Alright, sports fa… er, comics fans! Time for a fan-casting exercise, and our honoree this time is Carol Danvers, aka Marvel’s current Captain Marvel. (The original was a Kree warrior who I’ll say more about in a minute. The second was Monica Rambeau (aka Photon, Pulsar, Spectrum). The third was the first guy’s son. Thus, the “IV” for Danvers.) She has been garnering a lot of speculation, lately, what with her being the star of Marvel’s first female-led movie (scheduled release: Nov. 2, 2018). Naturally, I wanted to throw my two cents — or, maybe four cents? — into the discussion for who should be cast in the role. So,…
Captain Marvel IV
For those who need a brief rundown of Carol Danvers’ life, here ya go. Danvers was a top-performing Air Force cadet, who was recruited into Special Operations and trained as an intelligence operative (i.e., a “spy”). She even crossed the Black Widow on at least one occasion. Danvers’ stellar performance and reputation resulted in her getting a position with NASA as their youngest ever head of security, which also came with a promotion to Colonel. She met and befriended the Kree soldier, Captain Mar-Vell, who would later become known on Earth as the superheroic adventurer Captain Marvel. During a battle between Mar-Vell and his former commander, Yon-Rogg, Danvers was knocked into a damaged Kree Psyche-Magnitron. Her genetic structure was altered, effectively making her a half-Kree superhuman.
For various reasons, Danvers was demoted… twice… and finally resigned from NASA. She briefly worked as a writer and magazine editor. When her new powers (e.g., superstrength, speed, flight, concussive energy blasts from her hands, etc.) manifested themselves, Danvers adopted the name Ms. Marvel and a costume patterned after Mar-Vell’s. Over the years, Danvers joined the Avengers, lost her powers, survived a murder attempt by Rogue (who was still an “evil” mutant, at the time) and temporarily lost her memories, became the cosmically powered mutate called Binary, joined the space-faring band of adventurers known as the Starjammers, exhausted her cosmic energies to save the Sun, regained her Marvel-like powers and called herself Warbird, rejoined the Avengers, battled alcoholism, regained her confidence and some emotional stability, worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, led at least one version of the Avengers, and was dubbed “Captain Marvel” by the dying Mar-Vell (though she didn’t adopt the title for some time).
Danvers is an extremely capable — if headstrong — warrior and leader. She is very devoted to her friends (and her Flerkan cat) and considers Captain America a mentor and father-figure, probably partially due to their shared military backgrounds and partially due to his giving her the support and encouragement that her real father never did. Though not always drawn as such, Marvel’s wiki lists Danvers as 5’11”, so I think any actress that takes the part should be above average height — say, at least 5’9″. She is an attractive blonde, very physically fit, athletic, and trained in martial arts. Her age in a movie, of course, is dependent upon how closely it follows the comics version and when in her life she is introduced to the audience. If the story begins with her as a captain in the Air Force, she should be in her late-20s, I think. If she is already in her head-of-security position at NASA or later, then late-20s to early-30s seems appropriate. We might have to go with an actress who is actually in her mid-30s, but as long as she can pass for a few years younger, it should be fine.
When I first began thinking about fan-casting for Carol Danvers, I seriously considered Jennifer Morrison (5’5.25″,b.1979) of “Once Upon a Time” — that is, until I realized how short she is. I considered “Battlestar Galactica”‘s Katee Sackhoff (5’6″,b.1980), who is a fan-favorite, but she is also too short and, imho, doesn’t seem quite right for the part. When looking about for very physically fit candidates, MMA-fighter Ronda Rousey (5’6”,b.1987) came to mind. But, in addition to being on the short side and just barely old enough, I don’t think she has the acting chops to play a major character. Eventually, I started noticing fans of “Vikings” (which I haven’t watched) claiming Kathryn Winnick (5’6″,b.1977) would be perfect. She is an accomplished martial artist, with black belts in Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Well, she looks great and can handle the action, but she’s also on the short side and a tad older than we’d prefer. Ellen Hollman (5’7″,b.1983) of “Spartacus: War of the Damned” has the right look and is quite athletic, but she is also under our height parameter. With “Camelot”‘s Tamsin Egerton (5’10.5”,b.1988), I finally found someone who was tall enough, but she is actually a little too young (at the moment, anyway).
Never fear, though, for I did indeed find four statuesque beauties, all with the physical attributes, age requirements, and acting experience required to faithfully portray Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. They are…
Yvonne Strahovski (5’9.25″,b.1982) is both the youngest and the shortest of these candidates, and she is one of the top five (along with Winnick, Sackhoff, Emily Blunt, and Natalie Dormer) who I see others suggesting for this part. Everyone loved her as the gorgeous spy/girlfriend on “Chuck”, the mysterious murderess(?) on “Dexter”, and/or the federal agent pursuing-then-assisting Jack Bauer in “24: Live Another Day”. She has also starred in movies like Killer Elite and I, Frankenstein. She’s beautiful, smart, and can play a pretty convincing “action hero”. In essence, Strahovski seems a natural to portray the military officer-turned-superhero, Carol Danvers.
I think the first thing I saw Nicole Steinwedell (5’11”,b.1981) in was the late, lamented “The Unit”. She played a sergeant in the U.S. Army, attached to the Department of Defense’s Intelligence section. This was probably not much of a stretch, since Wikipedia tells us “Her grandfather was a colonel in the Army and her parents were both marines.” She has also appeared in shows like “White Collar”, “Breakout Kings”, and “NCIS”. But, it is Steinwedell’s personal background, not to mention her physical attributes, that make her a great candidate to play Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel.
Rachel Nichols (5’10”,b.1980) should be very familiar to genre fans. She first came to my attention playing a federal agent in the short-lived “The Inside”, then co-starring in the final season of “Alias”. She was in season 6 of “Criminal Minds”, and, of course, recently starred in “Continuum”. Meanwhile, she has appeared in several movies, including very minor roles (e.g., Star Trek) and starring roles (e.g., G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). (She also co-starred(?) with Steinwedell in Raze.) Nichols fits the look we need, often plays strong female characters, and could definitely nail this role.
Genre fans probably remember Kristanna Loken (5’11”,b.1979) as the “evil”, sexy T-X Terminator in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Before that, Loken appeared in such genre fare as “Aliens in the Family”, “Lois & Clark”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, and co-starred in “Mortal Kombat: Conquest”. After T3, she showed up in BloodRayne, In the Name of the King, “Painkiller Jane”, “Burn Notice”, Hunting the Phantom, and the recent Mercenaries. Though well into her mid-30s, Loken can easily pass for younger, and I think she has the physique and the action cred to pull off Danvers/Marvel.
Those are my picks for Marvel’s Captain Marvel, and I’d be thrilled with any of them, though I’m leaning toward Loken at the moment. Of course, they will all be 3 years older when the movie comes out, so that might knock a couple out of the running. Maybe Tamsin Egerton would work, after all. Or,…
What about you folks? Thoughts? Comments? Write ’em below….
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.