You probably know Taylor Momsen as Jenny Humphrey, the scheming teen queen bee from Gossip Girl. That was then. Today, Momsen has traded in the latest YSL purse for an axe, as lead singer and guitarist in The Pretty Reckless, alongside Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, and Jamie Perkins. Since forming in 2009, the band has released three albums: Light Me Up, Going to Hell, and most recently, Who You Selling For. Momsen has writing credits for all the songs — and when she's not killing it onstage, she's helping another female legend get her due.
The band is collaborating with Marvel's Music Spotlight initiative — which pairs musical talent with some of the franchise's heroes —to promote the first issue of Mighty Captain Marvel, which follows the trials and tribulations of Carol Danvers, a human alien hybrid, and the strongest woman on Earth. And if you're a fan, rejoice: Marvel has announced a Captain Marvel movie, starring Brie Larson, coming to a screen near you in 2018. Narrated by writer Margaret Stohl, the spotlight will feature only female-led bands or female solo artists, beginning with The Pretty Reckless' "Wild City." We talked to Momsen about Carol Danvers, women in the comic space, and why she's rather be a superhero than a mean girl.
Tell me a bit about the collaboration with Marvel. Taylor Momsen: “It was a very exciting call to get. I’m a huge Marvel fan, so any chance to intertwine our music with Marvel was very exciting for us.” What drew you to the project in particular — is there something about Carol Danvers that speaks to you? “Well, she’s the most powerful female superhero in the Marvel universe, so obviously as a woman can identify with that. If you could be a superhero wouldn’t you want to be Captain Marvel?” Totally. Were you a fan before? How long have you been reading comics? “Probably pretty much my whole life. I got more into it more in my adult life when the movies came out, but my dad was a huge comic book fan. The whole band [are] huge comic book fans, so it’s kind of been a part of my life for quite a long time. I mean, my guitar has The Punisher on it! How did you come to work on the project? Did Marvel approach you about a particular song? “They approached us and they picked the song "Wild City" which is about a girl in the city, so it’s kind of the fitting with Carol Danvers being a powerful woman in a city.” Comics are still kind of seen as a male-dominated space. Why do you think women should read comics? “I think that comic books — like music or any sort of entertainment — allow for an escape from reality, and I think that is something that is served. So, not only an escape but it can make you feel you know like something greater than everyday humanity and reality and give you something to aspire to. It definitely lends itself to creativity. I think whether you’re a women or a man getting into the comics, the space is empowering.” I was talking to Margie Stohl and Sana Amanat from Marvel, and we spoke about how, whenever I read about the comic or the movie Carol Danvers is kind of seen like the "female Iron Man," or the "female" whatever. What do you think it’ll take for people to see a female-driven storyline for what it is and not the female version of something else? “I think everyone probably has a different perspective on that. I mean for me, I’m obviously a woman in a rock band but I don’t really see it that way. I see it as we all play music and we all do the same thing, so there’s definitely a stigma to it that I think has not gone away yet, but it’s certainly starting to dissipate more and more. You’re seeing more and more female-fronted bands; you’re seeing more and more female artists emerging. So, I think that’s a good thing. I think the gender separation is starting to dissolve more than it has in the past.”
Do you have a favorite superhero overall? “I have a lot of favorite superheroes, so I can’t pick just one. I’m a huge Thor fan, I’m a huge Captain Marvel fan, I’m a huge fan of The Punisher, so it’s hard to pick just one superhero. I guess I’ll go with The Punisher just because it’s on my guitar and he’s so bad ass — how can you not like The Punisher?” Are you excited for the movie? Do you have thoughts on Brie Larson playing Carol Danvers? “I’m super excited; I’m a big fan of hers. I think she’s really talented, so I’m very excited to see what she does with the character. I love the movie Room, I thought she was fantastic in that, so I’m very excited to see what she does with Captain Marvel. I think she’s a great choice.” I know that you said that you would never act again but have you ever considered maybe getting involved in a Marvel movie? "I’ve always said, acting feels like my childhood at this point, I mean it essentially was. It feels like a past life. But I always say that if there was ever a chance that I would go back to acting it would have to be with Marvel because who doesn’t want to be a superhero?” Who would be your ideal superhero to play? “I kind of look like Carol Danvers a little bit, but they didn’t call me. They called Brie Larson. She got my role.” What qualities are heroic to you? “Well I think strength is heroic. Having, not just, personal strength but inner strength and real power, which is obviously what makes comic books so fun. [They] takes human elements of power and empowering women and men and put them into this category of "super," that everyone wants to be. Like if you could have superpowers, wouldn’t everyone say yes to that? So, I think that having internal power and strength is a quality that should be cherished.” If you could have one superpower, which would you pick? “That’s a hard question. Flying wouldn’t suck; I think it would be pretty cool to fly. That would probably be my number one power, and super-strength. I mean if you could be super strong that wouldn’t hurt anyone — or it would.”
What other projects do you have coming up? “We just released our latest record, Who You Selling For, so we’re currently getting ready to go back on tour in Europe, and then we’re going to South America. Our new single, "Oh My God," just came out and we’re getting ready to release the video for that, which we’re very excited about so if you haven’t checked it out, check it out!” The Marvel Music Spotlight initiative seeks to introduce new fans to the comic universe through music. Do you see a future in music highlighting comics, and vice versa? “I think that there definitely could be a partnership there. In my opinion, the closest thing you can get in reality to being a superhero is to be a rock star. I can’t fly, so I picked up a microphone instead. So, I think that there’s definitely a combination there of power, of being a front person in a band. Music empowers people, comics can empower people, and they really allow for a creative escape. I think that there’s definitely a melding point there that makes sense.” What do you hope people take away from this video? “I hope they get to know Captain Marvel, and I hope they start to investigate the character more and really get inside her head because the movie is going to be awesome. I hope that they know who they’re going to see.”