How the Air Force’s 1st Female Fighter Pilot, Jeannie Leavitt, Helped Bring ‘Captain Marvel’ to Life

Jessica Cicchetto/U.S. Air Force
Actress Brie Larson poses for a photo with Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution in…

Before Captain Marvel emerged as one of the galaxy’s biggest superheroes, she was U.S. Air Force fighter pilot, Captain Carol Danvers.

To prepare for the title role in the new “Captain Marvel” movie, Brie Larson learned about what it takes to be an F-15 fighter pilot from an Air Force pioneer, Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, the Air Force’s first female fighter pilot.

That connection has given the Air Force an opportunity to reach new audiences, particularly young girls who could become the next generation of fighter pilots.

In early 2018, Larson and the movie’s production team visited Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to visit Leavitt and hear about her experiences.

“She wanted to talk to female fighter pilots and see what it was like,” Leavitt told ABC News at a Washington, D.C., screening of the movie.

During the visit, Leavitt described some of the adversity she experienced in the early 1990s as a pioneer female pilot, and the Marvel movie out this week incorporates some of the negativity and chauvinism that she experienced.

Already trained as an Air Force pilot, Leavitt had not experienced difficulties from peers until she was selected to serve with what had been all-male fighter squadrons.

“The time that it really became very male-dominated was once I transitioned into fighter aircraft because there were no other women,” said Leavitt. “Honestly, I did not want to be the first female fighter pilot. I just wanted to be the best fighter pilot.”

Leavitt later helped Larson with some of the small details that only fighter pilots could know.

Leavitt was also on set to help Larson during the Air Force-related shoots, teaching her the proper way to carry her helmet bag while walking out to an F-15 fighter. Pilots carry it in their left hand or over their left shoulder so they can salute the crew chief with their right hand when they approach the aircraft.

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SOURCE: ABC News – Luis Martinez, Janet Weinstein