Update: One of the instructors who helped Brie Larson at Nellis was pilot Maj. Stephen “Cajun” Del Bagno, according to Larson’s Twitter account. Thunderbirds pilot Del Bagno died April 4 when his F-16 crashed at the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson paid a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada recently to research her next role: Air Force officer-turned-Avenger Captain Marvel.
Staff Sgt. Don Wallace, an F-15 crew chief with the 57th Maintenance Group at Nellis, posted Instagram photos Thursday of Larson’s visit, during which he showed her around the flightline and showed her an F-15 that flew in the Gulf War. Wallace said Larson was scheduled to fly in an F-16 on Friday.
“Captain Marvel” will be a 2019 installment in the massive series of Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that include the “Avengers,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain America.”
Col. Carol Danvers ― Captain Marvel’s alter ego ― is an Air Force fighter pilot and intelligence officer who can fly, shoot energy blasts from her hands, and has super strength. She gained her powers when her DNA was fused with an alien’s after being caught in an alien weapon’s explosion ― or, at least, that’s how it went in the comic books.
Wallace said that Larson met with Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis, and learned more about Leavitt’s background. Wallace said Leavitt’s history as the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot is helping inspire some of the film’s characterization of Captain Marvel.
A flight-suited Larson spent about two hours with Wallace, who told her about the F-15 and its undefeated history in air-to-air combat. Wallace said Larson was friendly and down-to-earth, and even FaceTimed with a friend of his who is a fan of the actress.
Larson was particularly interested in learning about the G-forces a pilot can pull in an F-15, its maneuverability, and its mission capabilities, Wallace said. She was also photographed with the F-15. Wallace said Larson’s father, an aviation fanatic, was with her and got a kick out of his daughter playing a fighter pilot.
Wallace said Larson was tight-lipped about her movie, aside from saying that she starts out as an Air Force colonel and becomes Captain Marvel during the course of the movie.
Wallace said Larson and her team played coy when he asked if she appears in the next Avengers movie, “Infinity War,” but her reaction led him to suspect she has at least a cameo in it.
“They couldn’t really disclose that one,” said Wallace, who is a fan of the “Avengers” movies. “I tried. But her actions were speaking a little bit louder than words.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.