speak with Captain Marvel comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick as well as Marvel Studiosā Mary Livanos about the film and its impact! Check out the interview below, and get your copy of the filmĀ by clicking here!
Captain MarvelĀ follows Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she becomes one of the universeās most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Set more than a decade prior to the events in 2008āsĀ Iron Man, Captain Marvel is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The film also starred Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Algenis Perez Soto, Rune Temte, McKenna Grace, with Annette Bening, and Jude Law. Reprising their roles from MarvelāsĀ GuardiansĀ ofĀ theĀ GalaxyĀ areĀ Djimon Hounsou and Lee Pace, and returning once again to a Marvel Studios film will be Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson.
Marvel StudiosāĀ Captain MarvelĀ is directed by the writing/directing team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whose credits includeĀ MississippiĀ GrindĀ andĀ HalfĀ Nelson. An all-star collective of accomplished writers penned the screenplay, including Meg LeFauve (Inside Out), Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy), Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Tomb Raider), Liz Flahive & Carly Mensch (GLOW) and Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck.
ComingSoon.net: You were with the movie for a long time through development.
Mary Livanos: Yes, pre-development, pre-production, all the way up until the movie was shot, and then I hopped off for a different project.
CS: What would you say was the most distinctive aspect of the story or the character that changed from the beginning of development to the final product?
Livanos: Oh thatās interesting. What inherently had to change over and over again because there was a lot of logic to be sorted out, where she falls within the Marvel cinematic universe, when the movie should take place. The decision to place it in the 90ās stemmed from everyoneās love of that era and not having seen the 90ās represented on screen and in our cinematic universe thus far. But also, wanting to carve out a space for Carol of her own in the MCU, and having her add to the canon of the MCU in an unexpected way.
CS: In her movie Carol is a fish out of water similar to the way Thor was in his first movie. But of course, by the third āThorā film it was mostly cosmic craziness. Do you think that the character would be more in her element in a story told entirely off-Earth?
Livanos: Iām fascinated with both sides of Carol. I cannot get enough of her in her Air Force persona. I canāt get enough of Carol on Earth as a fighter pilot. I think that whole part of her life is completely fascinating. But also, what sheās doing in the cosmic arena is an unknown, so exploring that is also awesome. Iām a fan of both.
Kelly Sue DeConnick: Yeah, and I am as well. Iāve written both and enjoy both, and I think I had a wonderful experience writing Carol in her apartment building in New York City, and invested a lot in her supporting cast. Then I was actually kind of mad when I had to take Carol into space. It was like, ābut I just made all theseā¦ā but okay. And then, ended up having a wonderful experience writing her cosmic adventures as well. I think that was one of the beauties of the character, was that there was this flexibility.
Livanos: And the sacrifice of having to be away from Earth in order to fill the duties in the cosmic arena isā¦
DeConnick: Yeah, but itās also such an adventure for her. Like that scene with Rhodey that I got to write.
Livanos: Because how could Carol say no?
DeConnick:Ā I have the chance to do this thing, you know, and I canāt not do that thing. Iāve got to do the thing, you know?
CS: When you were watching the movie, were there any scenes that really stuck out involving Carol where you were like, āAh, I wish Iād written that!ā or āI wish Iād come up with that!ā
DeConnick: Oh no. My ego is enormous. I was like, āOh, thatās mine, thatās mine.ā No. No, thatās not true. I actually think the structure of the film is very smart. I donāt think I wouldāve come up with that and that pisses me off a little bit, but in a loving and supportive kind of way.
CS: The thing I loved about the structure was if you told the movie linearly it would basically just be a remake of āGreen Lanternā with a woman.Ā
DeConnick: And that did so well.
DeConnick: So really, no wait, hold on. Wait. Got an idea. Giant disaster, but with a lady. Donāt do that. Itās a bad idea. They both have cores. Have you noticed that?
Livanos: Yeah.Ā And also cats.
CS: But adding that sort of āMementoā aspect to it, where sheās reverse engineering her own origin really made it its own thing.Ā
Livanos: No, it was very, very smart.
DeConnick: And inspired by āThe Enemy Within.āĀ Geneva needs to get a ton of credit for that. Sheās an incredibly talented, very bright woman. She did a great job.
CS: The whole āCaptain Marvelā movie was a story of Carol finding out her full potential and who she is and her powers, but we didnāt get to spend a lot of time with the fully-realized Captain Marvel. When we get to āEndgameā thatās not really her story. Sheās used like the eagles in āLord of the Rings.ā Whenever theyāre in a really big jam, she swoops in. Moving forward, what aspects of Carol as a person do you hope to see explored in the films?
DeConnick: She is not allowed to answer that. I will answer that because I donāt know what the hell Iām talking about.
DeConnick:Ā Carol has this really lovely thing that we donāt get to see in women very often, where sheās both wildly overconfident and wildly under-confident. I need a version of this that doesnāt have profanity in it, but my friend Maggie Estep used to use this phrase, āThe piece of crap at the center of the universe.ā She didnāt say crap. But I think that there are people who have that thing where itās like both low and high self-esteem in the same package. And I think Carolās got a little bit of that going on. Sheās very quick tempered. Sheās got a lot of hubris. She thinks she knows whatās going on. So often she doesnāt, but she also has this amazing ability to be wrong and get back up and try again and not have pride in it in a way that holds her back. I love that about her. Thatās interesting and nuanced and not a thing we get to see in women very often.Ā Portrayals of women in our culture is justā¦ thereās like seven, you know? And men are as varied as their numbers and women, you know, we get spots in boxes. Carol doesnāt really fit in any slot or box. Iāve seen her in real life. I know lots of people like her in real life. I feel like her sometimes. But to see that person on screen is so interesting and refreshing and itās great. Sheās neither perfect nor a mess, you know? Sheās somewhere in the middle of that, and thatās where most of us fall.
CS: Iām an editor of a movie site, so I was very privy to all the misogynistic stuff that was written, even before people had seen the movie. It was a lot of garbage, but I also got to see some really wonderful reactions. One woman tweeted right after she saw the film, āOh, thatās how guys feel after they seen an action movie!ā What reactions to the film touched you the most?
DeConnick: Well, the number of little girls in my line. Iāve only done one convention since the movie came out, but either my audience has just immediately gotten younger, but the number of little girls in the line is exponentially more. When they come through, I always ask them if theyāve seen the movie and they of course always have. And then, I ask them what their favorite part is. And thereās a lot of Flerken love, which I appreciate. So itās not 100 percent, but a remarkable number of them can point to the moment when she says, āI have nothing to prove to you.ā And I can ask if they can tell me why itās their favorite moment. The fact that young girls can articulate that is both incredibly empowering and also a little bit heartbreaking. They already recognize that there are people who would limit them. But if they can recognize it now, if they can see it, maybe they can avoid it, you know? In my generation we were trained to pretend it wasnāt there or it was somehow our fault.
Livanos:Ā For myself I was a little girl running around in a Pink Ranger outfit, so to see little girls in Captain Marvel costumes, thereās something about seeing representation on screen that reminds you of yourself, that gives you permission to dream huge.
DeConnick: Every little girl flies.
Livanos: Exactly. Thatās the coolest part is what it must unlock in their imaginations to me.
CS: One point of criticism towards the character -which we also heard with Rey from Star Wars- was that sheās overpowered. But you could say that about Superman. You could say that about Thor. You can say that about Neo in āThe Matrix.ā You could say that about a lot of male characters. The solution to that problem in movies -to raise the stakes and to make the character more relatable- has generally been to strip away the characterās power. James Mangold did it twice in a row with Wolverine. How do you think you can maintain relatability and stakes without stripping her of these amazing powers she has?
Livanos: Well, what was really cool about taking the Kree Skull War and putting that on screen is that no amount of firepower can just solve an intergalactic political mutiny overnight. You have to attack your problems in different ways, and you have to expand your perspective to get the full picture of a situation that you canāt punch your way out of.
DeConnick: Right, yeah. Higher, faster, further. The whole point of that storyline was to take on the idea of the white savior, and to give Carol a problem she couldnāt punch. As a writing problem, there are a lot of ways around it. There are a lot of ways that itās been done very successfully. And with Carol, I think itās something very interesting about the fact that thereās that line about āsheās a kettle on a hot stove,ā right? The energy it takes her to contain her power is a thing, right? So I donāt know. I mean, I always wonder when people talk about Superman being hard to write, Iām like, āyouāre wrong.ā Iām sorry. Youāre just wrong.
CS: Yeah, I donāt think itās that itās hard, I think a lot of the people that have been involved in those films have not thought outside the box enough. Hopefully weāll get to see that explored more with Carol.
DeConnick: Yeah, and weāre always balancing the powers and wish fulfillment with their humanity, right? So none of these powers inoculate them from pain. None of these powers inoculate them from heartbreak. None of these powers inoculate them from self-doubt. Those are the things that, as human beings, we look at and understand and recognize ourselves. And then, ultimately, what we hope to find in this genre is hope, that these super powers are metaphors for our own gifts, and that if we all come together with the best of our abilities, weāll overcome those things that challenge us.
CS Interview: Kelly Sue DeConnick & Mary Livanos on Captain Marvel