Brie Larson had an interesting time after she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Captain Marvel. The story and the franchise is, after all, a fairly complicated one. It involves space, technology so complex it might as well be magic, and (spoiler alert) time travel. In addition, Larson’s solo movie Captain Marvel was a prequel rather than a sequel.
So it’s no wonder she was confused. And just prior to the movie coming out, Larson made an appearance on The Tonight Show in which she chatted with Jimmy Fallon about her role in the superhero franchise. It turns out that playing an iconic character may come with its downsides, as well as its obvious perks.
Larson was, she explained, left totally in the dark when it came to filming one important scene. She didn’t even know what had happened in the story at that point, in fact. So her description of what it was like filming that segment gives fans an insight into what really goes on behind the scenes of Marvel movies. Spoilers ahead!
The Captain Marvel movie had a lot of heavy lifting to do when it came to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. It wasn’t just a prequel to one movie, but several. It told the backstories of Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, the Tesseract, the “Avengers” name and more. And, of course, it introduced Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, herself.
However, audiences had previously received a teaser for Captain Marvel via the end credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War. In it, Nick Fury is seen hitting a button on an old pager as chaos erupts all around him. That action, it turns out, will summon Captain Marvel at a time of need.
After Infinity War, though, some fans questioned why Nick Fury never tried pressing that pager button before, as Earth has certainly needed help in situations prior to that one. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige subsequently answered that question in an interview with the website SlashFilm in March 2019.
The interviewer asked, referring to the events in The Avengers, “Why didn’t Nick Fury not use the pager until Infinity War? Because this big hole opened up in the sky and aliens attacked New York City.” Feige answered that those events might not have qualified as a true emergency.
And Feige went on to add, “The other thing I’d say is how do you know he never hit it? How do we know he never pushed it before? We’ve never seen him push it before. That doesn’t mean he never did.” That’s seems to be a fair point.
Moreover, Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Nick Fury, feels the same way. In March 2019 he told IGN, “We finally have an emergency that I feel warrants [Captain Marvel’s] presence. This is unprecedented. How are you gonna fight that? I can’t fight that. If I’m not here, I need to find someone to come here who can handle it.”
The end credit scenes have long been an integral part of Marvel movies. The tradition dates all the way back to the first Iron Man movie, in fact. After the credits were done rolling, a new scene appeared. It featured the first on-screen appearance of Nick Fury, and he questioned Iron Man about “the Avengers Initiative.”
Most of Marvel’s post-credits scenes have foreshadowed later events that would happen in the Marvel universe. For example, the one from Iron Man 2 reveals that Thor’s hammer has been found in the desert, setting up the plot of Thor. And Scarlet Witch was introduced alongside Quicksilver during the credits of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Sometimes, though, the post-credits scenes are used in a more comical manner. The Guardians of the Galaxy ones feature Groot dancing to The Jackson 5, as well as appearances by Howard the Duck and Cosmo the dog. No foreshadowing, then, just cute little snippets. And the post-Spider-Man: Homecoming scene showed Captain America making fun of the audience for waiting.
Needless to say, though, the end-credits scenes can often count as spoilers. For instance, Captain Marvel’s post-credits sequence revealed what happened directly after Infinity War: Carol received Fury’s message and returned to Earth, encountering the surviving superheroes.
And spoilers are a very big no-no in the world of Marvel. The studio takes drastic steps, in fact, to prevent anything from leaking out that might spoil the movie. Just as Endgame was being released, for instance, directors The Russo Brothers released a letter on social media asking people who’d watched the film to not spoil it for others.
The Russos ended their open letter with: “Remember, Thanos still demands your silence.” Yet no matter how hard they try, and even with the threat of Thanos’ wrath, things still occasionally slip out. Sometimes, in fact, they even come directly from the mouths of Marvel actors who are themselves sworn to secrecy.
And Mark Ruffalo, who plays Bruce Banner, is by far the biggest offender. For example, he very nearly revealed the end of Infinity War during a 2017 interview with Good Morning America. Ruffalo said, “In this next one, ha – everybody dies,” just cutting off the word “half” in time. Don Cheadle, who was there with him, didn’t look impressed at all.
Not only that, but Ruffalo also managed to inadvertently livestream the opening scenes of Thor: Ragnarok when he went to see it in October 2017. That’s because he’d been talking to fans on Instagram but then managed to leave the app turned on when the movie actually started. As a result, thousands of people were able to hear the dialogue from the start of the film.
And Spider-Man actor Tom Holland has a habit of accidentally releasing spoilers as well. When he spoke with Allo Ciné in 2017, for instance, he gave away that there would be three Spider-Man solo movies, not two as everybody thought at the time. When the interviewer pointed this out, Holland replied, “Well, now you know. Sorry Marvel. Whoops!”
Moreover, when Infinity War came out, Holland also spoiled the movie for an entire theater audience. During an appearance at the Arclight cinema in Los Angeles, the actor walked in on one of the screenings. Assuming that the film had already ended and everyone knew about Spider-Man’s death, he shouted, “I’m alive!” But they hadn’t actually started watching the movie yet…
So bearing all that in mind, perhaps it’s not surprising that Brie Larson was left as clueless as possible by the filmmakers when she filmed her first scene as Captain Marvel. In fact, the whole process made her feel completely baffled, as she explained to Jimmy Fallon when she appeared on his show.
“I flew to Atlanta to start shooting, had no idea what I was doing,” Larson told Fallon. “And I arrived, and they gave me a piece of paper that was a full page of dialogue and action. But all of it was redacted except for my one line.” As a result, she had no idea where her character was supposed to be or who was with her.
“I even went to hair and makeup and was like, ‘Who else is here?’” Larson continued. “And they were like, ‘We don’t know, we don’t know.’ It wasn’t until I walked on set that I was like, ‘Oh, crap, I’m like in a Marvel movie right now.’ And then I couldn’t talk about it.” In fact, she didn’t even know that the scene in question would be the end-credits one.
“There’s a tag in Captain Marvel where it like whip-pans to me and all the Avengers. And I’m like, ‘Where’s Fury?’ I didn’t know that was a tag for Captain Marvel,” Larson added. In the scene, Fury isn’t there because he’s been snapped away by Thanos, but Larson wasn’t told that.
“I didn’t know what that was that we were shooting. There was also nobody else there,” Larson said. “I was by myself on a green screen, and I walked in and they were like, ‘Just real quick, we’re going to whip pan over to you, and you’re gonna go, ‘Where’s Fury?’ And I was like, ‘Cool, cool, got it, got it, got it.’”
Larson admitted that she had to ask the crew for help, but all they would tell her was that five other people would be put into the scene with her. “They whip-pan over to me and I was like, ‘Wait, where… where is [Fury] actually? Like… is he in the room… like what room am I in? Is he in the other room? Like another universe?” she explained.
Larson subsequently concluded that Nick Fury was probably dead in the scene she was shooting and acted accordingly. “So then afterward, they were like, ‘Okay, great. So after you say that, could you look over to the other people in the room?’ And I was like, ‘Okay… who else is in the room?’” Larson recalled. “And they were like, ‘Five people.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, could I have a tape mark?’”
So Larson acted out the scene, but she didn’t understand context until she viewed the complete Captain Marvel movie. “And then I had the pleasure, at the Captain Marvel premiere, of seeing what that scene was and going, ‘Oh, that’s what that meant!” Larson told Fallon.
The whole episode is a funny one from Larson’s point of view – indeed, she laughed while telling it. However, it’s still led some people to question that style of moviemaking. “The way Marvel filmed Endgame in order to avoid spoilers sounds completely messed up,” Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff wrote in April 2019.
VanDerWerff suggested that paranoia about movie details being leaked “leads us to a world where people are so terrified of spoilers that they film their blockbuster movies in a fashion not unlike assembling several jigsaw puzzles at once… It’s unsustainable, and something needs to give. That ‘something’ is how much we care about spoilers.”
Moreover, Larson herself has confessed to being terrified of spoilers. Or more specifically, of revealing them to the wider world. “I just never wanted to feel like I was going to slip up or that I was going to say the wrong thing,” Larson told USA Today in January 2019. “I was like, ‘I can’t live with myself being the one that spoils something.’”
“So I really just deleted it,” Larson continued. “I tried my best to journal it if I want to recall it and go, ‘Oh yeah, that was a crazy time.’ And I’m excited when the movie comes out to finally be able to talk about it and go, ‘Yes, this was crazy.’ But my family doesn’t know. I haven’t talked to anybody about anything, because I’m just a very diligent secret-keeper.”
Larson also had help from her Endgame co-stars when it came to adjusting to the Marvel universe. “I was just able to learn so much, and everybody was really kind and helpful,” she told USA Today “So I got to learn the ropes a little bit before I was thrown into this thing where I’d be by myself.”
Later that January, before the release of Captain Marvel, Larson commented on social media about her appearance on the cover of Empire and made a joke about her spoiler-prone Endgame co-star. “Honestly not sure if I’m spoiling this @empiremagazine cover but whatever, someone has to be the @MarkRuffalo of 2019,” she tweeted.
Captain Marvel was released in the U.S. during March 2019, and it was an instant success. Not only did critics enjoy it, but the film also made a huge amount of money. Indeed, it became the first ever female-led superhero movie to make more than a billion dollars. Even the much-hyped Wonder Woman didn’t make quite that much.
And just a month later Avengers: Endgame premiered worldwide, giving fans a chance to see Captain Marvel in action again. However, a few fans noticed something curious that Larson was wearing as jewelry when she appeared on the red carpet. So, was she subtly delivering a spoiler after all?
Larson was wearing five rings that corresponded to the colors of the Infinity Stones, the magic gems that Infinity War and Endgame center around. These seemed to represent the Space, Power, Soul, Reality and Time jewels, and on her bracelet was another gem that was yellow like the Mind gem.
To make things even more intriguing, the designer who made the piece posted about it on Instagram alongside a picture of the Infinity Gauntlet. “When [Larson’s stylist] @samanthamcmillen_stylist and @brielarson call you and commission you to make special pieces inspired by this … you JUMP on it, right?” Irene Neuwirth wrote.
Perhaps Larson was hinting at something that might happen in the film? “Does Captain Marvel eventually retrieve the glove from Thanos, defeating him along the way?” Elle magazine speculated. But in the end, perhaps it wasn’t supposed to be a spoiler at all. Because in the movie, although Danvers does hold the Infinity Gauntlet, it isn’t for long.
In the film’s final scenes, Captain Marvel manages to stop Thanos from utilizing the new Infinity Gauntlet. She puts up an excellent fight, but in the end Tony Stark delivers the killing blow. He snaps his fingers with the new weapon and turns Thanos and his entire army into dust. However, this kills Stark as well.
With Iron Man’s death, the Marvel universe is changed forever. Nonetheless, Captain Marvel is still alive and kicking. She’s even found Nick Fury again, in fact. So the chances seem high that the superhero will return in Captain Marvel 2, although that film doesn’t have a release date yet. Hopefully things will be less confusing for Larson next time around