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Sunday March 3rd 2024

Captain Marvel | 2019

Captain Marvel film location: Valley Plaza, Laurel Canyon Boulevard, San Fernando Valley, California
Captain Marvel location: Vers crashes into the 'Blockbuster' store: Valley Plaza, Laurel Canyon Boulevard, San Fernando Valley, California | Photograph: Google Maps

Since Captain Marvel is still a recent release, I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, though I’d assume you’d see the film before checking out the locations.

It’s not giving anything away to reveal that there’s quite a lot of the film takes place in space, so that obviously means sets, in this case built at the Sony Studios in Culver City, Los Angeles.

The practical locations are around southern California, with a brief sojourn in Louisiana.

The planet Torfa, where Vers (Brie Larson), apparently one of the Kree, gets captured during a mission against the shapeshifting Skrull uses the Gillibrand Quarry, 5810 Bennett Road in Simi Valley, north of Los Angeles.

Yes, it’s a working sand quarry but everybody wants to be in movies and, being so close to Hollywood, it also earns its keep as a filming location.

When Vers’ memory is invaded by Skrull commander Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) to collect information on a light-speed engine, the probe goes a little too far back, puzzlingly to a childhood on earth in 1986, go-karting in a scene filmed at the Jim Hall Racing Club, 2600 Challenger Place in Oxnard. You've missed your chance for a whizz round the circuit – the club sadly closed in March 2019.

Vers manages to escape the Skrull only to crashland on an obscure little planet known as C-53. Also known as Earth and, the year being 1995, she plummets through the roof of a Blockbuster Video store.

The fake movie rental store is the rear entrance of 6321 Laurel Canyon Boulevard, North Hollywood, facing the carpark in Valley Plaza, just south of Victory Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley.

Until my next visit to LA, this unimpressive screenshot from Google Streetview will have to suffice.

Her unexpected arrival attracts remarkably young S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), whose skeptical reaction to Vers’ story is challenged by a sudden attack by the Skrull.

The city of LA appears to shrink a little as Vers chases a shape-shifted ‘surfer’ from Blockbuster in the San Fernando Valley onto the train at the elevated Los Angeles Metro Douglas Station, some 28 miles south in El Segundo, southeast of Los Angeles International Airport.

Although Douglas Station is on the Green Line (which runs east-west, from Redondo Beach to Norwalk), her fight with an apparently sweet old lady concludes with train heading into a tunnel on the Blue Line (running north-south from Downtown to Long Beach).

The train eventually pulls into the 7th Street / Metro Center Station in Downtown Los Angeles and to confuse regular LA commuters further, Vers emerges almost a mile northeast, from the canopied metro entrance of the Civic Center Station, on the Red Line.

Perhaps permission to film on the Metro system included a clause guaranteeing screen time to each line?

Fury’s concurrent car chase ends abruptly nearby on North Hill Street at West Temple Street, with his passenger making a surprising transformation.

Captain Marvel film location: West 6th Street, Westlake South, Los Angeles
Captain Marvel location: Vers steals a motorbike: West 6th Street, Westlake South, Los Angeles | Photograph: Google Maps

Vers searches online to discover the identity of a mysterious woman who haunts her memories. To follow up a lead, she needs transport and steals a motor bike from the small strip mall on the southwest corner West 6th Street at Valencia Street, Westlake South, roaring off south down Valencia Street.

It's a daring move, the mall stands directly opposite Rampart LAPD Station.

Her destination is the town of Rosamond, Route 14, about 15 miles north of Lancaster in the Mojave Desert, and ‘Pancho’s Bar’.

Rosamond is real enough but ‘Pancho’s Bar’ is The Zebra Club, 2763 Sierra Hwy, Rosamond, California 93560 – a little more of an adult entertainment club than the flyers’ bar seen in the film. OK, it's a strip club.

Anticipating her move, Nick Fury is also there.

Vers’ recovered memories lead her and Fury to the ‘Project Pegasus’ installation at a US Air Force base, where they discover Vers was a pilot presumed to have died in 1989 while testing an experimental jet engine designed by Dr Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) – the woman from her unexplained dreams.

The air force base is, of course, the familiar Edwards Air Force Base in Kern County, Southern California The base is a screen regular, having appeared in Marvel's Iron Man, Armageddon, the Transformers movies and The Right Stuff (the video Vers picks up in the Blockbuster store).

Once again having to escape Talos, Vers and Fury flee in a cargo jet to visit Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), another member of Dr Lawson’s team, at her home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

As Vers recovers more of her memory, and of her former life as test pilot Carol Danvers, she recalls crashing on the shore of a remote lake, where there’s a host of revelations.

The tree-fringed lake is Shaver Lake, an artificial reservoir on Stevenson Creek, in the Sierra National Forest of Fresno County, California.

The lake, which was formed by the construction of Shaver Lake Dam in 1927, and has been featured in reality TV shows Endurance High Sierras and Capture.

Since the rest of the story unfolds aboard an orbiting space laboratory, we’re back the studio for rest of the film. If you enjoy studio tours, by the way, Sony Studios give you a chance to visit what was the famous old MGM Studio.