Marvel; Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
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March 01, 2018 at 04:33 PM EST

With just over a year until Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel hits theaters, the film’s screenwriter is revealing details on the tone of the superhero project that will finally disrupt the MCU boy’s club of male-driven standalone features.

Captain Marvel screenwriter Geneva Robertson-Dworet, currently prepping for the March 16 release of Warner Bros.’ Tomb Raider reboot, tells EW the final Captain Marvel script exists in part thanks to the time she spent honing her refreshing take on the origin story of pop cultural icon Lara Croft. While the first draft of the Alicia Vikander-starring video game adaptation centered on a comedically tinged version of Croft as a teenager, the Oscar-winning actress ultimately sought a more personal edge for the origin story as she tapped deeper into the character’s roots, and thus inspired Robertson-Dworet to take the film to new dramatic heights in further versions of the script.

“The mandate I got when I first signed on to the project was that we were doing something much more in the tone of sort of…. a fun action-comedy,” she remembers. “My original Lara was very sassy, and then, over the subsequent drafts as Alicia gained more creative control, she wanted it to be much more serious.”

“Women in the industry—especially actresses—are finding their voice in the creative process,” Robertson-Dworet explains. “A lot of the dialogue is [Alicia’s], a lot of the tone is decided by what she wanted and how she saw the characters and saw the movie. I really do feel like it’s her movie in terms of tracking women in the industry. We live at an exciting time where an actress is able to take the reins like that…. I think that kind of empowerment for actresses is exciting.”

With a well of creative inspiration left over from her first stab at Tomb Raider, Robertson-Dworet began weaving her ideas into the fabric of Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel has a very funny voice, and it’s more of an action-comedy, more like what we were talking about doing in the first draft I wrote for Tomb Raider…. [but] that tone survived in Captain Marvel,” she explains, noting that her work on Tomb Raider began in the fall of 2015, well before she boarded the MCU project. “I love funny female characters, so as Tomb Raider got more serious, I got even more committed to the idea of Captain Marvel being hilarious.”

But she wants fans to know that her interpretation of the character is rooted in the DNA of the Captain Marvel comics: “That’s not just me inventing that,” she continues. “Carol Danvers is one of the funniest comic book characters. She’s so sassy, she’s such a smartass, she won’t take sh— from anyone, and the comic books do an amazing job at capturing that voice, and it was important that the entire Captain Marvel creative team [kept to that].”

That process was enhanced, she says, thanks to Marvel’s dedication to tasking female voices with telling Danvers’ story. She specifically credits Captain Marvel co-director Anna Boden, the MCU’s first female director, who helms alongside her Half Nelson and Mississippi Grind collaborator Ryan Fleck. 

Certainly we were writing after Wonder Woman had come out. We already saw one example of what a superheroine looked like on screen,” Robertson-Dworet says. “So we wanted to carve our own path and make sure we weren’t retreading the same territory, and showing all facets of what women are capable of.”

Specific plot details are still under wraps, though it is known that Captain Marvel will take place in the mid-1990s. Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. spymaster Nick Fury, and Humans actress Gemma Chan was recently announced in the role of Doctor Minnerva, a.k.a. Minn-Erva, a Kree geneticist from the alien race who serves as a primary antagonist in the Captain Marvel comics.

Jude Law is reportedly set to play the male lead opposite Larson. At the time of Larson’s casting in Captain Marvel‘s titular role, the Academy Award-winning Room star was to be the first woman playing a title character in a Marvel Studios film. Ant-Man and the Wasp‘s Evangeline Lilly will beat her to the punch, however, as that film lands July 6.

“I’m hoping that sassy, funny superhero [in the film] is something people haven’t seen before, and that they’re going to be excited to see in Carol Danvers,” Robertson-Dworet finishes. “A lot of the great Captain Marvel comic books really broke ground with Carol Danvers’ voice, and that’s something we want to continue with the movie.”

Captain Marvel is currently slated for theatrical release on March 8, 2019. Tomb Raider bows this March 16.

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