Captain Marvel Didn't Change [SPOILER] As Much As Fans Think

Annette Bening in Captain Marvel and Comics Mar-Vell

Annette Bening's character in Captain Marvel wasn't changed so much as fans think. As the Supreme Intelligence, Bening was a holographic image plucked from Carol Danvers' mind, representing the face and form of a person Captain Marvel truly respected. Over the course of the movie, viewers learned that the inspiration was Dr. Mary Lawson, a brilliant research scientist who was secretly a rogue Kree operative on Earth called Mar-Vell.

The Kree agent Mar-Vell is a classic figure from the comics, created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in 1967, and is originally a male. Indeed, directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck told Entertainment Weekly that they'd planned to do a comic-book-accurate version. They'd already started looking for a male actor to play the part when they decided to make a last-minute switch. It was Boden who came up with the idea of combining the Supreme Intelligence and Mar-Vell, streamlining the narrative. She approached Marvel, who immediately green-lit the approach.

Related: Captain Marvel's "Twist" Was Spoiled in Infinity War

In the comics, Mar-Vell inspired Carol Danvers to become a superhero; in fact, he was the first Captain Marvel, and Carol ultimately took up the codename in his honor years after his death. This is a fairly traditional comic book trope, with male heroes inspiring women to follow in their footsteps; particularly prominent examples include Supergirl and Batgirl. The MCU's gender-swap completely subverts this, although Bening's Mar-Vell still serves as Carol's inspiration. But, aside from the gender-swap, she's not so different to the comic book version.

Mar-Vell's Origin Story Is The Same In Captain Marvel

Introduced in Marvel Super-Heroes #12, Mar-Vell was a Kree scientist who was sent to Earth on a secret mission. Little by little, his interaction with humanity led to his realizing that the Kree weren't to be trusted. He betrayed the Kree in defense of his new people, and became a noted superhero on Earth. In a similar way, in Captain Marvel Annette Bening's character was indoctrinated from birth and spent half her life fighting the Kree's wars. But somehow she realized the truth - that the Skrull were not the villains but the victims - and she betrayed her own people in a desperate attempt to save the last survivors of the shapeshifting race. That quest led her to Earth, where she studied the Tesseract. There's a clear parallel between the comic book character and the MCU version, with both coming to reject the Kree and betray their own people.

Interestingly, Mar-Vell's comment - about having fought for the Kree for half her life - suggests her story has been going on for decades, if not a century or more. The MCU's version of the Kree are remarkably long-lived; a Kree blood transfusion is the reason Carol Danvers hasn't aged between 1995 and 2019, between Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame. Given that's the case, it's possible Mar-Vell has secretly been working against the Kree for a long time before her death. The untold story of Mar-Vell, hinted at in the movie, is a lengthy one.

Carol Danvers' Origin Keeps The Mar-Vell/Yon-Rogg Rivalry

In the comics, one of Mar-Vell's greatest enemies is a fellow Kree warrior named Yon-Rogg. Yon-Rogg was commander of Mar-Vell's expedition to Earth, and conspired to have Mar-Vell killed because both were in love with the same woman. The rivalry became a deep, intense affair, with Yon-Rogg going to increasingly desperate lengths to murder his nemesis. In the end, it all came to a head around a device known as the Psyche-Magnitron, which Yon-Rogg believed would allow him to defeat Mar-Vell once and for all. The Psyche-Magnitron exploded, apparently killing Yon-Rogg but also irradiating the body of a nearby human with Kree energy - Carol Danvers. The MCU inverts this story with a light-speed engine that was invented by Mar-Vell using Tesseract technology. Yon-Rogg (leader of Starforce) had presumably been monitoring Mar-Vell's experiments and intervened when the prototype was ready, shooting Mar-Vell's ship down in an attempt to acquire the light-speed engine. He succeeded in killing Mar-Vell, but the engine was destroyed by Carol Danvers, whose body was flooded with Tesseract energy. It's a revised version of Carol Danvers' superhero origin story, and a fascinating one.

Related: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Set Up Captain Marvel’s Origin Twist

On the face of it, the rivalry between Yon-Rogg and Mar-Vell has been erased in the MCU, but that's not necessarily the case; bearing in mind the lengths of Kree lives, it's entirely possible that the fateful clash between Yon-Rogg and Mar-Vell on Earth was the end of a bitter feud. Certainly, Yon-Rogg must have been monitoring Mar-Vell for some time in order to know that her prototype was complete and being tested. All that's different is who emerged victoriously - to begin with.

Page 2 of 2: Mar-Vell Can Still Be Important In The MCU's Future

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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