Does 'Captain Marvel' Tease the Cinematic Debut of Carol Danvers' Forerunner?

Preview images for next year's movie hint at the existence of Marvel's first female Captain Marvel.
John Romita Jr/Marvel Entertainment

The first images released for Captain Marvel don’t just introduce Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers — they also offer the first look at Lashana Lynch’s character from the movie, who might turn out to be far more important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe than first appears.

Lynch will play Maria Rambeau, described as “one of Carol’s oldest friends.” More importantly for those who know their Marvel comic book lore, Rambeau is also "a top-notch Air Force pilot with the call sign ‘Photon’” and a single mother to a young daughter. This is particularly interesting — especially when taken in conjunction with the movie’s 1990s setting — because Maria Rambeau’s daughter in comic book lore is Monica Rambeau, a superhero and former Avenger who has gone by a number of names since her 1982 debut in Amazing Spider-Man Annual No. 16 inc...including, for a brief period, “Photon.”

This is more than just an Easter egg teasing a connection to an existing Marvel character, a la 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, however — that movie also featured the mother of a superhero, with Claudia Kim appearing as Helen Cho, who in comic book continuity is the mother of Amadeus Cho, also known as the gamma-powered Brawn. Monica Rambeau has a curious connection to Carol Danvers, in that Monica actually preceded her as Captain Marvel by a number of decades.

Marvel has had a number of Captains Marvel throughout its history, although its first — the alien Mar-Vell, who debuted in 1967’s Marvel Super-Heroes No. 12 — was actually the third comic book hero with that name, following a lengthy run from the character now known as Shazam, and a short-lived hero from independent publisher M.F. Enterprises.

All told, Carol Danvers is the eighth Captain Marvel to be published by Marvel, despite her lengthy superheroing career — much of it spent under a variety of names, including Ms. Marvel, Warbird and Binary. By contrast, Monica Rambeau was Marvel’s second Captain Marvel, and the publisher’s first woman in the role.

Monica Rambeau turned out to be an important character in Marvel’s comic book history; one of Marvel’s first black female superheroes, she was also one of its most high-profile characters during her five-year tenure with the Avengers, a group she’d eventually lead. She was one of Marvel’s first legacy characters — a hero assuming or inheriting another hero’s costumed identity — and in many ways, a forerunner of Marvel’s recent trend to add diversity to its white, male lineup through existing properties and concepts.

That her mother is introduced in the retro setting of Captain Marvel means that, in theory, there’s an adult Monica Rambeau existing right now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, waiting for her origin story to become a superhero in her own right…something that really shouldn’t be overlooked considering that, almost 20 movies in, there’s still no superpowered women heroes of color in the MCU yet. (No, Dora Milaje and Shuri from Black Panther don’t count.) A potential, and necessary, addition to Marvel Studios’ Phase 4? We can but hope.

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