How Brie Larson Went From Being Inactive To Becoming Captain Marvel


Brie Larson was hanging upside down and suspended by her legs when she was about to attempt one of her most challenging Captain Marvel stunts for the first time on set.

It had already been a long day by the time the 29-year-old actress was dangling by a wire system.

She had filmed other scenes for hours, dashed to a costume fitting and promptly returned to squeeze in this inverted rehearsal before shooting the sequence later that week.

“I remember building up to this moment – if we were going to allow her to do it, if she was going to have enough strength and confidence to get past it,” fight coordinator and assistant stunt coordinator Walter Garcia said.

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Yet, as planned, Larson perfectly executed the stunt fall. She dropped four feet, flipped 180°, and landed on her hands and feet.

“There was just an outburst from the whole team,” remembered Garcia.

“It was a special moment for not only the team to see her do it, but for her to build herself up to get to that point,” he said.

“Because months before that, she would never consider doing anything like that.”

It’s true. Before the Oscar winner was cast as one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe, Larson was “never particularly active”, she admitted.

Despite not being able to do a push-up or pull-up at the start of her training, she achieved her goal of performing most of her own stunts for one of the most anticipated movies of the year.

So how did Larson gain superhero strength – and how can you?

Here’s a guide to train like a noble Kree warrior hero based on the star’s nine-month training plan – a process that helped her “get in touch with my body and strength, physically and mentally, in a way that I had never allowed myself to”, Larson said.

Warning: Use caution before trying any of these advanced moves at home.

Set an appropriate goal

Larson’s initial inspiration was not a fellow superhero actor, but Emily Blunt in the 2014 scifi movie Edge of Tomorrow.

She actually tracked down Blunt’s trainer, Jason Walsh, and asked him to help her.

His first piece of advice? Don’t get caught up in achieving a certain look.

Focus on building your strength and the aesthetics will come later, said Walsh. (Blunt’s training was also focused on building strength, as she had to safely wear an exoskeleton costume on her back that weighed about 70 pounds or 32kg.)

“The aesthetic thing to me is the easiest part,” Walsh explained. “I could work with someone for two weeks and put them on a diet.

“They would look great, but do you really think that they would hold up? There’s much more to being strong than just muscular.”

He added: “The goal was to get Brie psychologically as strong as she was physically, because I knew what that was going to do for her character.

“Nothing feels as good as being strong.”

Make a timeline

Walsh, who trained Emma Stone for La La Land, Alison Brie for GLOW and Bradley Cooper for American Sniper, turns down more work than he takes on due to time-frame issues.

He often gets requests from studios to train actors “to be in top shape” with just a few weeks’ notice.

“There are a lot of performance-enhancement drugs out there, because unfortunately, these studios have unachievable goals for people in a short amount of time,” Walsh said.

“They put a lot of pressure on these actors to look a certain way, and they don’t give the kind of time that it takes.”

Here’s how Larson did it safely, which gives you an idea of how long it would take a mere mortal to get into truly elite shape:

1-3 months: Foundational training before filming Avengers: Endgame.

3-6 months: Training continues during the filming of Avengers: Endgame, back and forth between Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Walsh noted: “This was more of a maintenance thing. You don’t want to train people super hard when they’re shooting 14- to 16-hour days.”

6-9 months: Focused Captain Marvel training, with two months of technical work for stunts and fights.

So ask yourself: How much time do I have? Is my goal achievable with what I’m trying to acquire?

That’s how Walsh approached Larson’s workout plan after consulting with her, the studio and the stunt teams.

Captain Marvel, Brie Larson, Avengers, Marvel Cinematic Universe, fitness, training, strength, role preparation, Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow,

It was Blunt’s role as Rita, seen here in a scene from Edge of Tomorrow, that inspired Larson in her training for Captain Marvel. — TNS

Develop a skill

Now that you’ve improved your physical fitness, challenge yourself to try a new technique.

That’s how Larson was able to complete most of her own stunts, with the help of stuntwomen Joanna Bennett and Renae Moneymaker doubling for her in a number of scenes.

For the final two months of training, Larson worked two to three hours a day for five days a week, on top of her continued personal training, to develop authentic fighting techniques.

She focused on footwork, stance, and a variety of fight choreography, including kickboxing, judo and wrestling.

“We really wanted to make her powerful and not very dainty, with fluidness like (Marvel heroines) Wasp or Black Widow,” Garcia said of the fighting styles he taught her.

“We wanted her to have more of a rugged kind of feel to the character so that you really feel the strength when she’s fighting.”

Prioritise your mental health

Remember that inverted stunt mentioned earlier?

That would not have been possible had Larson not maintained her mental health, asserted her trainers.

Their advice is to meditate or develop a mantra to push through tough days. As for Larson and her stunt team, they developed the motto, “This is why we train.”

That mental grit was key, said Garcia.

“By the time we got to the stage that maybe would be the most challenging, she was able to mentally, physically and emotionally handle these things with an aggressive grace.”

Celebrate how far you’ve come

Looking back at her intense training, Larson reflected, “Using my body as a tool that can do incredible things was the beginning of unlocking myself and unlocking who Captain Marvel is as well.”

Walsh agreed, explaining that their work in the gym was crucial for her character-building.

“I think that just goes hand in hand with a superhero,” he said.

“Especially in the beginning when they’re figuring out what their superpowers are, like ‘I can what? I can do this? I can do that?’ It’s very much in line with that.”

And proving that the aesthetics come when you put in the work, costume designer Sanja Milkovic Hays had to take in Larson’s costume multiple times as the actress got leaner.

She made more than five suits, but the adjustments were worth it.

“Because she was so strong, she really moved like a superhero. If you’re not as strong as she is, (the costume) doesn’t look right,” Hays said.

Have fun

Prepping for Captain Marvel wasn’t all done in the gym.

“I do think it’s important to say that it took a nutritionist, two different trainers, a paleo meal delivery service, a lot of mozzarella sticks, and a lot of sleep and water,” Larson said.

Doughnuts and all. – Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

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