As ‘Captain Marvel’ passes $1 billion worldwide, its screenwriters form production company

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Brie Larson in a scene from “Captain Marvel.”

Marvel’s first female-centered superhero movie is the latest member of its billion-dollar club.

“Captain Marvel” last week official surpassed $1 billion in global ticket sales, becoming he seventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to reach the milestone, according to Variety.

The critical and commercial triumph of “Captain Marvel” follows the blockbuster success of “Wonder Woman,” DC Comic’s first female-led superhero film. That 2017 tentpole — starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins — generated a massive $841 million globally.

Starring Oscar winner Brie Larson, “Captain Marvel” joins the ranks of “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Black Panther,” “The Avengers,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and “Iron Man 3.” It also marks the 18th Disney movie to gross more than $1 billion.

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the introductory adventure of Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel has generated $358 million in North America, along with $645 million overseas. The 21 films in the MCU have collectively hauled $18.5 billion to date.

That means Kelly Sue DeConnick’s wish has come true. As Vanity Fair reports, the comic-book writer credited with shaping the current, beloved version of Captain Marvel had one very clear wish for the movie adaptation: “We live in a capitalist culture. What makes money is valued. I want this to make a lot of money, because it will change the way that people think about women. We could pretend we don’t live in a world where [that is true], but what’s the point?”

The groundbreaking success is busting down doors for the team that created “Captain Marvel,” and they’re joining forces to ensure that Carol Danvers isn’t the only woman’s story to fly higher, further and faster in the typically male-dictated world of action and genre stories, according to Vanity Fair.

Joanna Robinson reports that in the years it took for Marvel Studios to get Carol Danvers off the ground, several talented women were tapped to shape her specific origin story, one that not only established Captain Marvel’s place in the MCU, but also was based in gender-specific themes like gaslighting, imposter syndrome and the strength of female friendship.

In 2014, Marvel approached writer Nicole Perlman (“Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Detective Pikachu”), who went to work on figuring out “Captain Marvel’s” story with Meg LeFauve (“Inside Out”) throughout 2015 and 2016. Geneva Robertson-Dworet joined the project in June 2017, and worked for six months to fit the puzzle pieces together, along with Boden and  Fleck. Finally, DeConnick was brought in to consult during the last year of the project.

Five people—Perlman, LeFauve, Robertson-Dworet, Boden, and Fleck—have “story by” credits on the finished project. But Robertson-Dworet and Perlman said they have no interest in fussing over credits. Instead, they’ve joined forces—along with Lindsey Beer (“The Kingkiller Chronicle”)—to form a new production company called Known Universe that will focus, Perlman said, on combining the clout they’ve earned on past projects to “exponentially lift up storytellers and less heard voices.”

“We’ve frequently been tokenized as the one woman in the group,” Perlman said. “Instead of us being competitive with each other, we found ourselves banding together, sharing our experiences and our Rolodexes.”

Working in the male-dominated worlds of comic books and Hollywood blockbusters, all three women have stories about being shut up, shut down, pushed aside, pitted against each other, and isolated as the lone female in a room full of men.

“I remember one of the first pitches I went to,” said Robertson-Dworet, “I pitched on this action movie. My take was very dark, very violent, very aggressive, and the director just said, ‘Oh, I think I need a more muscular take.‘” Robertson-Dworet said she knew that was code for “more masculine.”

The success of both “Wonder Woman” and “Captain Marvel” means that DC, Marvel,and other studios are finally hustling to put forward more female-fronted comic-book films, according Variety Fair. Sony has several Spider-Women projects in the works, Jenkins reportedly more than tripled her salary when she was tapped to direct 2020’s “Wonder Woman 1984,” and star and producer Margot Robbie herself pushed for the Harley Quinn spin-off “Birds of Prey” have a woman helmer.

“One of the most violent but also fun and brilliant scripts I’ve read recently was Christina Hodson’s “Birds of Prey” draft,” Robertson-Dworet said. “Ten years ago, people would’ve said only a man would write this. That’s part of why we started the company, in order to open more doors to people who don’t look like the standard action-movie or genre writer.”

One of the goals for Known Universe is taking female characters like Captain Marvel beyond the tired archetype of “strong women.”

“We didn’t want her to just be Sylvester Stallone, but with breasts. We wanted her to be a strong woman, which, of course, led to wonderful conversations with Meg about what that means. We wanted to make sure that our version of what it meant to be powerful wasn’t just a hard, unyielding, never-emotional person,” Perlman said. “Meg and I don’t believe that that is what it means to be strong.”

Perlman just made her directorial debut with a festival-favorite short film, “The Slows.” Though DeConnick is not an official member of the Known Universe team, she and Robertson-Dworet just collaborated on a “Gal Gadot action movie”—though they didn’t say if that was the same project as the female-fronted “Fast and the Furious” spin-off the Known Universe team is executive producing and writing. (Gadot’s character died in “Fast & Furious 6,” but she wouldn’t be in the first in the franchise to come back from the dead)

The Known Universe team is also working on an adaptation of “one of the greatest 20th-century novels,” they said, and a heist movie penned by a young writer, according to Vanity Fair, which means they’re definitely a group to keep an eye on for the future.

-BAM

 

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