Jonathan Schwartz Interview: Captain Marvel Set Visit


Captain Marvel executive producer Jonathan Schwartz is an in-house success story for Marvel Studios. Schwartz has been with the studio for 9 years, cutting his teeth as an assistant to Kevin Feige on Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor and Captain America (2011) before beginning to climb the ladder. In 2014, Schwartz co-produced James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy and then, in 2017, made the jump to executive producer on the sequel, putting him in exclusive company as one of the members of Feige’s brain trust.

Schwartz’s experiences on the Guardians of the Galaxy films make him a bit of an expert on the cosmic corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so having him oversee the development of Captain Marvel assures some degree of continuity is established as they continue to expand on the existing mythology while also weaving new elements into the cosmic tapestry. Having someone on board who has already been a part of detailed discussions about the studio’s plans for the cosmic characters was certainly a benefit to the production of Captain Marvel.

In an interview with Screen Rant, Schwartz talked about setting Carol Danvers’ origin story against the backdrop of an intergalactic war, gave some key insights into the Kree Starforce of which Carol is a member, and detailed what sort of stakes could possibly matter for the most powerful member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Jonathan Schwartz: …A little bit about how this movie is different structurally from our other origin stories, which is something we were consciously trying to execute. The movie starts with the Captain Marvel character already in outer space, already having superpowers and already fighting on the side of the Kree in the Kree Skrull war. You get a glimpse of her squad there, star force, led by the Jude Law character. Very quickly along this journey they get dispatched on a mission to an alien planet to fight the skrulls and over the course of that mission, Brie Larson’s character is captured by the Skrulls and then over the course of that adventure she finds herself on Earth, crashing through the roof of a Blockbuster video because it’s the Nineties. And that puts her in contact with the younger, two eyed version of Agent Fury and the two of them together have to stop the skrull plot on Earth. And at the same time get to the root of Carol’s past. So that’s the bones of the movie. I’m sure you have a lot of questions.

What’s the difference between the green and red costumes?

Jonathan Schwartz: It’s not a spoiler to tell you the blue, gold and red costume is going to be in the movie. The green costume is more of the Kree colors, Kree star force colors, but over the course of the movie that costume will go through at bit of a change.

Is there a plot reason?

Jonathan Schwartz: There definitely will be.

SHOWS FOOTAGE

What can we expect as far whats set in space versus Earth?

Jonathan Schwartz: In terms of Earth versus Space. It’s more or less 50 50. The movie starts in space gets to Earth relatively quickly and it goes back to space for kind of some of the third act. So it’s kind of space Earth space. There is a big Earth plot that ends up tying into a lot of our more cosmic goings on.

Are the scenes at the Air Force base before she gets into space?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes. So that’s kind of Carol’s past as an Air Force pilot which takes place before she starts fighting for the Kree and before she gets into outer space.

But that’s act two of the movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, I mean it comes after the space stuff. You know one of the challenges with subverting that Origin structure is you’ve still got to find a way to let the audience understand who that character is and there are some creative ways over the course of this movie where we’re able to get that part of Carol’s story across.

Is it linear?

Jonathan Schwartz: It is and it isn’t. I don’t want to get into that too much because there’s a few cool surprises along the way. But yes and no. Sorry.

Obviously setting in the ’90s answers the question where she’s been the whole time. When did that decision get made and how did the decision get made of setting the movie before Iron Man 1.

Jonathan Schwartz: Funny, really honest, I don’t know exactly when. Very early in the development process I think we kind of seized on the idea of setting in the 90s as a way to kind of let the character carve out her own space in the cinematic universe and give her a lot of thematic weight and significance to the universe. It’s more or less this adventure that’s going to inspire a lot of what we see in MCU and kind of being able to see those things in this movie that blossom in other movies and already have blossomed in other movies is one of the big excitements. And then also just the idea of the 90s as a period which is something I don’t think we’ve been able to explore a lot of, it’s far enough in the rearview mirror that it was ‘Oh yeah, the 90s. I have memories of that era.’ But I haven’t seen it represented a lot on film. So being able to play in that sandbox is exciting and do things like recreate a blockbuster which was super fun to walk through and made me miss physical media in a way I didn’t expect.

Will the questions surrounding the beeper at the end of Infinity War, like why did Nick Fury use it then, where has she been, etc, be answered here or later?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think it’s a combination of things. I think we will. Understand over the course of these movies why Fury makes the decisions that he does. He’s always a mysterious guy and he always has his own reasons but hopefully we can clarify some of that for the audience.

Was there anything in the comic source material that was essential to this movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, you know, there’s a run of comics by Kelly Sue DeConnick that really gets to the core of the character in a way that we thought really made us want to translate it to the screen. She really understood Carol and really made her modern and vibrant and cool in a way that she wasn’t always written as. Sorry. That wasn’t the great quote of all time. And a lot of great artists working with Kelly at that time. Dexter Soy is great and Jamie McKelvie was amazing and it just sort of represented a vision of the character that we thought would translate to screen really easily. And Kelly’s actually been working with us on the movie and has been very helpful and consulted with us and shot a cameo the other day which hopefully you guys can all pick out. But she kind of had a vision for Caroll that leaned into her Air Force roots in a really cool way and leaned into the power of a character in the inspirational nature kind of at the core of Carol that we thought was super cool.

Are there specific issues we should look at?

Jonathan Schwartz: Everything Kelly Sue did was great. Some of that’s based on Earth some of that’s based in space. It’s all amazing. I’d say it’s much more useful as reference for the character than for plot specifics which isn’t uncommon in these movies. Sometimes We go and say we’re going to make a movie about Civil War even though that’s a little bit of an adaptation of that that storyline as well. Sometimes it’s this group of characters called the Guardians of Galaxy seems cool let’s put them on their adventure and sometimes it’s this is what’s cool about this character, there’s this issue, this issue, this issue and that all kind of becomes the grist for the mill filmmaking.

What percentage of this is a Nick Fury origin story?

Jonathan Schwartz: There’s a Nick Fury origin story in there. The movie is definitely called Captain Marvel. It becomes a two hander for parts of it. So. We sort of wanted to give the audience that kind of young Nick Fury origin story as you put it and it’s all there. Hopefully in a way that compliments Carol’s adventure too.

Can you talk about her specific powers as compared to what we saw in the comics.

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes. By The end of this movie we’ll have seen the full run of power’s out of Carol. So that’s flight and strength and photon blasts. You know I think part of what made us excited about the character was that she was such a powerful character in the comic books and one of the most if not the most powerful character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and seeing all that brought to bear is one of the big pleasures of the movie.

Will we see the binary part of Carol?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes. For sure. And also one of the things we love from the comics was that mohawk look that pops up in that run a little bit.

Not even the mohawk, I meant the dots.

Jonathan Schwartz: Oh, yeah. She had a little tracking markers. Yeah there will be some some visual effects there.

Marvel loves to make their stories different genres. What genre is this besides a period film?

Jonathan Schwartz: It feels weird calling it a genre but the genres is ’90s action movie. Like if you think about movies like Robocop or Total Recall or Terminator 2 or Independence Day I think there are common action movie threads you can tease through those movies which are what we’re trying to pick up on in this movie.

You mention blockbusters, are there more ’90s nostalgia things?

Jonathan Schwartz: I’m hoping we can find some ’90s music to pepper in [I saw a NIN shirt] Yeah the Nine Inch Nails shirt was a cool one. I don’t know if you guys saw the Rock the Vote posters but they’re up there. Part of the fun of the movie is finding those little touches that we can tickle the nostalgia bone with.

Will it have more of a soundtrack than a score?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think it’s going to be a mix of both. I don’t think it’s going to be an awesome mix CD number one but I think it will be fun to try to find those moments where the ’90s music sets off. [I have a request for Janet Jackson] Yep if anyone has requests. This page just has spin doctors all the way down.

What can you tell us about Ben Mendelsohn’s character?

Jonathan Schwartz: Ben kind of plays the face of the Skrulls the leader of the Skrulls and that’s that’s Talos. Over the course of the movie he’ll shapeshift a little bit so we’ll get to see him in human form as he saw that sizzle. I think it’s sort of fun to show off both the Skrulls powers and Ben’s range as an actor because he’s very different in all of those parts. It’s been super fun to watch.

When we hear Skrulls we think Secret Invasion. Has that been on your mind or been discussed? Because I feel like after seeing this movie I’m going to be like every character in the MCU and be like that’s a Skrull?

Jonathan Schwartz: That’s cool right? Yes we talked about Secret Invasion. I wouldn’t go into this movie saying ‘Which one of these superheroes is a Skrull?” Because Carol’s is more or less the first superhero to show up on Earth. But are we planting seeds for future movies? Always.

Do you you play with paranoia?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes.

How are you approaching Jude’s character because obviously that character is a huge legacy in the comics?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think Ryan and Anna and the writers we’ve worked with have really interesting takes on Judes character. Jude does play a mentor type character and I think it’s a challenge like you said to make sure that the mentee part of that equation shines. But I think we found a way into the character and kind of into their relationship. That’s really interesting and that people aren’t going to expect.

Can you talk about Star Force?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah. There’s a character named Bron Char played by Rune Temte who is amazing. Captain Atlas played by Alegenis Soto, you may recognize him from Ryan’s movie Sugar which was amazing which I highly recommend and Jemma Chan is playing Minerva. She’s called Dr. Minerva in the comics too. They’re all super cool they sort of form this like outer space Seal Team 6 and there’s a lot of amazing action with all of them together in the early going with the movie. Oh yeah and Korath, I’m so sorry. And Djimon Hounsou character Korath who he’s reprising from Guardians one and Ronan of course we’ll see as part of that Kree action early in the movie.

Will we see S.W.O.R.D., the space version of S.H.I.E.L.D., or any other cosmic things?

Jonathan Schwartz: I don’t think we have S.W.O.R.D. in this movie and this movie kind of takes place before Earth is aware of aliens or superheroes or any of that. So it would be pre-Avengers, Pre Sword, Pre Iron Man. Pre All of that. And the second part of your question?

Any other cosmic stuff besides Kree and Skrulls?

Jonathan Schwartz: It’s really focused on the Kree Skrull war. There are little elements other stuff and sort of Blink and you miss it moments. But the Kree Skrull conflict is kind of the heart of the movie.

Why is earth part of the Kree Skrull War?

Jonathan Schwartz: You’re going to have to watch the movie.

Knowing the war goes back centuries, how much does the movie delve into that history and how much did we see?

Jonathan Schwartz: you’ll see as much as is necessary to get captain marvel moving on her story. It’s a conflict that’s dealt with in a very real way hopefully without overloading the audience with exposition which we never want to do. But I think the thrust of the movie is to get our characters in the action as quickly as we can and get that story moving.

Does it become a background conflicts that the story has takings place during?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, it’s an age old conflict that our story. Picks up during.

Speaking of the Kree Skrull war in the comic itself it has a political elements that are tied into like sort of paranoia, will that be in the movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: If you’re talking about kind of the Craddick anti superhero act stuff from the comics? Not Really. There is a paranoia element that’s a little bit different from what’s in that specific storyline. But it’s not kind of related to the anti superhero who could be a Skrull comic stuff. And what I’d say about the Kree Skrull war overall is it’s much more of a kind of backdrop and mythological underpinning for the movie than it is a direct lift of that plot like Civil War was.

In terms of using Coulson who has a future history with the Kree from TV was that challenging to figure out how you just kind of focusing on Coulson as he is.

Jonathan Schwartz: The great part about it is we just get to focus on him as he is so we don’t need to worry about the stuff he’s going to encounter later. There’s lots of fun parallels I’m sure. But we get to see Coulson in his first meeting with Nick Fury at a much younger age where the Kree aren’t even part of his vocabulary yet.

In the footage. Fury says he’s ready to hang it up until he meets Carol. Sort of what looking you say about that is that part of the movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah we’re we’re meeting Nick Fury at a very interesting time in his life. It’s kind of the mid 90s the Cold War is over, the war on terror hasn’t begun yet. It’s a little bit of a slow period for worldwide espionage. And I think Fury is kind of wondering what his place in the world is, in a world where he feels maybe a little obsolete. And then aliens come down from outer space.

Will we see Hydra?

Jonathan Schwartz I wouldn’t go into this movie expecting a Hydra plot. I think with the Skrulls get to be their own thing. But if you remember your Marvel history they’re definitely there.

I see over there on the board… Will we see the Supreme Intelligence, like that version over there?

Jonathan Schwartz: For sure. Part of the fun of the Kree world is establishing the Supreme Intelligence. I don’t think you could do Hala without it.

In the comics, looking back at Carol, she’s had a very long, convoluted and at times problematic history. She’s also had multiple personas. She’s been Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, Captain Marvel. Also one thing that I find really interesting about her is she’s also been on the wrong side of history, like in both civil wars… She’s not exactly the shining beacon of heroism that some people would imagine her to be. Looking at all of that, how do you decide which elements to put in the movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: You know, It’s the same process I think we go through with all of our movies, especially our origin movies, where we look at what storylines make our characters bounce off each other in the most interesting way, what brings out the traits that we want the audience to see in these characters. And what makes us respond to those characters, and how do we get that across to the audience? And that always ends up being a mix of a lot of different stuff. I think we wanted to make Carol really inspirational. And not inspirational because she was perfect, inspirational because she was flawed. There’s a lot of great stuff to draw from, both in Kelly Sue [DeConnick’s] run and elsewhere in the comics from that. Certainly some elements of her story needed an update for a modern audience, which we frequently do, and I’m hoping the audience will be along for the ride for that, and excited for what we did with these characters.

Will we in any way see you address Ms. Marvel, not the Kamala Khan, but how Carol used to be Ms. Marvel?

Jonathan Schwartz: No. Sorry, no.

This feels a little bit on the cosmic side of things, we know James Gunn is kind of overseeing that in a way. Is he at all involved in this?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think he’s read the script, we talked to him about it a little bit. It takes place before a lot of what he’s doing happens, so I’m sure the Skrulls will be a fun toy to play with at some point. But I think we’ve really been able to do our own thing. But we love when James gives input for sure.

Can you talk a little bit about Anna and Ryan. It feels like the director style comes through more and more with every movie I’ve seen. What do they bring to this one?

Jonathan Schwartz: All these movies start from a place of looking at the character, finding out what makes them cool, and bringing that out on the screen. And what’s great about Anna and Ryan’s movies is they’re so character-focused, they become these amazing character pieces. And they had a take on Carol, and a take on the movie, that brought all that to light in a great way. And so, now, they’re really sinking their teeth not just into the performances and not just into the character, but the pre-vis, the action, and everything else that goes into making one of these movies, and they have amazing character instincts, amazing skills of getting performances out of actors, and really incredible action instincts and commercial instincts, so they’re really bringing it all to the table and we’re lucky to have them.

This is obviously gonna be the first female-lead Marvel movie. Was there something about Carol that made her the character that was going to take on that mantle and be this kind of reinvention of not just the MCU but also be the first female lead Marvel superhero with a solo movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: Sure, I think if you’re going to put that on anybody’s shoulders, Carol’s are the strongest. She was always a character that excited us from the comic books. In all the mythology and all the characters we had to draw from, she always kept rising to the top. Her powers are super-cool, her story’s super-cool, the world she gets to take part in is super-cool. And that sort of all goes into the calculus of, what’s the next movie going to be?

I see over there on the board… Will we see the Supreme Intelligence, like that version over there?

Jonathan Schwartz: For sure. Part of the fun of the Kree world is establishing the Supreme Intelligence. I don’t think you could do Hala without it.

In the comics, looking back at Carol, she’s had a very long, convoluted and at times problematic history. She’s also had multiple personas. She’s been Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, Captain Marvel. Also one thing that I find really interesting about her is she’s also been on the wrong side of history, like in both civil wars… She’s not exactly the shining beacon of heroism that some people would imagine her to be. Looking at all of that, how do you decide which elements to put in the movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: You know, It’s the same process I think we go through with all of our movies, especially our origin movies, where we look at what storylines make our characters bounce off each other in the most interesting way, what brings out the traits that we want the audience to see in these characters. And what makes us respond to those characters, and how do we get that across to the audience? And that always ends up being a mix of a lot of different stuff. I think we wanted to make Carol really inspirational. And not inspirational because she was perfect, inspirational because she was flawed. There’s a lot of great stuff to draw from, both in Kelly Sue [DeConnick’s] run and elsewhere in the comics from that. Certainly some elements of her story needed an update for a modern audience, which we frequently do, and I’m hoping the audience will be along for the ride for that, and excited for what we did with these characters.

 

 

 

 

Are you going to be using any of that sort of de-aging, CG technology that we’ve seen in other Marvel movies for Sam or Clark or anyone else in the cast?

Jonathan Schwartz: We will. We’ll be de-aging Sam a little bit, we’ll be de-aging Clark a little bit. Thankfully, both Clark and Sam look amazing, which is a big help for us. But yeah there will be a little bit of that. It’s certainly more shots than we’ve had to do in other movies. We’ve de-aged Robert [Downey Jr.], who looks amazing, and Kurt [Russell], who also looks amazing, we’ve been very lucky with the actors who’ve gone through this process. But this will be significantly more in a movie than we’ve ever done before, which is a fun challenge to have, but I don’t think we could ever ask someone to step into Sam Jackson’s shoes, so I’m glad we’re doing it.

You’re introducing Maria in this film, and her daughter Monica, so is that obviously going to be a set up for the future?

Jonathan Schwartz: I hope there’s more story to tell with Monica, certainly the movie leaves it open for that stuff. I think one of the things that was really fun about the stories that came together and the Monica relationship and the Maria relationship with Carol was being able to tell this story of female friendship, and intergenerational female friendships.

She’s a mother, and you don’t really see that in superhero films. Was that a conscious decision to make her a mother and make that part of the story?

Jonathan Schwartz: It was, and it felt like a natural way into the Maria-Monica characters. It felt like a great way to give Carol a fun relationship that we haven’t seen before. And it’s not gonna keep Monica from being away from the fun of this journey.

Can you talk about the character being played by Annette Bening?

Jonathan Schwartz: No. Can I pass on that one? I’m gonna pass.

There’s a lot going on in the early ’90s in the MCU with Klaw stealing the Vibranium, Howard Stark dying just a month before that. Is any of that tied into this movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: It’s all happening. It’s all happening in the background. Part of what we liked about the 90s, like I said, was giving Carol her own turf. There are a lot of setups, and there are a lot connections to other things happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I think what’s most important is giving Carol space for her own adventure.

Can you specifically say what year this takes place?

Jonathan Schwartz: Uh, I think we say… Actually, no, no I can’t.

Is there a unique MCU spin on the Skrulls as opposed to what we know from the comics?

Jonathan Schwartz: There’s always a spin on it, there’s always a take. But I think what people know about the Skrulls is, they’re not to be trusted, they can shape-shift into anybody, and that makes them super-dangerous. And those things I think you’ll definitely find in the movie.

I didn’t see the chin. Are you going away from the Thanos chin?

Jonathan Schwartz: Oh no, man, they’ve got chins.

Thanos chins?

Jonathan Schwartz: They’ve got their own chins.

We’ve been hearing a lot about how Captain Marvel is the most powerful hero in the MCU. What does that mean? Does that mean she can just beat Thor and Hulk in a fight? Or is there more to it than that? Can she beat Thor and Hulk in a fight?

Jonathan Schwartz: I know better than to wade in the ‘Who can beat Thor in a fight’ [debate].

Well, if you’re saying she’s the most powerful, I’m interested in hearing an explanation on what you mean when you guys say that?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think if you go back [to the tape]… Is anyone recording this? I think it was, ‘one of the most if not the most.’ But part of the fun certainly is that she is super-powered and kind of able to use her powers on a scale that we haven’t seen before. What that means for the movie, I think we’ll wait and see.

One of the things about the Marvel films, starting back with Iron Man, that makes them so enjoyable, is that they do feel so grounded even though they get so cosmic. Can you talk a little bit about how this film is going to feel grounded even though it’s very fantastical?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, it’s a little misleading, because everything behind you [on the walls] is super fantastical. We didn’t do a lot of concept art of all the practical locations we’re shooting in. But that’s about half the movie. Part of the fun of shooting in Los Angeles is we get to go to real places and really shoot there. And that’s also part of what Ryan and Anna bring to the movie and part of their aesthetic, is grounding this kind of crazy outer-space adventure in the reality of shooting in Los Angeles. And I think that’s going to result in a really interesting, really cool aesthetic that you haven’t seen in a Marvel movie before.

Is that why you guys decided to shoot here and not in Atlanta, primarily?

Jonathan Schwartz: There’s a few different reasons. One of them is, not a lot of big movies shoot in LA anymore, so it weirdly feels like fresh territory for a movie like this. I think we really like the idea of shooting LA for LA, especially ’90s LA for LA, which is so specific and cool. And part of it is that our crews have been traveling to Atlanta and traveling to the UK and traveling everywhere for a long time, and getting them home to see their families for a movie is not the worst thing in the world.

There are a lot of parallels between Captain Marvel and Green Lantern, with being in the Air Force and she’s going to space to fight with aliens, wearing a green costume, getting superpowers. Did you guys discuss that at all? Like maybe where they zig, we’ll zag, that kind of thing, or maybe a cautionary tale?

Jonathan Schwartz: I’m sure we discussed it at some point. I think the characters are different enough and where they come from are different enough that it wasn’t a huge thing. Certainly what we want to do with this movie, and with every movie, is show the audience something they haven’t seen before. And I think that means making it unique from Green Lantern and unique from the other Marvel movies.

How do you make Captain Marvel very powerful but not over-powerful for this cinematic universe, because it’s not just this film but everything?

Jonathan Schwartz: Very good question. I don’t know if I know the answer to that yet. I can’t really speak to the movies going forward, part of the pleasure of this movie is going to be seeing Captain Marvel kick a lot of ass. If we’re lucky enough to be able to see more of her going forward then I think we’ll think about how to give her challenges that resonate with the audience still. Certainly I don’t think heading into other movies that you may see her in, you’re going to worry about her feeling overpowered. [Laughs]

We saw a shot of her in the first reel of her with Cap. I assume that’s not in this movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: That’s not in this movie.

Can you describe Captain Marvel’s relationship with Mar-Vell, Jude Law’s character?

Jonathan Schwartz: Uh, her relationship with Jude Law’s character, it’s a really mentor-mentee thing. He’s kind of the leader of her squad on Hala and teachers her in the ways of being a Kree warrior. And so over the course of their adventure, when she gets captured by the Skrulls and they get separated, he spends a lot of the movie trying to find her and trying to get her back and rescue her from the Skrulls.

It’s a tender relationship, but it’s very much mentor-protégé. And I think Carol still has a lot of the elements that made her human in her, which Jude Law’s character both appreciates and is irritated by.

Do they have that kind of long history together? Is he part of that origin story?

Jonathan Schwartz: Uh, is he part of that origin story? I’m gonna passeroo.

Did Brie actually go up in the fighter jets?

Jonathan Schwartz: She totally did. She totally kicked ass. I would never do it in a million years. It looked so dangerous. [laughs] Yeah, she really went up there, as did Lashana, as did Anna Boden, our director. I got nervous and nauseous just sitting through the briefings where they tell you what’s gonna happen up there. But she went up, they gave her a call sign, she went through the whole bit.

This is Marvel’s first modern female-lead movie. Did you guys look at Wonder Woman at all and take any lessons from that, or any inspirations?

Jonathan Schwartz: You know, what was so great about Wonder Woman was talking to female audience members afterwards about how they felt watching the movie. And a lot of the people I talked to just said, ‘I’ve never felt like that watching a movie before in my entire life. That character resonated [with] me in ways I didn’t even know a character could resonate with me.’ Which was great to hear, and kind of an amazing thing… I think it helped us understand how important movies like this are. So in terms of making the movie feel distinct, I think all these movies chart their own courses anyway. It’s just like Green Lantern. We don’t want to make a movie that people have seen before. But I think that means making the movie feel distinct, not just from other female-lead movies,  but from all the other Marvel movies as well, which I think we try to do on every movie. It wasn’t a new challenge, necessarily, but it was one I think we were extra-excited for because of the nature of what this movie means to people.

Was there any challenge in the fact that it’s a prequel, essentially, to the rest of the MCU, knowing that Carol is still going to be alive after Infinity War. Is there anything there you guys worried about, thematically or dramatically?

Jonathan Schwartz: Uh, no. Sorry, can you repeat the question?

The movie’s a prequel, you have 20 movies that take place after this I was wondering, knowing that she’s around and knowing that she’s still alive at the end of this, not with this movie [but Infinity War], how do you give her stakes?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think the audiences knows enough by now that we’re probably not going to kill off an origin character in an origin movie. So I don’t think that’s a huge leap that she’s going to be alive at the end of the movie. And a lot of the stakes in the movie aren’t centered on Carol, necessarily. I think the way to approach movies like this isn’t necessarily who’s going to live? Who’s going to die? But what do you want the audience to get out of it? What’s the journey you want them to go on? Can you get them invested in this character? And I think hopefully the answer to that question is yes.

All films in the MCU have that kind of unique MCU feel. But then you have Guardians and Thor: Ragnarok and very, very funny, more emphasis on humor than action, or more emphasis on humor than seriousness. Then you have Civil War and Winter Soldier that are just really heavy, very dramatic, with just a sprinkle of humor. Where does Captain Marvel [relate to those tones]?

Jonathan Schwartz: It’s kind of somewhere in between. You know, Carol in the comics is a very funny character in her own way. In a way that doesn’t feel like Doctor Strange, in a way that doesn’t feel like Iron Man, like Robert Downey Jr., that gets to be her unique voice, and that’s the voice that we tried to get across. Which isn’t joke a minute, Rocket Racoon Guardians of the Galaxy, which is super funny, and isn’t super grounded, kinda heavy, as some of our other movies have been. I think it inhabits a place a lot like Doctor Strange, that takes the movie and the stakes of the movie pretty seriously, but allows the characters to have fun within it.

I don’t necessarily expect huge details, but back to the stakes question, what are kind of the stakes? Are we talking about the decimation of the entire universe? Are we talking about mostly personal stakes? What are they protecting?

Jonathan Schwartz: Like all Marvel movies, it’s a mix of both. I think we’ll be rooting along the course of this movie for Carol to reconnect with her humanity, and that really is the stakes of the movie.

What is Open World? (The working title of production)

Jonathan Schwartz: It doesn’t mean much, I’m sorry. Very early on in the processes we have to pick those titles. And at the time we were still very early on in developing the movie, so it was like, it was sort of a like an open world video game in a lot of ways. Like it was a movie that could be a lot of different things.

As far as the space battles and things, is it going to be something more like darker like a Rogue One? Are we gonna see a war? Or is it gonna be more like operatic big space, kind of shiny and clean with the explosions versus down and dirty?

Jonathan Schwartz: Um, I’m not quite sure how to answer that yet. It’s going to be PG-13, for whatever that’s worth. You know, I think the hope is to show the stakes of galactic war, but not in a way that’s gonna detract from the fun of the movie. Does that answer your question? Okay. I think that’s the best I can do right now.

Were there qualities that you guys immediately recognized in Brie’s performance and interpretation of the character that affected the way you went in the film and the way that, like – there’s degrees of separation between Tony Stark and Robert Downey, Jr., you know, he owns that character. Is there – did you find that with Brie, too, are there ways that she influenced the way the movie unfolds?

Jonathan Schwartz: With all of these movies, the voice of the actor can’t help but come through. And with Ryan and Anna’s help, and kind of guided by the script, I think they’ve found a version of Carol that’s really cool, that’s not exactly Carol from the comic books, and not even exactly the Carol that you read when you read the script page, but becomes kind of their own unique creation that’s really cool and really interesting. And Brie certainly has done everything she possibly can to make the character feel as real as possible. I think she spent more time at the stunt gym, training for fights, than any actor I’ve ever worked with. Which is amazing to watch. She’s gone up in fighter jets, she’s hung out with the Thunderbirds. She’s going to do a lot of her own stunts this movie, and a lot of her own fighting, which, you saw a little of in that behind the scenes reel. Not a lot, not a ton of actors would be doing those wire gags, doing that stuff for real. I did that stuff earlier today, because I randomly stopped by the stunt gym, and it takes a lot out of you, man! It’s really hard! I do recommend it if you get the chance, stop by stage A, they’ll put you up on wires. It’s super fun, but it’s … it’s not easy. I was pulling this up to show you guys a video, but maybe another time.

Is there anything you can tell us about any of the specific weaponry here?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, I mean, you know, Star Force, like any awesome, outer space fighting force, has their kind of own unique skills and weapons. You know, Korath has his awesome swords, Bron-Char is kind of a bigger, stronger guy, he fights with his fists. Att-Lass is more of a marksman that has those two pistols, Minn-Erva is the sniper of the group who kind of gets to be a little bit removed, and Yon-Rogg … there’s sort of their own, other powers sprinkled throughout. Sorry, did I talk about Djimon’s swords? Yes. Okay, good.

For Carol, could you talk about her personality a little bit? Like, where does she get her morality from, what’s her motivation in the movie, what’s her baggage, you know, what’s her flaw?

Jonathan Schwartz: I mean, a lot of the movie is about Carol not remembering her human past. When we meet her at the beginning of the movie, she believes that she is a Kree, and kind of has been inducted into their army, she’s proud as a person, she loves being a Kree. And then over the course of her adventure, realized there’s more to her story than that. So the movie kind of becomes her unravelling the root of her own origin, the root of her own mystery.

She believes she’s a Kree, you said? Like, she – it’s almost like a brainwashing type thing?

Jonathan Schwartz: That’s from the early Miss Marvel comics.

Okay, but is that – like, she – okay. I’m not saying it’s not, but I’m just saying that she’s under the belief at the time we meet her?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes, when we meet her, she believes she is a Kree on Hala.

In Top Gun, they shot all of the air sequences actually in the air. Are you trying to go more for something like that, because it’s nineties action, or is a lot of it gonna be CG and on-stage with green screen?

Jonathan Schwartz: We went to Edwards, we shot some practical stuff for air to air sequences. A lot of that will end up being CG, just by the nature of the beast. But to the extent that we could shoot practically, we did. And … even the stuff we shoot practically informs the visual effects stuff so much, and it’s immensely helpful. And the Air Force has been amazing about granting us their assets and their hangars and their airplanes to use, it’s been an incredible experience.

Where else have you guys shot in LA? Or, where will you?

Jonathan Schwartz: Let’s see, we shot in that one rando strip mall that you guys saw in the paparazzi photos. We’re heading up to Simi Valley soon, to shoot in a quarry up there. We shot at this other rando strip mall in the Valley, which is where that Blockbuster Video got built. We shot up at Shaver Lake, which is outside Fresno, and at Edwards Air Force Base, which is a couple hours away. We shot in the Lucerne Valley for some of that desert look. It’s been a lot in LA, and then a lot around LA.

In the clip we saw Carol, at one point we saw she had on her suit with a black strip on her chest, is that for CG for the symbol?

Jonathan Schwartz: Suit with a black strip on her chest … oh, I think that’s just her in, like, you know, the chest plate comes on separately as a piece of the costume, so when she sits down and does interviews, it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world to sit down, so it actually comes off.

Did you mention we’d be seeing Yon-Rogg in this film at all?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yon-Rogg does pop up, yeah.

Okay.

Jonathan Schwartz: He’s an important part of the mythology.

Like you said, her powers, when you said that they’re, that she’s the most powerful, so we’ll see, like – I’m trying to think, like, the most cinematic thing we’ve seen in the universe is probably Thor, as far as showing off when he blasted all the aliens in the Avengers. Are we gonna see things that are bigger than that?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah. Yeah.

Can we expect spaceship battles?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yes. Any other requests? We got, like, twenty-five shooting days left!

Time travel?

Jonathan Schwartz: Time travel? Okay. Good.

The trick with a character that’s that powerful is also keeping her vulnerable. Is there – did you guys put a lot of thought in how to keep her – you know, keep those kinds of stakes with her?

Jonathan Schwartz: We did. And she – I wouldn’t say she’s that powerful for the entire movie, and a lot of the movie is kind of about her understanding her true power. So, it kind of becomes an issue for more the end of the movie, and more going forward than it does for this movie.

You said that Nick Fury is kind of going through a slow period in his career, and then he comes across Captain Marvel. Are you able to say what his reaction is, does he see her as a threat?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think he reacts very much as any of us would. First, seeing a person in a teal green Star Force outfit tell you, say, I’m an alien from another planet, and there’s Skrulls infiltrating your world! Okay. But, very quickly, he encounters the Skrulls on his own, and sort of realizes that he’s wrapped up in something much bigger than he could have ever imagined.

Can you say how Carol and Nick Fury’s relationship compares to Nick Fury’s relationship with the other superheroes we’ve seen?

Jonathan Schwartz: I think it benefits in its uniqueness by having Carol be the first superhero he’s ever encountered or really heard of in his life. She sort of gets to be the window to him for this entire, bigger universe. So, he’s a little, a little less of the, I know everything there is to know, Nick Fury that we see in the later movies, and a little bit more, perhaps, open to new ideas.

Is this where we learn what happened to his eye?

Jonathan Schwartz: Pass.

How does … it seems like there’s some big, climactic stuff happening in this movie. How does nobody in Earth or Iron Man, the events of Iron Man, or the Battle of New York, know about what has happened, you know, the big stuff that’s happening in this movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: I mean, you know. I could answer that, but then I’d have to get into what all the big stuff is. I don’t know. That feels like … that feels like a wait and see. Sorry. None of you guys have asked about the cat, I’m really surprised.

I was just about to ask about the cat!

Jonathan Schwartz: No, it’s too late! It’s too late!

Tell us about the cat!

Jonathan Schwartz: There’s an awesome cat in this movie named Goose.

Is that a Top Gun reference?

Jonathan Schwartz: That is a Top Gun reference, kind of a take on Chewie from the comics. Goose is played by a team of four cats, who all have their own specialty. There’s Reggie, there’s Archie, there’s Rizzo, and there’s Gonzo. They’re an A-team of cats who can all do one trick, because you can’t teach cats – I learned all about cats, shooting cats over the course of this movie. So one of them is, like, the face cat, who’s the pretty cat, that’s Archie. No, sorry, that’s Reggie! One of them’s the holding cat you hold and can be held. One of them’s, like, the nuzzling cat who will walk up to your leg and nuzzle it. And one of them’s, like, the cat who will paw you, who’s a jerk. I think that’s Rizzo. If you told me before this movie started that I would be auditioning cats to play the role of Goose, I would not have believed you.

Were there any more Top Gun references?

Jonathan Schwartz: There’s probably one or two other ones sprinkled in there. Ones that I only register subconsciously now.

Do we see the cat in a costume?

Jonathan Schwartz: Oh, the mask? Maybe, that’d be cool.

Gonna do a cat-owner screening, bring your …

Jonathan Schwartz: Oh, man, I’d love to. People are gonna love Goose!

Dogs get everything, cats get nothing!

On the comics, on this last page over here, there’s a big tentacle monster, is that something that’s gonna, we’re gonna see something from?

Jonathan Schwartz: You know, that’s a version of the Supreme Intelligence, and the Supreme Intelligence is a part of the movie.

Over here?

Jonathan Schwartz: Oh, sorry, that tentacle monster!

Yeah, that – yeah.

Jonathan Schwartz: Sort of, we sort of … no.

What can you say about Ronan’s role in the movie?

Jonathan Schwartz: Just like it’s an earlier version of Nick Fury, it’s an earlier version of Ronan, who has not become the radical zealot that we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume One. So he has his own station in Kree society, on Hala, and has his own role to play in the Kree military that intersects with Star Force in an interesting way.

Will we be … you know, will there be sort of a … will we leave him in a place that we’ll kind of see how he gets to where we see him next?

Jonathan Schwartz: Yeah, a little bit, yeah. I mean, I think the seed – just like there’s a Nick Fury origin story buried in this movie, buried a little bit deeper is the Ronan origin story. I’m sure you guys have many more exciting people to talk to over the course of the visit, I don’t wanna hold you up.

More: Djimon Hounsou Interview from Captain Marvel Set Visit

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