- “Captain Marvel” directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck opened up about the advice “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler gave them and why false reports that they were in the running for the “Guardians of the Galaxy” job back in 2012 might have gotten them on the radar of Marvel executives.
- Boden and Fleck also addressed the internet trolls who have been writing negative reviews about the movie on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb.
If you think making a Marvel movie is a lot of pressure, try making the MCU’s first standalone female superhero movie.
That’s what filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck were up against when they signed on to make “Captain Marvel.” Known best for their work in the independent film space – like “Half Nelson,” which launched Ryan Gosling into stardom, the baseball drama “Sugar,” and the Ryan Reynolds/Ben Mendelsohn-starrer “Mississippi Grind” – the filmmakers had the chops to make an interesting Marvel movie. But could they make one that would live up to fan expectations for the first spotlight on a female Marvel character? (Yes, that’s pressure.)
Though “Captain Marvel” (in theaters Friday), which stars Oscar winner Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, is sporting an 82% Rotten Tomatoes score and tracking to perhaps have a record-breaking opening weekend at the box office, the movie has been bombarded online by internet trolls who have been purposely leaving negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb.
Business Insider chatted with the filmmakers to get their thoughts on the negativity directed toward the movie, what it’s been like to be inside the Marvel moviemaking factory, the advice they got from “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler, and why reports that they were being considered to take on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise back in 2012 (which the filmmakers say were false) may have helped get them on Marvel’s radar.
Jason Guerrasio: I read you were considered for “Guardians of the Galaxy” back when Marvel was launching that part of the MCU franchise. When you didn’t get the job did you think you missed your opportunity to make a Marvel movie?
Anna Boden: The truth is we were never considered for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It was misprinted. I think there was another directing team that had been considered. So what ended up happening is they printed that story and our agent called and was like, “Hey, what’s this?”
Guerrasio: “You guys are holding out on me.”
Boden: Yeah. And that might have actually been what made Marvel aware of us. Maybe in some weird way this is how we ended up getting this job years and years later.
Guerrasio: Well, tell me if this is accurate. It sounds like while you guys were going in multiple times to pitch “Captain Marvel” you called Ryan Coogler to get a sense if the way you guys were going about getting the job was right.
Ryan Fleck: Yeah. And I can’t remember specifically how much we actually would have changed, but it changed our mindset psychologically going into these pitches. We called Ryan, we all share the same agent, and he was prepping “Black Panther” then and he just let us know how much work this is and how much you really need to love the character to go down this road. So from that we just reminded ourselves, “Why do we want to make this movie?” “What’s special about this character for us to commit to it for two years?” So we just wanted to make sure to feel passionately about it. That’s not to say we weren’t before, but it motivated us.
Boden: In terms of not focusing on what they wanted to hear but focusing on what we wanted to say. Feeling that it’s okay if what we say isn’t what they want to hear because then we would end up not doing the movie and that’s okay.
Guerrasio: That might be an aspect people forget in the pitch process. Of course you want to be liked by them, but you should also make your creative needs be known.
Boden: Absolutely. And from there make sure it’s a good match. We just dated for a little while before we committed to each other. Guerrasio: One of the highlights of the movie for me is how you told Carol’s past. It’s done almost like “It’s A Wonderful Life” mixed with “The Conversation.” Was Marvel on board with this from the start? Because it was wild to see this done in an MCU movie.
Boden: It was in the script stage that we got on the same page. It wasn’t something that creatively came out of the edit. The concept was at the very beginning. It’s actually how we started getting involved in the writing process. We had talked about this idea in theory and then they weren’t sure it was going to work. We hadn’t been hired to be part of the writing process, but we still started putting our ideas down on paper, how we thought that particular sequence was going to unfold, and how the scenes could flow into each other and be surreal –
Fleck: It was baked into the structure of the movie. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was a big influence in that part.
Guerrasio: But even with it on page, was it hard to sell Marvel on it?
Fleck: They loved it.
Boden: It’s why they got us involved in the writing process.
Guerrasio: You need a certain kind of actor to pull off the Skrull character Talos, and Ben Mendelsohn was perfect. Was he already cast before you guys came on, or having already worked with him on “Mississippi Grind” did you guys suggest him to play the role?
Boden: It was just throwing out his name but immediately everybody was like, “Ah, yes!”
Fleck: We didn’t have to convince many folks at Marvel. They were totally on board.
Boden: But our pitch was basically like this guy is a chameleon, he can play two roles in the movie. We have him do his Australian accent for one and his American accent for the other and there you go. And people were really excited about that.
Guerrasio: But was Ben excited about it?
Boden: He was. We had to sell him a little because he likes to be pursued. [Laughs.] Like we all do.
Guerrasio: When I talk to indie filmmakers who have done a big studio movie a lot of times they say it’s the size of production that’s the big “wow” moment for them. Was it the same for you guys?
Fleck: I think it was more daunting in prep when we would go visit the “Infinity War” set. That was one of those moments where we didn’t have the script yet for our movie so we were still on uneven ground and you’re looking at this colossal production down in Atlanta where they were also shooting reshoots for “Thor: Ragnarok,” they were also prepping “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and it just felt like this big movie factory and we were like, “What did we get ourselves into?” [Laughs.] But it was all super cool because we felt like little kids roaming around. We had lunch –
Boden: Oh, yeah [Laughs.]
Fleck: We had it in this cafeteria where people from all the different movies were having meals, and the actors were all in their costumes from their movies eating. It was like being on an old-timey studio lot.
Boden: My weird “pinch me” moment going down there was visiting the amazing special effects warehouse. They were 3D printing so many of the props for the movies. We went around the warehouse where 10 3D printers are going and at the time they were making this huge prop for “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” There were all these alien guns. My mind was totally blown.
Guerrasio: What has it been like observing how riled up people have gotten over this movie that they haven’t seen yet? Specifically the trolls who were giving the movie a negative score on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.
Fleck: It’s pretty crazy, but it’s all good because the thing is people care about these characters and people care about this movie, even if caring about it means they have to go trolling online. It means they care enough to take the time to do that. So it’s fun for us because we have never made a movie where people besides our parents are amped to see it.
Boden: It’s nice to make a movie that has such a clear delineation that it’s theirs. It’s the audiences’ at the end of the day. People are going to love it, people are going to hate it, it will be everything. But it’s theirs.
Fleck: Mostly love it. [Laughs.]