The military-Marvel relationship has waxed and waned over the years, but 2019’s Captain Marvel was a high point – a billion dollar blockbuster that served to attract more young female recruits and promote the forthcoming sixth branch of the US military: Space Force. Over the years I have collected a large quantity of documents on Captain Marvel, so ahead of this weekend’s podcast I thought I’d post them all.
The full story of the DOD and US Air Force involvement on Captain Marvel is coming on the next episode of ClandesTime, but the short version goes like this: In the summer of 2017 several Marvel producers went on an Air Force-sponsored tour of Space Command, as part of a broader effort to promote space-based conflict through movies. This included both of the co-directors of Captain Marvel and two producers who were working on the film, so I said this was the rebirth of the military-Marvel connection. Shortly afterwards, the PR roll out between Marvel Studios and the Air Force began, confirming my suspicions.
I filed FOIA requests with the DOD and the Air Force, both of which bore fruit. A massive cache of documents from the Air Force laid out much of the relationship with the film-makers behind Captain Marvel, which included several internal entertainment liaison office assessments of the project’s themes and recruitment capabilities. Along with the DOD reports covering this period, they show that the US military were involved all the way from pre-production, through filming and onto the movie’s release and promotional efforts. It is a true example of full spectrum dominance over a Hollywood production.
Highlights from the documents include:
- Confirmation that the relationship began at the 2017 Space Force tour.
- Details of Brie Larson et al visiting Air Force bases as early as December that year.
- How these research trips and contact with Air Force pilots such as Jeannie Leavitt ‘positively impacted character development and storylines’.
- The themes in the film that got the Air Force so excited, e.g. ‘Captain Marvel may be fiction but her story represents generations of real women who broke through barriers to serve their nation in air, space, and cyberspace’.
- The day before the premiere, “Air Force hosted the co-directors at the Pentagon” where Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck “attended office calls and had lunch with Air Force leaders. They also participated in a personal development session” for public affairs officers from the US military.
US Military Documents on Captain Marvel (2019)