Michael Muller Shoots Marvel's First Leading Female Superhero
For the past decade, superhero movies have broken records and topped the box office charts. Marvel’s Universe is home to the big screen’s most beloved superheroes, including Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, and most recently, their first leading female superhero: Captain Marvel. The Universe paved the way for this progressive addition to its franchise earlier in 2018 with the debut of their first African American superhero, Black Panther. In his latest collaboration with Marvel, photographer to the superheroes, Michael Muller, shot the movie posters featuring the super woman for her own movie debut.
Michael is no stranger to shooting superheroes on set, and he sees each of his Marvel shoots as their own unique experience. His shoot with the cast of Captain Marvel was extra special. “The process is always a little different…” explains Michael on shooting characters from Marvel’s Universe. “When you do the Marvel superhero movie posters, you have these big casts of 12 Avengers, and sometimes up to 20 or 30 actors. Capturing each unique suit also makes it interesting. But I think the main, unique and cool aspect with this particular shoot was the fact that Brie Larson, the lead, is a female. And without going into too much of the story, a female that is going to save the world."
With each Marvel movie franchise comes a different set of superheroes, each with their unique set of skills and powers. During the two days of shooting with Michael, Captain Marvel’s powers stood out. “All the superheroes always have different powers, but Brie’s character sort of has all of their powers - one of which is flying,” Michael reveals, delving into some of the behind the scenes work that isn't shown in the final images. “It was cool to use Brie in harnesses. We use harnesses, and the stunt team comes in and we actually fly the talent. So she flew, without ropes… because she’s a superhero."
With ten years on the job, Michael knows how to capture and inspire the strength that boldly shines in each superhero shoot. “I’ll direct the way they stand, how they position their body, where they’re looking, and especially the angles I shoot them from. The angles and the lighting make it the whole combination – the superhero recipe, with the actors adding their character to it. This is her first superhero film, but it’s interesting to watch the actors, as the sequels develop, watch the characters perform their craft. After 10 years doing this, I try to direct the new superheroes as much as possible.”
When asked about whether one of the shoots stands out as his favorite, Michael admits that it’s too hard to choose. “There are no favorites because they all have sentimental value, you know what I mean? I enjoy all my shoots…but I would say, the one that’s got a lot of sentimental value would be Iron Man 1 because it was the first one I shot. I remember Robert Downey Jr. showed me the sketches, and how excited he was. And then the studio called. I did two weeks on that shoot, I did hyper unit where we go and shoot the actors on set as well. My assistants have portable strobe lights, and that’s when I have access to all the sets. When I do hyper unit it’s amazing. I love to get those shots on camera because we have the backdrops right there. The actors are in costume, in uniform, all that good stuff. That one has a lot of sentimental value, but you know my favorite I would say is “Captain America 2”. I think it had the coolest costumes and uniforms. Those costumes, that style; they were just amazing."
Through all of his superhero experience, Michael keeps one simple goal in mind. “With a movie poster you know, there’s 1.4 seconds to stop someone in a magazine or stop them on Amsterdam. You got one shot to make people say to themselves in their car like, “that looks cool,” or “that looks dumb”. The way you look at a movie billboard can really affect the box office. And that’s my job, to make them look cool. I know the comic book fans are going to come to the movie. My goal is to get my wife into the movie theatre. To get the people that are not the superhero or comic book people into the theater, into the seats."