Rumors cropped up earlier this year that the Marvel Cinematic Universe was about to add another key character to its roster: according to some, plans were underway to create a television show based on patriotic British superhero Captain Britain. While these rumors have ultimately fizzled, it led many to wonder just who Captain Britain is and why he’d be a significant addition to the MCU?
While not as popular as a certain other Captain named for his home country, the British hero otherwise known as Brian Braddock has actually been a significant force in Marvel comics for years. His mythos is connected to Marvel’s multiverse of different dimensions, and one of his siblings is a popular member of mutant team X-Force.
Here are 15 Things You Need To Know About Captain Britain to appreciate his role in the Marvel comics multiverse, and why a TV show based on his adventures is something that many fans are clamoring for.
15. He’s Not Just a Captain America Clone
Considering the similarity in name, it might seem obvious that Captain Britain is simply an attempt to copy Captain America, creating a patriotic superhero for an audience across the Pond from New York.
While the idea behind the character may have been to create someone that would resonate with readers of Marvel UK’s comic books, the approach that was taken with developing Captain Britain is very different – rather than being based on the New World ideals of an underdog rising up through the benefits of technology, Brian Braddock gains his super powers from the wizard Merlyn, and his abilities are tied to the legendary stories of myth and magic that exist in Britain’s history.
Having been mortally wounded in a motorbike crash as part of a supervillain attack on the nuclear facility at which he works, Brian Braddock is given special powers from Merlyn and his daughter Roma to become a superhero who defends Britain from evil – unlike Captain America, protecting his home country so very rarely involves punching Hitler.
14. His Powers Change a Lot
Captain Britain’s been through several iterations since his initial debut in the 1960s, often being updated by the lead writer of his comic to meet the needs of Britain at a particular time – a reboot of the character in the 1980s was shaped in large part by Alan Moore, of Watchmen and V for Vendetta fame, and Captain Britain saw another reworking in 2008 at the hands of Paul Cornell, who among other things has contributed several scripts to Doctor Who.
As such, his powers often go through changes depending on his writer and the needs of the time. In addition to the standard superhuman strength, speed and agility that pretty much every Marvel character gets, Captain Britain is also sometimes able to fly, shoot energy beams, and project force fields, depending on the needs of the story. In his most recent incarnation, Captain Britain’s powers have become tied to his own self-confidence and to the mood of the British nation, meaning that he’s stronger when his fellow countrymen are feeling patriotic, but weaker when he doubts himself.
13. He Comes From Old Money
In keeping with the idea of making a superhero that appeals to British culture, Brian Braddock comes from a long line of aristocrats. The Braddock family tree is distinguished, but by the time Brian was born, most of the money had dried up.
Unpopular among other rich kids because of his lack of money and an outsider to those less wealthy because of his education and family culture, Brian was a lonely child who spent much of his time studying science. In classic superhero fashion, his parents were killed in a laboratory accident when he was young, leaving Brian and his two siblings (his twin sister Elizabeth and his brother Jamie) to care for each other.
Brian’s love of science grew into a distinguished career, and when comic book readers first meet the character, he is working at Darkmoor Research Centre when the mercenary Reaver attacks the facility, causing Brian to leave aboard his motorcycle to seek help.
12. His Powers Come from Magic
As Brian seeks to escape from Reaver, he crashes his motorbike. Bleeding out and near death, Brian receives two magical visitors – Merlyn, the famed sorcerer from Arthurian legend, along with the wizard’s daughter, Roma. The pair give Brian an opportunity to become Captain Britain, a force for good who can defeat Reaver and protect Britain from the forces of evil.
That said, the Merlyn in Captain Britain stories shouldn’t completely be trusted – unlike the familiar, wise and kindly Merlin from The Sword in the Stone and other such stories, this Merlyn is often shown as a liar, a trickster, and at times even a murderer – as such, his appearances in the comic aren’t always helpful, and his intervention usually comes with some form of caveat which inconveniences Captain Britain as much as is does help him. Considering Merlyn’s tricky ways, there’s some debate amongst Marvel comics aficionados as to whether or not he’s the legitimate Merlin at all.
11. His Powers Also Come from Technology
In addition to gaining power from the magical realm of ancient Britain, Brian Braddock’s powers are also often connected with a high form of technological wizardry. Similar to the explanation for Norse magic within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, at times within the comics, Captain Britain’s powers are explained to be thanks to ancient advanced technology held by Merlyn and others, which appears to be magic to those primitive people who don’t understand it.
Across the many writers that Captain Britain has seen, this explanation for magic isn’t always dwelt upon; as with many elements of the character’s backstory and abilities, it depends on the story at hand as to what origin magic might hold.
Even so, Brian’s abilities as a scientist are also periodically relied on – the character, in addition to being inspired by Britain’s history, is also connected to Britain’s continued relevance in fields of technological discovery, making Captain Britain a relevant hero for all aspects of UK culture.
10. He Can Wield Excalibur
There’s no sense having clear references to Merlin and Arthurian legend without bringing in Excalibur, the magical sword presented to King Arthur by the Lady in the Lake which can only be carried by one who is worthy.
Captain Britain isn’t the only one worthy of the sword, though: in recent comics, Brian Braddock has passed the sword on to Faiza Hussein, a doctor who gains the superhuman ability to take apart and fix human bodies with her mind. At one point during the Age of Ultron comics event, Braddock even passes the full mantle of Captain Britain on to Hussein, in case Braddock dies at the hands of Ultron and his forces.
Excalibur has significance for all the superheroes in Britain. At one point, the half-vampire Spitfire tells a story of Winston Churchill’s last night in office as Prime Minister, during which he requests of the magical beings of Britain that he is given the chance to see the legendary sword as a reward for his service to the country.
9. He’s Not a Fighter
Captain Britain isn’t a warrior. At least, not in his own opinion.
When Merlyn first appears to Brian Braddock as the scientist lies bleeding to death after his motorbike crash, the wizard gives Brian the choice of two magical artefacts which can save his life: the Sword of Might, and the Amulet of Right. These two items are intended to give the bearer the choice between the path of violence and destruction, and the path of reason and logic.
Brian decides that he isn’t much of a warrior, and rejects the Sword of Might in favor of the Amulet of Right – this choice transforms him into Captain Britain and provides the source of his powers, although he is also given a magical staff with which to do battle.
At other times in the comics, different people are given the same choice between the Sword of Might and the Amulet of Right – invariably, these other versions of Captain Britain have chosen the Sword of Might, and have been far more aggressive and violent in their use of their powers than Brian Braddock.
8. His Sister is Psylocke
Brian Braddock has two siblings: an older brother, Jamie, and a twin sister Elizabeth. Betsy Braddock, as she’s more commonly called, also has a distinguished career as a superhero, at one point taking up the mantle of Captain Britain when her brother rejects it. In addition to this, Betsy Braddock has worked as a charter air pilot, and has had a distinguished modelling career, which at one point she uses to infiltrate the Hellfire Club to spy on the X-Men’s enemies.
Most notably, though, Betsy is known as the mutant superhero Psylocke. Developing mutant psychic abilities, Betsy initially starts as a hero alongside her brother before going to study under Professor Xavier at his school for gifted youngsters. While there, she first takes on the name Psylocke, and a body-switching event leaves her mind trapped in the body of a Japanese ninja. She has continued in this body since, although many versions of Psylocke’s backstory tend to gloss over her origin as a former Captain Britain.
7. All His Best Friends are Mutants
Captain Britain has befriended many of the other superheroes from the Marvel comics universe, even though he’s often on another continent to most of the main events around New York City. Most often, though, Brian Braddock finds himself in the company of mutants – his sister and wife are both mutants, and he has often worked as part of mutant superhero teams.
The most famous of these teams, Excalibur, is comprised of some of the most popular characters from the X-Men franchise. Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde, and a version of Phoenix are all founding members of the superhero team, which is based in London. The team is typically comprised mostly of mutants, with Captain Britain as an exception to the rule.
6. He’s Married to a Shapeshifter
Among the mutants that Captain Britain has associated with, none have had as much of an impact upon him as Meggan Puceanu, a shapeshifter whose appearance is typically dictated by what others think of her. Meggan grew up as a romany in Britain, and, thanks to her shapeshifting powers, grew fur as a child to keep her warm. When others saw her and believed her to be a werewolf, she subconsciously developed the attributes that they expected her to have, including fangs, a sensitivity to the full moon, and even bat wings.
Eventually, though, influenced by Captain Britain and wanting to please him, Meggan transforms into a tall, beautiful blonde, who Brian Braddock falls in love with, and the two marry. Even at this point, though, Meggan is still working to please others rather than being herself – it’s not until Meggan is forced to sacrifice herself to save her friends, getting sent to hell in the process, that she is finally given an opportunity to look inside herself and develop a greater sense of her own identity, ultimately returning to Brian in his hour of need as a more well-rounded, confident hero.
5. He’s a Dimension-Hopper
The original version of the Captain Britain origin story deals with a single hero created in a time of need; the expansion of the story during his 1980s reboot changes this, creating a more complex mythos around the character that focuses more on the Marvel comics multiverse.
Brian Braddock ultimately learns that every dimension has a Captain Britain, or a variation thereof, which is tasked with protecting their world – later, during the Secret Wars event, this is shown to be true even in dimensions in which Britain doesn’t exist, as a version of Faiza Hussein appears as Captain Britain, without knowing what Britain is.
These various British heroes are collectively known, in classic comic book style, as the Captain Britain Corps, and they all often gather together at their headquarters in Otherworld to debate the issues that affect their various worlds. In addition to this, it’s revealed that Brian Braddock’s father, Sir James Braddock, originally came from Otherworld, an alternate dimension wherein Avalon, the mystical land that provides Britain with its magic, exists.
4. He Works for MI13
In his most recent incarnation, Captain Britain has been drafted into MI13, the military intelligence branch of the British secret service which deals with superhumans and the threats that they pose to the country.
Alongside his teammates in MI13, Captain Britain has fought off a variety of threats, including an invasion of shapeshifting alien Skrulls who are determined to steal Britain’s magic, and an attack by Dracula, who is determined to claim the country for himself.
MI13’s main team of agents is led by the mutant Pete Wisdom, and also features Spitfire, a World War II-era hero who is part vampire, and The Black Knight, an Avenger who fights with a cursed sword that attempts to persuade him to do evil.
In practice, though, MI13 generally performs no better than any other government institution within the Marvel universe. It’s common for villains to infiltrate its ranks or provide false information that leads heroes into a trap. This is all in a day’s work for a superhero, and Captain Britain has also been an Avenger when needed.
3. He’s Been the King of the Multiverse
Otherworld, the realm that the Captain Britain Corps originate from and the current location of King Arthur’s Court of Camelot, is a central dimension throughout the multiverse, and the place where the entirety of the Marvel Multiverse is watched over from.
Originally, Merlyn and his daughter Roma rule over Otherworld, keeping a close eye on all dimensions across time and space in order to maintain peace. This status quo is altered, though, when Merlyn secretly replaces Roma, supposedly because he has murdered his daughter.
After this, Merlyn is dethroned, and Captain Britain and his wife Meggan are presented with the throne of Otherworld instead, giving them the responsibility to rule over the Captain Britain Corps and all dimensions that they represent.
2. He Was Once Spider-Man’s Roommate
At the time that Captain Britain debuted, one of the most popular Marvel comics characters was Spider-Man: it therefore made perfect sense for Marvel UK to release a special comic series combining the two characters.
In this comics run, Brian Braddock leaves the UK to study at Empire State University, and through an incredibly convenient coincidence, is assigned as a roommate to Peter Parker, better known as the amazing Spider-Man. The two heroes butt heads a bit both in their superhero costumes and in their secret identities, before Spidey and Captain Britain start to get along and work together to fight crime.
During their time of training together as superheroes, Peter Parker figures out Captain Britain’s secret identity fairly easily (after all, how many tall, muscular blond British men are running around New York?) but Brian Braddock fails to see through Spider-Man’s guise. The pair’s friendship is strained over this time, though, as Brian embraces the British stereotype of drinking heavily and getting into fights.
1. He Has His Own Superhero Academy
As the children of formerly wealthy British aristocrats, Brian Braddock and his siblings are in possession of a large mansion without any money to keep it operating. Many houses in similar states in Britain are turned into public attractions to maintain the funds to keep them operating, but Captain Britain has found a better use for Braddock Manor: the headquarters of Braddock Academy, a training ground for Britain’s best and brightest upcoming superheroes.
The Marvel universe is full of academies and schools for heroes; in addition to the famous Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters, there exists the Avengers Initiative, which was founded to help young superheroes to develop their powers, and the Avengers Academy, which is designed to keep dangerous superhumans from making poor choices and becoming supervillains.
Braddock Academy is designed to play the part of the Avengers Initiative for young British superheroes, but things very rarely run smoothly at the school. Several students are at one point kidnapped by a supervillain and forced to compete in a deadly contest called Murderworld.
Whether saving the entire multiverse or just the British Isles, Captain Britain has a long legacy as a consistently popular superhero within the UK. While the character isn’t anywhere near as well-known as the far more famous Captain America, Brian Braddock has participated in plenty of amazing adventures and made a genuine contribution to the lore of the entire Marvel Universe.
Whether the character crops up in his own television series in the near future, or whether he instead makes appearance in an MCU movie, it’s likely only a matter of time before Captain Britain reaches a wider audience.
What parts of the Captain Britain story did we miss out? What do you think of the character and his adventures? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.