How Brie Larson Channels Captain Marvel Even When the Cameras Are Off

Brie Larson, star of the first female superhero movie Captain Marvel, talks to us about newfound mega-fame, what it means to be a feminist superhero, and the joys of an all-female writing staff.

It’s officially holiday season, and on Tuesday Marvel gave us an awesome present: The second trailer for the much-anticipated upcoming Captain MarvelBrie Larson is our title hero, and in this clip we get some serious new backstory: Captain Marvel (a.k.a. Carol Danvers), we discover, is from a race of “warrior heroes,” but she still has questions about who she is and where she came from. And of course, we see Larson kicking ass (including, um, a little old lady’s) and absolutely slaying as an Air Force pilot. Basically, the trailer confirms that Captain Marvel will be the badass female hero we were hoping for.

That Larson rose to the challenge of starring in the first woman-led Marvel superhero movie isn’t surprising. She’s a champion for women’s causes, even when she’s not starring in major superhero movies. Larson is an advocate for the #TimesUp movement and has spoken about how she’s striving to achieve gender wage parity and inclusion in Hollywood at all levels, whether in front of the camera or behind it. She even fights for women in how movies are covered: During an acceptance speech she gave earlier this year at the Women in Film 2018 Crystal + Lucy Awards, Larson spoke out about the lack of representation in film criticism and film coverage, especially where women and people of color are concerned.

“Please make sure that these invites and credentials find their way to more under-represented journalists and critics, many of whom are freelancers,” she said—which is partially how Marie Claire ended up getting to go on location and interview her on-set.

We sat down with Larson (!) to talk about how she became Captain Marvel, what representation actually looks like when it comes to the film industry, and how she got into the fighting spirit to play Carol Danvers. Check out the new trailer, above, and then read on for what she has to say.

On how she found out she’d be starring in her own superhero movie

“I had a meeting with Marvel, and what we sort of discussed was they wanted to make a big, feminist movie. I remember going home and being like, Shit, am I gonna do this?! It’s kind of everything that I’ve wanted.

"You know, I don’t do movies based upon any hidden agenda other than I just want more representation and I want to do what I can to bring more representation, and to see more colors of what it’s like. I know my limitations and I know that I’m just one white girl. I’m just trying to do as much as I can within that.

"As I’ve grown, I’ve noticed that movies—and Marvel movies in particular—have so much meaning in them. You can have a great time and just enjoy them, but you can also be left with some really deep philosophical questions, and that combo is really powerful. The idea that we could make something that was thought-provoking and entertaining, that was gonna be seen all over the world, is a crazy one. And to have to think about your participation in that, and think about what that will do to your life and to your family and to your friends—I still don’t know how it’ll change, but the opportunity came and I feel like I’ve got to take the call in the same way she had to take the call.”

On why Captain Marvel feels so revolutionary for superhero movies

“I love that she’s unapologetic, that she’s not apologizing for her strength. First as just a human in the Air Force, she’s never trying to shrink herself because of who she is and she couldn’t even be somebody else if she wanted to. The fact that she’s just herself and cannot be contained is pretty awesome. It means that she’s wild. That’s part of what I love.”

On being active on social media while also leading a major film

“It’s really important to me that I stay a person, and that means I’m gonna make mistakes. I think one thing about social media that I’ve struggled with is the idea of making a mistake and then it being sort of like, You’re canceled and that’s it. Some people need to be canceled, but some people maybe said something and want to learn from it. I’m hoping that social media can become more of what public discourse used to be, which was having conversations and sort of getting to something together.

"It’s definitely scary to think of people paying attention to me. I’m not gonna act super-strong when I’ve been kind of freaking out seeing how quickly my numbers on Instagram have been going up since Avengers: Infinity War came out. It’s a weird feeling when it seems like people on the outside kind of view you differently, when I still feel the same. My hope is to continue to be clever about this and to continue to show myself and to learn. I just want to learn, you know? And I hope others on social media will teach me.”

On the joys of working with a female crew

“The cool thing about this script is that it was all written by women, and I didn’t realize how vital that is until I read it for the first time and realized little things that made me go, Oh.

"I’ve struggled my whole life, in particular because I’m an actor, of always being in relation to something or somebody else, always through somebody else’s lens. The beauty of this film is that there have been so many women involved in the making of it that I don’t feel like I’ve had to fight as much, ‘cause I felt understood from the beginning. That’s just a wonderful thing that Marvel understood innately. I think that they knew that before even something like Black Panther—that if you’re gonna tell this story, you’ve got to make sure that [its message] is embedded in everything. It’s not good enough to just make it be me. It has to be in the script. It has to be in the direction. It has to be in the wardrobe. It has to be in every part of it, so it speaks to us. I’m sure there are movies for guys where they’re like, Whoa, that’s so true to my experience. We’ve never had that.”

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Yolanda Machado

Yolanda Machado is a Los Angeles based award winning blogger (SassyMamainLA), critic and freelance entertainment journalist with bylines at Broadly, Moviefone, Remezcla and more. She is a Latina mother of one daughter, and has an obsession for pop culture and Broadway musicals.