When actress Brie Larson landed the role of Captain Marvel, she didn’t tell a soul – not even her loved ones.
“No one knew. My family didn’t even know. I was so scared. These were my first days with Marvel so I didn’t know what I was allowed to say,” Larson recalls the days leading to her official announcement as Captain Marvel back in 2016.
“So even when we were filming, I was constantly getting on a plane to go to work. People were like, ‘Why are you there?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know, because I’m vacationing?’ Like I didn’t know what to say.”
Larson – along with co-stars Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr, directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and producer Trinh Tran – were fielding questions from journalists all over Asia at the Seoul leg of the Avengers: Endgame promotional tour. (Read our review of the movie here)
And indeed, throughout our interview with the actress, she was careful not to cross the fine line between sharing her experiences shooting the film and divulging details that may spoil its plot.
Endgame directors Anthony and Joe, who also directed the previous Avengers movie, Infinity War, talk about upholding such a high level of secrecy.
(Such was their commitment to secrecy that the directors even changed certain details in the Infinity War trailer in an effort to misdirect viewers and preserve the actual plot.)
“I think that we live in a culture that wants everything yesterday. And I think there’s a small minority of people who like to spoil things,” Joe says.
“So we do everything we can to protect the integrity of the viewing experience for people who don’t want spoilers. They’ve spent 10 years of their lives caring about these characters. And the last thing they want is know the ending before they walk into the theatre.”
Just two days after our interview in Seoul, news swirled that a five-minute clip apparently from Endgame has leaked, revealing major plot details.
The Russo brothers later issued a statement, which doesn’t directly address the leak, but pleads moviegoers to not spoil the film for others (who have not seen it yet) when it hits cinemas.
This high degree of confidentiality surrounding Endgame is understandable. After all, Endgame is the conclusion to a journey that started more than 10 years ago with Iron Man in 2008.
A string of 21 superhero films have since followed including Endgame. These films are all part of a bigger story called the Infinity Saga, which revolves around the powerful Infinity Stones and the Avengers – a ragtag group of superheroes – effort to keep them safe.
These six stones, if fallen into the wrong hands, have the power to wipe out populations.
“From the first Iron Man, an independently-financed film, a character that nobody knew, even Marvel fans hardly knew who he was, to being on the verge of releasing our biggest movie yet today is really remarkable,” Feige talks about how far they’ve come.
“I don’t think I would do-over anything.”
Meanwhile, Renner, who is one of the earliest cast members on the film series, offers his most precious takeaway from making the films.
“It has to be my friendships with the cast. They are truly my dear, dear friends. I’m lucky to be doing what I love with people I love doing it with,” he says, adding the matching tattoos (of the Avengers logo) he and some of his co-stars got last year was a symbol of that friendship.
Renner became a father in 2013, two years after making his debut as world-class archer Hawkeye in 2011’s Thor.
He reflects on what it means to play a character without any superhuman abilities and the message it sends to kids: “I love the idea of playing a superhero with no superpowers. I think it’s awesome because it’s relatable to people.
“What makes him a real superhero? People have to think about that. Is it tenacity, strength and a lion’s heart? Is that a power? What does that say to your kids? (It says) that that’s a superpower.”
Moment of truth
Endgame picks up right after the events of Infinity War, in which supervillain Thanos came into possession of all six Infinity Stones and decided to decimate half of all living creatures in the universe, turning members of the Avengers like Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man to dust.
From the looks of the trailer, the surviving Avengers are banding together and coming after Thanos, with the help of a new member – Captain Marvel.
“Well, she is the strongest,” Larson says with a laugh when asked what her character brings to the table. “So I’m feeling pretty good about that.”
In Captain Marvel, Marvel’s first female-led superhero film which debuted in March, viewers learned her strength comes from one of the Infinity Stones.
The actress says playing such a powerful character has rubbed off a little on her in real life.
“It taught me so much. I always labelled myself as an introvert with asthma. I trained for nine months before I started filming. It changed my brain, it changed the way I carried myself and it strengthened my voice,” Larson, 29, offers.
Larson talks about the significance of Captain Marvel, one of only a handful of films to ever earn more than US$1bil (RM4.13bil) worldwide.
“She is the symbol of the importance of representation, the importance of the female story, the female journey. But she’s also for everyone. It’s about equality at the end of the day.”
Despite her great powers, Larson says her character believes in teamwork just as much as the rest of the Avengers. “She is a great team player. I don’t find her to be someone who likes to overpower or over dominate.”
Speaking of teamwork, there is no greater display of teamwork on the set of Endgame than the directors themselves Anthony and Joe.
The brothers have worked on four Marvel films including Endgame, two of which have surpassed the US$1bil mark. Asked if the stresses of the job have ever affected their relationship, Joe replies: “We’ve been doing it for 25 years now. If there are disagreements, they’re gone in five minutes. I think that’s the important part of the creative process, you have to keep making decisions and keep moving forward. We’ve never had any real issues.”
Anthony adds: “I remember having this revelation that we tend to argue most when we don’t know what we want to do. Once we get to the moment where something feels right, we’re fine.”
Endgame isn’t the end
While Endgame closes the chapter on the Infinity Saga, it is hardly the end of the book yet.
For one, Marvel has announced a slate of projects on the small screen to flesh out characters like Renner’s Hawkeye, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, Vision and Loki.
Another exciting project in the pipeline is Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero film featuring skilled martial artist Shang-Chi.
Crazy Rich Asians, the first Hollywood movie with an all-Asian cast in 25 years, surprisingly didn’t do well in China and a number of Asian countries (though it was well-received in the United States).
Asked if he sees this as a risk or an opportunity for Marvel, Feige responds: “I think every movie we do is a risk. We only want to do the movies that people seem to think are risks.”
Ultimately, Feige believes characters on the big screen should be a reflection of people in real life.
“We want our films to reflect the world. We want our films to reflect the audiences all over the globe that are cheering for the films. We want them all to see themselves up there.”
Asked if there are plans to introduce superheroes with bodies of different shapes and sizes, Feige doesn’t see why not. In fact, he declares: “Yes, and perhaps sooner than you think.”
For now, audiences will be focused on Endgame. And judging by the reactions of the select few who have seen it before the premiere date, it’s advisable to pack tissues to the cinema.
“It’s the first film we’ve ever made that, no matter what, someone in the room gets emotional when we’re screening it,” Feige says.
“It’s usually very professional because we’re judging the visual effects and we’re looking at every little detail but we just lose ourselves in this movie. Somebody (will get) emotional. I hope the world feels the same way.”
Avengers: Endgame is showing at GSC cinemas nationwide. Read our review of the movie here.