Marvel announced Saturday night at Comic-Con that Brie Larson will take on the role of Captain Marvel in Marvel Studio’s first female-led superhero film. Captain Marvel doesn’t hit theaters until 2019, but fans at Comic-Con greeted the news that the Room actress would be taking on the role with cheers.
And with good reason: Brie Larson will make a fantastic Captain Marvel. She even got Captain America actor Chris Evans’ seal of approval.
For the uninitiated, Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, is a fighter pilot with alien DNA. She can fly and shoot beams out of her hands. A control freak, she has the swagger of Chuck Yeager and the wise-cracking tendencies of Tony Stark.
In the comics, she works with both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, which means she just might be the linchpin to the Marvel universe when those two teams eventually have to come together to battle one big enemy. (Read a full explainer of Captain Marvel’s origin and powers here.)
Brie Larson’s roles in Trainwreck and 21 Jump Street often had her playing the straight woman to comedians like Amy Schumer or Jonah Hill. But they did prove she can snark with the best of them. She’ll be able to hold her own among, say, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt.
Room and indie film Short Term 12 demonstrated the emotional depth she can bring to a character, an essential trait for Marvel’s films that strike a careful balance between drama and fun.
As far as the physical side of things, Larson said she put on 15 pounds of muscle training for Room, and she recently filmed Kong: Skull Island, where as a war photographer, she had to wrangle with the wild terrain of Vietnam and Australia and master the run-away-from-a-giant-ape sprint.
Perhaps most important, Larsons’ rapid ascent to stardom suggests that she can handle the pressure that comes with this role. In an age where about three superhero films are made a year, it’s been over a decade since a major studio has produced a female-led superhero film. Executives have long assumed that audiences, and especially male audiences, don’t want to see a woman kick butt. That’s begun to change with the success of films like The Hunger Games and characters like Black Widow from The Avengers and, more recently, Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad.
And now we’re finally getting female superhero movies with DC and Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman out next summer, and then with Captain Marvel. Both will be scrutinized more than any male superhero film to see if they have “mass appeal.”
During her press tour for Room, Larson spoke out about the lack of female stories on screen. Perhaps more important, she helped make an indie movie about an abused mother and her child popular enough to win an Oscar. That’s no small feat and speaks to her appeal as both a powerful actress and an advocate for her work.
She’s also been careful to choose robust roles—often in smaller films like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or Spectacular Now. That’s good preparation for Captain marvel, who is way more than a spandex suit. “The test that I always give young writers is if you can take out your female character and replace her with a sexy lamp and your plot still functions, you’re doing it wrong,” current Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick told TIME in 2014. Odds are that Larson will shine brighter than any sexy lamp ever could.
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