Prior to 2018, it’s entirely possible that the average TV viewer and moviegoer may not have been familiar with Gemma Chan — sci-fi fans, however, were another matter entirely. Her appearances on shows like “Doctor Who” or “Sherlock” were excellent and her performance as a robot in search of basic rights on “Humans” made her an instant icon in the sci-fi community.
With that in mind, it was very exciting to see such a gifted performer make her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Minn-Erva in the 2019 film, “Captain Marvel.” The Kree warrior has an extensive comics history that dates back to 1977, so longtime fans of both Chan and the character were disappointed to discover that Minn-Erva was nothing more than a very minor supporting player in “Captain Marvel.”
After Minn-Erva was killed on-screen in that film as well, fans dejectedly assumed that was the end for not just the character, but also for Gemma Chan in the MCU. However, as fans now know, Chan is set to appear as Sersi in the upcoming Marvel film, “Eternals.”
The question is: How did Chan end up getting a second chance in the MCU?
Gemma Chan achieved breakout success in 2018, thanks to her role as Astrid in the enormously successful comedy, “Crazy Rich Asians.” The next year saw her turn up briefly as Minn-Erva in “Captain Marvel.” However, “Crazy Rich Asians” earned itself a number of awards nominations during the 2019 awards circuit, and it turns out that it was while she was doing the awards season run for that film that Gemma Chan had an interesting run-in with a certain Marvel Studios head honcho.
“I encountered Kevin Feige during the awards circuit for ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and out of the blue, he just came up and said, ‘We’d love to have you back,'” Chan recounted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I’m going to paraphrase really badly, but I guess he’d seen the film and said, ‘We’d love to make better use of you. We’d just love for you to come back. We want you to do something else so let’s find that project.’ But, to be honest, I had no idea that it would be so soon. So, yeah, it was just really nice of him to say that.”
“Captain Marvel” was released in the United States on March 8, 2019, while Chan’s potential involvement in “Eternals” made headlines in August of that same year. It seems, based on that information alone, that someone at Disney and Marvel quickly realized that Gemma Chan is capable of turning in a whole lot more than just a one-off performance as a minor villain. As a result, Chan is one of the few actors to play not just one, but two roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Eternals” is set to hit theaters on November 5.