Marvel may just have snapped up one of Hollywood’s best character actors for its highly anticipated woman-led superhero film.
Ben Mendelsohn may be joining Captain Marvel in a villainous capacity, The Wrap has learned.
Mendelsohn will reportedly play the leader of the Skrulls, an alien race of shapeshifters, and go up against Brie Larson‘s Carol Danvers. Captain Marvel is going historical (ish), following the footsteps of predecessors like Captain America: The First Avenger, and will be a prequel to Iron Man, set definitively in the 1990s. The film will also mark Samuel L. Jackson‘s return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nick Fury; this time, sans eyepatch. Captain Marvel will be directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, best known for Half Nelson and Mississippi Grind. Originally penned by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve, the film was most recently rewritten by Geneva Robertson-Dworet, who also wrote the upcoming Tomb Raider.
It’s no secret that Marvel has a villain problem. Marvel’s bad guys just aren’t terribly interesting despite those movies landing some of the most prominent names in the industry. The thought of Mendelsohn falling through the cracks like Christopher Eccleston did is honestly rather sad. Some of Marvel’s better villainous turns haven’t really been a single big bad, but something like a corrupt government organization in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Peter Quill’s inner demons in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 put more at stake than his actual planet of a father did. In dealing with a group as well-known as the Skrulls, there’s a bigger imperative for the studio to get this villain right.
At least Mendelsohn is already kind of a perfect choice: he’s usually playing villains or antiheroes. His recent film credits include starkly different projects like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the sexual abuse drama Una. He provided Kyle Chandler’s chilling counterpoint in the Netflix series Bloodline. Captain Marvel wouldn’t even be Mendelsohn’s first superhero rodeo after appearing in The Dark Knight Rises, although he played a rather ineffectual corporate goon who ended up getting choked by Tom Hardy. Being the leader of the Skrulls would be a million times cooler than that.
According to long-time producer Kevin Feige, Captain Marvel will play a big part in the future of the MCU, even if the company tends to remain mum about long-term goals. We only know the basics: that Marvel Studios is hard at work wrapping up Phase Three, which still has quite a number of movies on the docket anyway, and fans won’t be left wanting for the most part. However, Feige has mentioned a concerted interest to get Captain Marvel right and be the ideal focal point for the last couple of films in Marvel’s current phase.
“We’re really focusing on ‘Captain Marvel’ and the work that Anna and Ryan are doing. It’s going to be a big part of heading towards this epic conclusion and epic finale of 22 movies over the course of 10 years. That is focus for the next six movies we have to finish and get out.”
As Feige himself states, the MCU has been going on for a long time, and a woman-led superhero movie from the company is absolutely due, especially in a post-Wonder Woman era. If we’re to take Feige at his word at all, there will be way more women at the forefront of the universe post-Phase Three (we hope we can take his word for it. Nobody ever got a Black Widow movie).
Mendelsohn’s involvement in Captain Marvel will be but a little piece of a very intriguing, vital puzzle. It’s even highly likely that he won’t sport a ridiculous moustache like David Thewlis did in Wonder Woman (even… in the flashback scenes…). Which is exciting enough on its own.