Captain Marvel made the history books in 2019 when it became the first ever female superhero movie to take more than a billion dollars at the box office. And Brie Larson’s meticulously-designed outfits were undoubtedly integral to its success. Here’s a look at 20 things you never knew about Carol Danvers’ iconic look — and the changes they had to make to it for the big screen.
20. Each Starforce character has a different star design
In 2019 Marvel Studios’ Director of Visual Development, Andy Park, gave an interview to BuzzFeed about Captain Marvel’s costume design. And the man who’s helped to put together outfits for the Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Nebula revealed that there was something particularly unique about her uniform’s star. In fact, there’s something particularly unique about each member of the Starforce team’s star.
That’s right: every character within Starforce has a different star design. Korath and At-lass are blessed with a bat-like take on the shape, while Bron-Char’s could be mistaken for a tree. Minn-Erva, Yon-Rogg and Vers all have variations on the traditional star shape, as does the leading lady herself.
19. The character’s famous sash wasn’t deemed practical
If you’ve ever wondered why Captain Marvel doesn’t don her famous comic-book sash on the big screen, then wonder no more. This wasn’t a case of the design team simply forgetting to include the band of material. They just didn’t believe it would be the most practical sartorial choice for a super-agile superhero.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Park explained, “The reason why she has a sash in the comics, is because comic books are a 2D medium. So, it looks cool — just like having a cape — when someone’s flying you can have it whipping around. But, just like how Edna in The Incredibles says, “No capes!” because it’s impractical, we did not include the sash.”
18. The triangles are meant to represent strength
Captain Marvel’s iconic outfit is adorned with a host of triangles. But this isn’t just for symmetrical purposes: it’s intended to represent the character’s inner strength. The triangle is deemed by many mathematicians and scientists to be much stronger than the circle, square and any other kind of shape.
In his interview with BuzzFeed, Andy Park said, “Captain Marvel or better yet, Carol Danvers, is all about strength. Not from her powers she was given, but the strength she’s always had as a girl, as a young cadet in the military, as a member of Starforce, and as Captain Marvel… So I wanted to create as many triangle shapes within her costume as I could to help reinforce that strength starting, of course, with the star.”
17. There were 10 different costumes made
Marvel’s visual development team certainly have their work cut out for them every time a new superhero movie goes into production. For each major character typically needs 10 different variations of the same main costume. And Park told BuzzFeed that this is a process that can last “many, many months.”
So why exactly do the designers need to work overtime when creating wardrobes for the likes of Captain Marvel? Well, they all need a “hero” version which is typically made from metal. The characters also require costumes that can be worn on a harness and that have been visibly damaged through battle scenes.
16. Two different design teams are involved
Considering the months of preparation that goes into each character’s costume, it’s no surprise to learn that two different teams are responsible. Those parts needing softer material are created by Sanja Milkovic Hays and her group of costume designers. The harder armored outfits are constructed by the Film Illusions company run by Russ Shinkle.
But as Park explained to BuzzFeed, problems can still arise no matter how many people are working on an outfit. “You can make a costume that looks great like this,” he said, standing with his arms by his side to demonstrate. “But the moment your arms come up, the costume wrinkles and it looks horrible. So, you have to balance all that and it’s not as easy as it looks.”
15. The colors symbolize her character
The color scheme of Captain Marvel’s signature outfit is taken from the relaunch of the character’s comic book series in 2012. Jamie McKelvie was the man tasked with giving her a makeover in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s reboot. And his choice of primary colors — blue, gold and red — is seen as the perfect encapsulation of the character’s boldness.
As Park explained to BuzzFeed, “The theme of the movie is her always getting up — as a little girl and as an adult she was told she can’t do this or that. So when she becomes Captain Marvel, it’s her fully embracing who she is, who she’s always been — she’s always been bold, she’s always been strong.”
14. Her outfit is in line with Captain America’s
The Marvel Studios films are renowned for tying in with each other like no other franchise before. See the impossibly star-studded Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing movie of all time, for proof. So it stands to reason that the designers of Captain Marvel’s outfit would look to her male equivalent’s for inspiration.
Yes, in his fascinating chat with BuzzFeed in 2019, Marvel’s Andy Park revealed that Captain Marvel’s costume is very much in keeping with Captain America’s iconic uniform. Obviously, they both share a somewhat similar military design. But perhaps most notably, they also both have stars placed prominently on their chests.
13. Color isn’t the only difference between the Captain Marvel and Starforce suit
Captain Marvel’s outfit famously changes to her signature bold red, blue and gold from the dark green she sports while teaming up with the rest of the Starforce. But the shift in color isn’t the only difference. Park told BuzzFeed, “She loses a couple pieces on her suit — her stripes on her hips and the side leg armor right below that.”
Park went on to add, “When she changes her colors, I focused the amount of gold to be in choice areas to help focus the icon that she becomes. I didn’t just replace the silver with gold everywhere. It’s all subtle and barely noticeable but I wanted to create a more complex look for her military Starforce look while making her Captain Marvel look cleaner and sleeker.”
12. Her outfit has some extra golden metallic stripes
Eagle-eyed Marvel fans may have already spotted that Captain Marvel’s signature outfit has something else different from the one she wears while performing her duties as a member of the Starforce team. The star on her chest links to two metallic golden stripes. And according to Park, these are also of significance.
The visual development director went on to tell BuzzFeed that this design feature is a notable mark of individuality. He said, “It’s as if she’s promoted in rank, she’s earned her stripes so to speak. She’s Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, her own person/human. She’s no longer a Kree, part of the collective.”
11. Her outfit changes color for camouflage reasons
One of the most memorable moments of the big screen Captain Marvel is when the heroine assumes the red, gold and blue colors she’s famous for. But why was her outfit designed to change hues in the first place? Well, as with many of her costume’s features, it wasn’t purely for aesthetic purposes.
Yes, this color-switching ability can come in particularly useful whenever Captain Marvel is attempting to blend in with her surroundings. Park told BuzzFeed, “As they go on missions, they can change their color on the fly, for camouflage reasons.” He also revealed that this idea only came to him when he was in the process of designing the character’s Starforce outfit.
10. The Starforce’s costumes are designed to reflect their celebrity status
The members of the Starforce team are essentially as high profile in their Kree homeland as the Kardashians are in ours. And Park revealed in a 2019 interview with website Fashionista that their outfit design is deliberately intended to reflect their A-list status back home. He said, “In the similar vein of Captain America, the suit is a symbol that gives the Kree people hope and inspires them.”
And just like Kim, Khloe and the rest of the Kardashian dynasty, Captain Marvel and her Starforce crew aren’t afraid to fully embrace their fame. Park went on to add, “They’re not just trying to be stealthy and hidden. The suits have silver and a star. They have elements of… bling.”
9. Her outfit was inspired by the military
You might have already noticed that Captain Marvel tends to avoid wearing high heels when she’s busy trying to save the galaxy. Yes, just like the rest of her practical and proactive outfit, her boots have a very military feel. And Park told Fashionista that this is certainly no accident.
Park said that he wanted to find a “balance of that form-fitting bodysuit that is invoked in the comic books and bringing a military realism and a utilitarian suit into her Captain Marvel look.” To achieve this, he introduced armored features into her outfit. And the finished look was intended to resemble a “space suit that can endure rigors of space and battle.”
8. There were several costume adjustments due to Larson’s workouts
In 2019 costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays discussed several other attributes of the Captain Marvel costume in a chat with Vogue. And she revealed that one of the biggest challenges was adapting the outfit to star Brie Larson’s ever-changing body shape. Yes, the Oscar-winning actress sure put the design team through their paces thanks to the exhausting workout schedule she committed to for the film’s shoot.
Hays said, “She was working out like crazy — I’m so in awe of her. Her body was changing, as expected, so she was coming in repeatedly for fittings. Over the course of working out she was finding out more and more what her action scenes were going to be, and so we were making sure what we were doing would allow her to do certain things.”
7. It’s designed to embrace her gender without being overly sexual
The Croatian-born Hays was particularly proud of how Captain Marvel’s costume brings the female superhero into the modern age. “Her suit is strong and super-heroic, but still very feminine,” she told Vogue. And the costume designer hopes that her team’s work can help to inspire many female viewers to embrace their inner strength.
Hays continued, “It was a conscious decision to not just make her a gorgeous, beautiful thing but instead make her costume part of her attitude. She’s a girl with an attitude and rightfully so; she has nothing to prove. It’s a very modern concept for a female superhero. Hopefully a lot of young women can relate to that.”
6. Her street look was inspired by the rock scene
The industrial electronica of Trent Reznor and co. proved to be a major inspiration when it came to deciding Carol Danvers’ streetwear. As you may recall, Captain Marvel’s alter-ego chooses a T-shirt emblazoned with Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails logo when she hits planet earth. And her flannel shirt and baggy jeans complete the early ‘90s alternative look.
In her chat with Vogue, Hays explained why Captain Marvel and Nine Inch Nails were deemed to be such a good fit. She said, “It had to be period, but it had to be attractive to the audience today. She’s a pilot and a tomboy, so what would a young woman like that wear? And she’s a big rock‘n’roll girl. So, a combination of rock‘n’roll and grunge was obviously the way to go.”
5. Larson wore a bald cap
Avengers: Endgame’s behind-the-scenes team will certainly be hoping that you didn’t spot this particular costume secret during the film itself. But they weren’t afraid to reveal all for a DVD extra. In a making of featurette, actress Brie Larson is shown in front of a green screen wearing a bald cap.
Of course, this is because Captain Marvel has to sport two drastically different hairstyles in the star-studded blockbuster. That’s right: alongside her signature lengthy blond do, the character is also seen with a much shorter cut. Thankfully for Larson, the green screen trickery meant that she didn’t have to lop off her locks for real.
4. Her bomber jacket was intended to be inherited from her grandfather
That brown leather bomber jacket you see Carol Danvers wearing at the end of Captain Marvel? Well, it’s supposed to have a history that stretches back to before she was born. As Hays explained to Yahoo in 2019, “We took this brown ‘40s jacket… you know the way in the ‘40s, how pilots had their plane’s insignia or artwork on their backs… The artwork that was on their backs would be something cartoony, but in her case it was a fighter plane.”
Hays continued, “The idea was that possibly that jacket had been from her grandfather, or something like that. Like she has something that’s in the family, like a vintage ‘40s jacket that had been passed down from her grandfather. Obviously that never ended up in the story, and ultimately wasn’t necessary, but it was one of those things that made it a little bit more interesting. It gives her history.”
3. Brie Larson refused to wear Captain Marvel’s bathing suit
Brie Larson appeared to have been pretty game when it came to her superhero character’s various costumes. But there was one classic Captain Marvel outfit that she unequivocally refused to sport for the movie. And after reading Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige’s explanation to The Hollywood Reporter, you can understand why.
Feige said, “If you look at the comics, the further you go back, the less clothes Carol Danvers seems to be wearing. Oftentimes it’s a one-piece bathing suit basically, with outrageous comic proportions… Brie pointed it out on the wall, and we went, ‘Yeah… just so you know, that’s not what we’re doing.’ She goes, ‘OK. I didn’t think so, but I’m glad you said that.’”
2. Larson needed half an hour to get into the costume
There’s little doubt that Brie Larson went easy on the soda during the filming of Captain Marvel. For it took half an hour and much assistance to help her to fit into the costume each time. The actress told website Games Radar in 2019, “It makes going to the bathroom a bit of a thing — it’s a team of five people just for me to go to the bathroom.”
But on the other hand, that made it all the rewarding when Larson was finally able to get out of the outfit. She continued, “That was the part that, when the movie was done, I was the most excited about. I was like, ‘I can go to the bathroom by myself! I don’t need to make an announcement.”
1. The costume was itchy
As well as having to try and limit her toilet breaks every time she put on a specially-designed costume, Brie Larson also had to deal with another problem. While being interviewed by the official Disney fan club, D23, in 2019, the actress couldn’t stop pulling at her Starforce outfit’s collar. “It’s very, very itchy,” Larson admitted.
Thankfully all the scratching appeared to be worth it. Discussing her role as Captain Marvel, Larson added, “It’s been the most range I’ve ever played a character. I’ve had to go through every emotion possible with her. It has great comedy, there’s also real depth and emotion, which for me, that’s what I want. I want to see complicated female characters. I want to see myself, which is not a simple person.”