Why Captain Marvel’s directors changed the gender of Annette Bening’s character
Having her play two characters in the film was a last-minute decision.
Spoilers ahead: Captain Marvel’s directors revealed that one mentor character in the film was changed “pretty late in the process of writing” from male to female.
Mar-Vell, played by Annette Bening, was written as a man in original drafts of the screenplay, similar to the comics. The director duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were already considering male actors whom they could cast when Boden came up with the idea of the switch.
“Pretty late in the process of writing it, I think I just woke up one morning and I had dreamt it or something,” said Boden to Entertainment Weekly. “I texted Ryan, and I was like, ‘Am I crazy that these could both be the same actor?’ And he was like, ‘Yes, you are crazy, and yes, you should talk to Marvel about it immediately.’ So it was a late-breaking idea, but something that I think helped pull those elements together in a way that it would’ve been hard to otherwise.”
While an earlier trailer outed Bening’s character as the Supreme Intelligence, she ended up playing two characters in the film. Bening’s other character is Mar-Vell, a Kree research scientist who lived on Earth under the name Dr Wendy Lawson.
The original Mar-Vell was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in 1967. The odd name was conceived after the trademark for the original Captain Marvel, a Superman knockoff created in 1940 by Fawcett Comics. That Captain Marvel now belongs to the DC Universe and goes by the name Shazam. A film of the same name, starring Zachary Levi, will be arriving in April.
Carol Danvers was formed as a love interest for the original Mar-Vell, and she gained her powers after being exposed to a radioactive Kree explosion. Earlier drafts of the Captain Marvel movie kept Mar-Vell as a key part of Carol’s origin story, but the filmmakers felt that the couple’s bits were not working.
Boden then suggested that they cast a woman and combine the roles of Mar-Vell and the Supreme Intelligence, the all-encompassing cerebral force that rules the Kree and takes the form of a person its viewer admires most.
“We’ve just been big fans of her for a long time, and she’s got all those qualities. She’s got the great mentor quality that we were looking for in that character, but she can also be really tough, and that was really necessary for both aspects," he said.
“She can be regal, which was perfect for the Supreme Intelligence, and she can also just be casual and cool and laid back, which was necessary for Lawson.”
Captain Marvel is now showing in theatres.