HEAT VISION

Did 'Captain Marvel' Quietly Introduce the Next Thanos?

Marvel Studios may be laying the groundwork for a chief villain to rise after 'Avengers: Endgame.'
'Captain Marvel'   |   Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios may be laying the groundwork for a chief villain to rise after 'Avengers: Endgame.'

[This story contains spoilers for Captain Marvel.]

The scourge of Thanos will soon be coming to an end. That is, if the Avengers succeed in taking him down in Avengers: Endgame. Heat Vision has previously highlighted a number of villains who could step into the role of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's next big bad, as well as potential galactic conflicts that could serve as the basis for a New Avengers film. But there’s one character Captain Marvel introduces that could be a compelling overarching villain in the MCU’s next phase, as well as lead the Avengers into their next war: the Supreme Intelligence. The bio-organic living computer, which houses the greatest minds in Kree history and rules the Kree Empire, plays a small but important role in Captain Marvel, where we get just a taste of the villainy Marvel Comics has built over the decades. Given Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) promise at the end of the film that she’s coming for the Supreme Intelligence, we expect that role to grow, and the mystery behind the character to be peeled back as the cosmic chessboard is set up.

The Supreme Intelligence, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuted in Fantastic Four No. 65 (1967). One of Kirby’s best and strangest designs, the Supreme Intelligence appears as a giant, blobby green head with tentacles extending from it. This is a far cry from the Supreme Intelligence’s appearance in Captain Marvel, where it appeared to Kree as the person they respect the most. In Carol Danvers’ case it’s Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening). Given the affinity for Kirby’s artwork in the MCU, we’ll undoubtedly get to see the Supreme Intelligence in its beloved cabbage-headed form eventually. But Bening gives the Supreme Intelligence the perfect amount of menace, charm and subtle manipulation, at least until she taps into the full extent of her powers during the film’s climax. While expansion of the Kree Empire, and the elimination of the Skrulls, is seemingly the Supreme Intelligence’s driving force in the film, the comics have shown that war is only the beginning of its ambitions.

We don’t get to spend a lot of time on the Kree homeworld of Hala in Captain Marvel, something fans are surely hopeful future MCU films will provide because there’s a clear goal behind the Kree's warring nature. A key part of the Kree race in the comics is that they are evolutionarily stagnant, due to a scientist’s attempt to possess the Crystal of Ultimate Vision and become a god millennia ago. As a result, the once genetically superior Kree were frozen in evolutionary place. While they seem far more advanced than humans, they are the equivalent of Earth’s Cro-Magnon men by their standards. Some of the blue-skinned Kree began interbreeding to preserve their pure bloodline while others bred with different species, conquering worlds in an attempt to find a race that could push them over the evolutionary hump. This interracial breeding resulted in the “pink-skinned” Kree, those who appear more human than their blue counterparts. The Supreme Intelligence, utilizing the consciousness of Kree’s greatest scientists, philosophers and warriors, housed within its being, long sought to push the Kree forward through advancements in cyborg technology and genetic mutations. The Supreme Intelligence, Ronan (Lee Pace), and Yon-Rogg’s (Jude Law) interest in Carol Danvers in the film hints at a similar genetic concern, and the idea that whatever Mar-Vell’s (Bening) engine unlocked in Carol could be unlocked within them.

The most notable result in the Kree’s experimentation with mutations were the Inhumans, a race of genetically altered humans that served as trial runs for their own genetic advancement as well as potential soldiers to fight on their side in the Kree-Skrull War. While the Inhumans were terribly botched in the blessedly short-lived ABC series in 2017, hopefully that brief television stint can be forgotten and removed from canon so that the Inhumans can get the film, and place in the MCU’s growing cosmic conflict, they rightfully deserve.

But the Inhumans are only part of the Kree’s grand design. The Supreme Intelligence isn’t averse to destroying its own people to ensure that the Kree race can be all it can be. One of the defining moments in the Supreme Intelligence’s history of villainy occurred in Marvel’s 1992 event series, Operation: Galactic Storm. In that story, the Supreme Intelligence manipulated the Kree, Shi’Ar, Skrulls and Avengers toward the ultimate goal of destroying the Kree Empire with a Nega-Bomb, which kills billions of Kree and paves the way for the survivors to grow into a stronger and genetically superior race of Kree. It’s a shocking moment in Avengers history because the team loses, and then sinks even lower when they become divided over whether to execute the Supreme Intelligence. After Black Knight, encouraged by Iron Man, Vision, Wonder Man and Sersi, delivers the killing blow to the Supreme Intelligence, Captain America becomes disillusioned with the Avengers and his place as a hero in the modern world. But the Supreme Intelligence survives, and is uploaded to a Skrull spaceship where he is protected as part of a bargain for destroying the Kree.

In Captain Marvel it’s apparent that Marvel Studios has larger plans for the Skrulls and the Kree, and neither race of aliens could be explored in full without the presence of the Supreme Intelligence. The Avengers have had their share of physical threats, culminating with Thanos. But the Supreme Intelligence has no offensive capabilities, and reigns through manipulation and getting inside the minds of its victims and using them like chess pieces. One interesting element that could become a future source of the Supreme Intelligence’s manipulation became apparent during a rewatch of Captain Marvel.

During the film’s climax, Skrull general Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) asks his wife to cover his daughter’s eyes while he kills several Kree soldiers. But his daughter pulls away from her mother and sees her father execute the Kree. The moment is never addressed in the remainder of the film, but the focus on the young Skrull's face and witnessing of her father’s actions suggests its importance. Given how these comic-inspired stories work, there’s a chance that Talos’ yet-unnamed daughter is Veranke, the eventual queen of the Skrull Empire who plots the Secret Invasion. This theory is given even more weight by the fact that Monica Rambeau tells the young Kree girl to never change her eyes, which she would of course have to do were she to infiltrate Earth as a member of the Avengers as she did in Secret Invasion (2008). Maybe, just maybe, future films in the MCU will see Veranke plotting to take over Earth, the only viable home she’s ever encountered, with some prodding from the Supreme Intelligence seeking to clear the playing field and set the stage for the Kree’s evolutionary leap by way of genocide. However the Kree-Skrull War evolves in the MCU, there’s hopefully a lot more of the Supreme Intelligence to be explored, and hopefully more of Annette Bening grooving to Nirvana for that matter.

  • Richard Newby
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