Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Rob Hunter finds a female superhero in Captain Marvel.
Marvel’s Captain Marvel has been a long-time coming in a lot of ways, and now that it’s here there’s no going back. The film made over $1 billion in global box-office, the character is guaranteed to be a major part of the MCU and the Avengers going forward. The movie’s new to Blu-ray and packed with special features including featurettes, deleted scenes, and more. So of course we gave a listen to the filmmakers’ commentary track.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary for…
Captain Marvel (2019)
Commentators: Anna Boden (co-director, co-writer), Ryan Fleck (co-director, co-writer)
1. Stan Lee passed away while they were editing the film — “We were all really bummed out by that.” — and the folks at Marvel put together the special opening logo to honor him.
2. The entire purpose of the opening dream imagery was to set up the mystery involving Vers’ aka Carol Danvers’ aka Captain Marvel’s (Brie Larson) past and her connection with Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening).
3. Vers is chastised for using her pulse blast during a martial arts fight, and while it seems perfectly reasonable to help teach someone how to control their power and to know when to use it, it’s meant as a negative here when Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) does it. It’s a complicated idea — the big reveal later on shows that the Kree are trying to limit her meaning this attempt at control is a bad thing, but the idea in general remains a responsible one that we teach to our kids every day.
4. The Star Force team includes Algenis Perez Soto as Att-lass, and he worked with them previously on their film Sugar (2008).
5. They initially debated introducing Ronan (Lee Pace) as head of the Accuser assault ships during the attack on Torfa, but they eventually decided it would have more impact holding him until later. It also would have given away the Kree’s true identity as the villains too soon.
6. They used real-world animal biology — particularly octopus videos — as reference for the look of the Skrull transformations.
7. The hangar door shot at 14:10 was originally the opening shot of the film in an earlier draft of the script.
8. The memory shot of the Skrull approaching the camera at 17:35 shifts very briefly to a more humanoid form to tease the later reveal that the person in that memory is actually Yon-Rogg.
9. Vers’ scream back at the growling Skrull at 20:31 was devised on set. They loved the idea of small pieces of her humanity crack through even before she realizes she’s a human.
10. Fleck worked at Blockbuster Video in 1995.
11. The strip-mall security guard is played by Barry Curtis who is actually head of Marvel Studios security.
12. The special key that Vers pulls from her suit to connect with 1990s tech and communicate back home is later a part of the pager that she gives to Nick Fury (Samuel L.Jackson).
13. The older lady’s stunt double during the train fight is Heidi Moneymaker. Larson’s stunt double is Renae Moneymaker. “So there’s two sisters that are fighting each other for a lot of this sequence.”
14. The wide shot at 36:13 was pulled directly from the “Secret Invasion” comic run.
15. Jackson improvised checking out the Skrull’s junk beneath the sheet.
16. Goose, a female cat, is played a male cat named Reggie. “Apparently trainers don’t really train female cats. I don’t know if it’s a sexist thing all the way in the ranks of animal training…”
17. They discussed various options as to how Fury would realize that Keller (Ben Mendelsohn) was actually a Skrull named Talos before settling on the man referring to him as Nicolas. Boden’s favorite had Fury point out to Keller that his shoe was untied and then have Keller wholly unaware as to how to tie it.
18. Fury saying “My bad” to Vers’ disappointment that he called the agency about her earned a huge laugh in their first test screening, but then it never happened again at later ones. THey’re not sure why.
19. Most of the quad jet is vfx, but the front/cockpit is a practical piece that they had to share with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
20. Some have interpreted Talos drinking the milkshake as a nod to Pulp Fiction (1994), but it’s actually a reference to Reservoir Dogs (1992).
21. They made a point in the blocking and visual fx to ensure that the exploding photon power source blasts specifically toward Carol so there was no question as to why Yon-Rogg didn’t gain powers.
22. The debated which was more 90s — “fresh” or “dope” — and finally decided they were equally correct and then went with “fresh.”
23. Boden thinks crickets and cicadas are the same thing, and Fleck isn’t confident enough to correct her so he calls for a fact checker. Later she mentions shooting in a Louisiana shed that was home to wasps “that don’t sting.” I guess what I’m saying is it’s good that they landed this gig instead of Spider-Man.
24. “We went through so many songs that we experimented with for this sequence,” says Fleck about the fight scene they eventually scored with No Doubt’s “Just a Girl.” They looked at tracks from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but they finally decided to go with the obvious choice.
25. The final fight with Yon-Rogg was originally scripted as a brawl that Carol wins, but through production they came to realize she should no longer be playing by his rules.
26. Movies listed as references include Gimme Shelter (1970), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), The French Connection (1971), The Conversation (1974), The Godfather (1972), Star Wars (1977), and Top Gun (1986).
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“We called him Ben Mendelskrull when he was in his prosthetics.”
“Gemma Chan. Hilarious.”
“We just thought from the very beginning that it would be very funny to have a superhero trying to deal with a big map.”
“This movie aged me.”
“It seemed pretty clear that when we had a flurkin in the movie it was going to be responsible for taking Nick Fury’s eye out.”
Boden and Fleck have a clear affection for Larson, but they also have plenty of accolades for the rest of the cast and crew behind Captain Marvel. It’s a surprisingly light commentary, though, despite there being two of them. We get a few silent gaps, they repeat themselves, and they sign off almost immediately after the end credits start. Fleck even teases three connections regarding elements in the film but refuses to offer any details. They’re not MCU secrets, they’re small Easter egg-like observations! We do get some anecdotes in addition to the accolades, but that’s pretty much it resulting in a perfectly okay commentary.
Read more Commentary Commentary from the archives.