FEATURE: Why Niki Caro Is The Smart Hire To Direct ‘Captain Marvel’

Jun 5, 2016

The Hollywood Reporter revealed over the week that directors Jennifer Kent and Niki Caro are on a list of potential directors for Marvel’s Captain Marvel, which might star recent Oscar winner Brie Larson as Carol Danvers. I’ve been hearing for ages that Marvel is looking for a writer-director to tackle Captain Marvel, both candidates fit that bill as they’ve written features they’ve directed.

However, I feel like Kiwi director Niki Caro to me is more of the standout and might be more of the prestige hire. After the hiring of Ryan Coogler for Black Panther, we should expect to see more directors involved with Oscar nominated projects being looked at.

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The Whale Rider seemingly is the best example of a project that echoes elements of the Carol Danvers story slightly, as a young girl has to break with tradition to become the first female chief of a Maori tribe, Danvers a female pilot in the Air Force. The film was also Oscar nominated, with Keisha Castle-Hughes landing her first and only Best Actress nomination.

Caro also adapted the novel into the screenplay, so we know she has talent in writing as well.

This wasn’t the last time one of her films would get an Oscar nomination, as North Country would earn Charlize Theron a Best Actress nomination and Frances McDormand a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Oddly enough, Theron had been rumored for ages to be in the mix and has fan support to play Danvers. Hawkeye’s Jeremy Renner was also in the film.

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The prestige angle might be needed considering how important the film is to Marvel being the first female-driven movie, they’d have to possibly attempt to match Wonder Woman‘s Patty Jenkins‘ equally impressive prestige background with Monster. Keep in mind, Jenkins had once been attached to direct Thor: The Dark World before her exit over creative differences” lead her to eventually make Wonder Woman instead. It’s possible Marvel wants another female director on that kind of level.

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Connecting these two leads to Carol Danvers isn’t hard to see, a woman facing an uphill battle in a profession seen as strictly for men (military and superhero leader). It’ll be interesting to see if Marvel will attempt to pursue Danvers as a combat pilot, and how her strong military background factors into the film along with being a superhero with cosmic powers and leadership skills.

I potentially see the film being a mix between G.I. Jane meets Top Gun, a modern military flick within the superhero genre, and it’s important the character side of the film is full of depth, which I feel Niki is able to handle.

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Niki recently made the upcoming WWII era drama The Zookeeper’s Wife, which stars Jessica Chastain and Civil War‘s Daniel Bruhl. I’m unsure how much action would be apart of the film, but I think having the military element of Zookeeper’s Wife could also help her chances as well. It also looks like another film that could end-up getting some awards consideration later in the year, another reason that hiring Caro might be tempting to Marvel.

The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion.

Chastain had been linked for the villain role in Iron Man 3 and the Hope role in Ant-Man, she was yet another fan-favorite to play Captain Marvel.

Niki’s ability as a screenwriter, prestige with her previous films landing acting Oscar nominations, her strong character depth in her features and being the type of director that could branch-out to the superhero genre makes her an excellent overall candidate, along with being the standout of the two named.

This doesn’t mean I’d be upset if Jennifer Kent landed the gig, it just looks on paper that Caro has more of what I feel Marvel would need for a project like this.

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