Why ‘Captain Marvel’ Is Set in the ’90s, According to Producer

Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers gives the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe its first female-led blockbuster, so it’s fitting that the Air Force pilot-turned-superhero emerges in the ‘90s — at a time when the MCU was light not only on superheroines, but lacking super-powered injustice fighters as a whole, says producer Jonathan Schwartz.

“It’s giving Carol a place in the cinematic universe that she can carve out for her own, where she wasn’t one superheroine out of many,” Schwartz told EW of the decision to set Captain Marvel in the mid-‘90s.

Carol is, of course, preceded by Captain America (Chris Evans), who operated during World War II and was on ice through the new millennium, and the duo of Ant-Man (Michael Douglas) and Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer), a pairing that ended in tragedy in the late ‘80s. Having Carol debut in the ‘90s not only freed up the ever-expanding MCU, it allowed the filmmakers to turn to classic films of the era for inspiration.

“’90s action movie is not the worst reference in the world, especially when you start looking at Robocop, Total Recall, even Starship Troopers a little bit,” Schwartz said. “Terminator 2, Independence Day. There’s a high-concept action-movie feel there that ends up being very character-based but also super badass, which is kind of the bullseye we wanted to hit.”

That pre-2000s setting further allows for appropriate references of the era, already glimpsed by the rock-and-roll T-shirts sported by Carol, who has been seen repping Nine Inch Nails and Guns N’ Roses.

“The ‘90s doesn’t feel that long ago to us because we’re really old,” said Anna Boden, who directs with Ryan Fleck. “But doing this movie has really made us realize how out of date so much stuff from the ‘90s actually is, and we’ve been having a lot of fun with that.”

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Danvers won’t be the only hero introduced in Captain Marvel: the Marvel Studios blockbuster will act as the earliest appearance of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), bringing audiences a Fury origin story and a near-unrecognizable iteration of the future S.H.I.E.L.D. director, who has yet to adopt his jaded attitude or encounter the kind of extraterrestrial threats he navigated in The Avengers.

Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn, Gemma Chan, Lee Pace, Djimon Hounsou, Lashana Lynch, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, and Samuel L. Jackson, opens March 8, 2019.