The newest addition to Captain Marvel 2 — now known as The Marvels (2023) — has finally spoken out on her new role and the overall experience of nabbing her first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) gig.
The English actress Zawe Ashton (Velvet Buzzsaw), is currently cast in an undisclosed role for 2023’s upcoming Captain Marvel (2019) sequel — although we now know that she is set to play The Marvels’ main villain alongside Brie Larson as Carol Danvers (aka Captain Marvel herself), Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau (whom we last saw in 2021’s WandaVision) and other Marvel Studios newcomer Iman Vellani (Kamala Khan) of Disney+ Ms. Marvel fame.
Based on a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Ashton hadn’t even known herself that the casting had already become public knowledge.
Ashton has been in recent news as Tom Hiddleston’s (Loki) fiancée, and earlier this week it was confirmed that she was pregnant, together with the Loki (2021) star and Marvel veteran’s first child, after Vogue revealed a behind-the-scenes look at a red carpet event for Mr. Malcolm’s List (2022), which Ashton attended.
Coming off from this big reveal last Wednesday, Ashton admitted to Vanity Fair that the lead villain role in the upcoming MCU feature film The Marvels came to her rather unexpectedly — as she had actually been planning to step away from acting.
Opening up about where she’d originally thought she was headed, Ashton said:
“I didn’t see the pendulum swinging hard enough and thought my time can be better spent behind a computer or potentially behind a camera. I went unrepresented for a while. While I was on Broadway, I really cleared the decks. I needed to reenter the business in a very new way.”
Ashton herself is of mixed Ugandan-English heritage, and revealed how being adamant in wanting to support first-time female directors of color led to her next big role in The Marvels:
“I [told] my team that I wanted to be of service to first-time female directors. Specifically, first-time female directors of color. Don’t throw me into a bunch of auditions. Set me up with Zooms where I can understand how I, in the sea of people that they might want to choose, can help to understand them or enable them.”
This rather different approach to getting cast eventually (and organically) caused her to stumble into the Captain Marvel sequel’s lead villain role. Speaking on her relationship with The Marvels‘ director Nia DaCosta, Ashton said:
“One of the first people that I was set up on a Zoom with was Nia DaCosta, and we vibed really hard. Actually, we really geeked out on Jane Austen and Persuasion. She’s such an unbelievably intellectual and intelligent woman […]
We signed off after a couple of hours going, let’s do something, even if it costs like five [cents] to make. Then [later] she called and asked if I would do her new movie. I was like, yeah, absolutely! Where are we [going]? In the backwaters of somewhere? How small is the budget? And it was this follow-up to Captain Marvel, which had not been on my radar at all. [Laughs.] The expectation was just to fulfill Nia’s vision.”
Ashton had inadvertently found her way into one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest upcoming blockbusters, playing opposite Brie Larson — all helmed by her new friend DaCosta.
She continues to describe her time with the Captain Marvel franchise, and with Marvel Studios movies in general, commenting on how her perception and level of respect for the MCU films have changed:
“I honestly have had the best time doing it. I genuinely have. My respect for everyone involved in these movies has gone through the roof, in a very nuanced way.”
The Captain Marvel sequel directed by Nia DaCosta seems set to focus on highlighting many more female diverse voices — as Marvel seems to maintain a vested interest in showcasing these types of stories — like with Ms. Marvel, which revolved largely around the main character’s Pakistani-Muslim immigrant experience. This time around, Ashton definitely seems excited to sink her teeth into her new role as The Marvels‘ main antagonist.
We’re certainly eager to see The Marvels and how this new Captain Marvel rival stacks up against other villainous MCU greats such as Thanos (Josh Brolin) and even Ashton’s fiancé’s Loki — and also, how this new villain might play into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe canon.
What do you think of The Marvels as a Captain Marvel sequel? Are you excited about the movie? Share your thoughts in the comments down below!
The Marvels is slated to release in theaters on July 28, 2023, as part of Marvel Studios’ lineup of Phase Four films, such as (this week’s!) Thor: Love and Thunder, November 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and even (though far on the horizon), Fantastic Four in 2024.
Continuing on from 2019’s Captain Marvel, though now set in present day instead of the ’90s, The Marvels will follow Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as the titular Captain Marvel, as she teams up with Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who is the daughter of Danvers’ late best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), as well as Ms. Marvel’s Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) — as they attempt to thwart Zawe Ashton’s as-of-yet-unnamed villain.
Also set to join The Marvels cast is returning Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Kamala Khan’s family, brother Amir Khan (Saagar Shaikh), mother Muneeba Khan (Zenobia Shroff) and father Yusuf Khan (Mohan Kapur). South-Korean actor Park Seo-joon has also been cast in an undisclosed role.