SPOILER ALERT: If you still haven’t seen ‘Captain Marvel’, this contains MAJOR SPOILERS to proceed with caution.
Even though ‘Captain Marvel’ is set in 1995, it is still filled with important events and Easter Eggs from Marvel’s history. Fans discovered how Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) lost his eye, and the film introduced a young Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar), setting the stage for her to possibly reappear as an adult in future movies, as either Photon or Spectrum. One element that hasn’t been widely discussed is the inclusion (of sorts) of the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell.
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In ‘Captain Marvel’, Mar-Vell is gender-swapped, with the esteemed Annette Bening stepping into the role as Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) mentor. Rather than using the human alias Walter Lawson, Benning plays Wendy Lawson, a covert Kree scientist looking to perfect a light speed drive that could end the conflict between her people and their enemy alien race the Skrulls.
Bening pulls double duty, also appearing as the Supreme Intelligence, the collective knowledge of the planet’s leaders of the past. In the film, the Supreme Intelligence appears differently to each Kree, embodying the form of someone that person most admires. But considering that Carol Danvers, or Vers, has no memory of her past, she doesn’t understand why the Supreme Intelligence appears to her in Bening’s form.
Last year, while filming, Bening spoke to Marvel.com about her two roles.
“This is cool. I get to do some really fun stuff and it has proved to be a joy… I get to do more than one thing. There’s a duality to what I do so in some ways you think I’m kind of one thing but I’m actually another thing.
“Part of what I do is I get to play the Supreme Intelligence, and within that, there’s a lot of creativity. In our story, the way that the Supreme Intelligence is embodied is new.”
Indeed, Bening is a far cry from the globulous floating head with tentacles depicted in the comics.
And while sometimes fans bristle when a classic comic book character is radically reinterpreted for a film, no one has really cried foul over the change from Mar-Vell being a man to a woman, or her not acting as a superhero herself before Carol. (The movie can only be so long.)
In all honesty, that’s probably because Mar-Vell was never a top-tier character, which is likely why he was killed off in 1982. At this point, even most comic book readers probably aren’t familiar with that version of the character. No need to bog down Carol’s origin story with another Captain Marvel.
‘Captain Marvel’ is now playing in theaters.