Jude Law is Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel in the MCU. How exactly will that work alongside Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers?
Captain Marvel has slowly been gathering a crew to prepare for its shooting start date next year, and now proper casting has begun with Law in talks to join the film as Dr. Walter Lawson, better known as Mar-Vell. Ever since Captain Marvel was first announced, fans have wondered if the original hero to bear that name would appear in the film. Not only did he operate for years using the moniker, but his connection to Carol Danvers and their shared physiology is a big part of the latter character’s evolution from Air Force pilot to superhero.
Though Law’s part in Captain Marvel isn’t finalized, it does prove that Mar-Vell will be joining the MCU. It also confirms that his civilian alter-ego, that of a deceased scientist with a criminal past named Walter Lawson, will be carrying over from the comics. There’s no indication yet how Mar-Vell’s story will unfold on-screen and even less sense of how his long history will be condensed in order to transform Carol Danvers into the primary Captain Marvel in the MCU. But, regardless, another exciting piece of the Marvel cosmic universe is set to come to life, and the source may provide some clues.
Captain Marvel Only Exists Because Of Rights Dispute
Like so much of the Marvel Universe, the first Captain Marvel was created by Stan Lee with artist Gene Colan later designing the characters original green-and-white uniform. Most of the core attributes of the character wouldn’t appear at first, instead slowly evolving with the hero as years passed and new creatives tweaked and updated the character. That’s because, at first, the invention of Mar-Vell was simply to secure the rights to the name “Captain Marvel”.
The story of the Captain Marvel trademark is long and complicated, but the short version is that the hero now known as Shazam! was once Captain Marvel. Created by Fawcett Comics and eventually becoming more popular than Superman, the ’50s saw the hero fall out of favor and Fawcett lose the trademark thanks to DC bringing a lawsuit against them. Ironically, the suit was because of the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman, which eventually prevented DC from using the original name when they bought the rights to the character.
Marvel eventually jumped on the lapse by Fawcett and debuted their Captain Marvel in 1967’s Marvel Super-Heroes #12. The comic was hardly a hit; it died swiftly and was only brought back over the years to keep the trademark under Marvel’s control. Even when a new creative team of Roy Thomas and Gil Kane updated Mar-Vell’s costume and powers while also augmenting his backstory, the character still failed to resonate, although he did end up playing a crucial role in the early ’70s Kree-Skrull War arc in Avengers.
It wasn’t until Jim Starlin took over in 1973 that his more well-known attributes came into play. A few years later and Air Force officer Carol Danvers would be involved in an accident that would grant her the powers of Mar-Vell and she’d go on to become the hero Ms. Marvel. Like her predecessor, she wasn’t wildly popular, but she regularly fought alongside the Avengers and was eventually put on her current path of success when Brian Michael Bendis included her in his New Avengers lineup.
How Captain Marvel’s Story Evolved
Though Mar-Vell’s story shifted over the years, his eventual backstory positioned him as a Kree warrior sent to Earth to keep an eye on the growing race of potential threats. Taking the identity of Dr. Walter Lawson, he monitored human life and began to grow close to them. He’d occasionally even suit up and serve as a superhero to protect his adopted people. Eventually, Mar-Vell starred in Marvel Comics first graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel. Written by Jim Starlin, the book was released in 1982 and followed Mar-Vell losing his battle to cancer and receiving honors from across the galaxy. Even Thanos would arrive to lead Mar-Vell into the afterlife and cement Captain Marvel as a legend in the comic book universe.
While Mar-Vell has temporarily returned a number of times, he’s always gone back to his death. In his stead, Carol Danvers has served as Earth’s resident Kree-powered warrior. Danvers debuted one issue after Mar-Vell in Marvel Super-Heroes #13, created by Thomas and Colan. The following year, Captain Marvel #18 saw her caught in an explosion that seemingly killed her but actually gave her Kree DNA and Mar-Vell’s powers. It’d be eight years, however, until she resurfaced in 1977’s Ms. Marvel.
Possessing the immense cosmic power, energy absorption and manipulation, flight, and super-strength and durability of her predecessor, Ms. Marvel would fight alongside Captain Marvel before carrying on his legacy for years. In 2012, Kelly Sue DeConnick debuted Carol Danvers as the new Captain Marvel, complete with a fresh costume. It’s this version of the hero that has become a prominent player in the Marvel Comics universe and who is all set to make her big screen debut in 2019 played by Brie Larson.
Given the long journey of Carol Danvers from pilot to hero and her deep connection to Mar-Vell, his past, and his powers, it’s been hard to imagine a Captain Marvel film that doesn’t somehow feature the original hero. With word that Law will be playing a mentor of Carol Danvers, it’s clear that some version of the interplay from the comics will factor into the film. Just how the plot will play out against the backdrop of the Kree-Skrull War and the origin of Captain Marvel is unknown. And with the movie set in the early ’90s, it’s even less clear how so many superheroes, cosmic events, and alien invasions will be unknown to the public or the other Avengers.
With Captain Marvel set to shoot in a few months, we should know more about Mar-Vell’s role in the MCU soon.
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