Captain Marvel may be the most powerful superhero to appear in the MCU to date, but so far she’s yet to have a weakness emerge. Could that be because it’s at the center of her upcoming movie, with her being manipulated by Jude Law’s mysterious character, the commander of the Kree Starforce?
Marvel Studios has finally begun the marketing push for next year’s March superhero blockbuster, Captain Marvel. After months of silence, we’ve been given a behind-the-scenes first look that’s introduced viewers to the MCU’s version of the Skrulls, the Kree Starforce, and the alien warlord Talos. But it’s also raised a lot of questions; just how did Carol Danvers get her powers in the MCU? Why is she allied with a Kree military unit consisting of characters who, in the comics, are all villains? And is Jude Law really playing the part of Mar-Vell, or does Marvel have something else in store?
With a Captain Marvel trailer still yet to appear, information is sparse right now, but by parsing the EW reveals we’re beginning to get a sense of the full scope of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s MCU prequel. One of the most surprising is that it’s possible Captain Marvel’s greatest weakness is her own mind.
This Page: Captain Marvel’s Greatest WeaknessPage 2: How Jude Law’s Mysterious Character Fits Into ThisPage 3: What This Means for Captain Marvel and the MCU
Captain Marvel Has No Weaknesses (Yet)
According to Kevin Feige, Captain Marvel will be the most powerful hero in the MCU to date. “With Captain Marvel,” he observed, “she is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had.” Given this is a franchise that includes the likes of the mighty Thor, the incredible Hulk, and of course Thanos the Mad Titan, that’s a pretty remarkable statement. Brie Larson has gone one further; “She’s so strong,” Larson observed, “She can move planets! So, to me, it’s like how far can I go with this strength?” While it’s possible Larson was engaging in hyperbole, even as a joke this observation gives a sense of the scale Captain Marvel operates at.
As exciting as this may be, it means Marvel is faced with the problems that DC traditionally wrestle with over Superman. How can the most powerful characters possibly be defeated? How can there be any sense of risk in an adventure featuring heroes who are essentially invincible? There are only two ways to handle characters like this; the first is that you introduce a plot device to act against them, an Achilles’ Heel – the classic example being Kryptonite. The second and more dangerous route is that you simply introduce threats who are more powerful yet. The danger with this approach is that you can wind up indulging in what’s sometimes called “power creep”, where each villain’s powers are greater than the one before, and the stories gradually become fantastical and unrelatable.
It’s true that Marvel has stressed that Carol Danvers is a flawed hero. Speaking to EW, Brie Larson stressed that there’s a conflict innate to Carol’s identity, with the Kree and human parts of her working against one another. “You have this Kree part of her that’s unemotional, that is an amazing fighter and competitive,” Larson explained. “Then there’s this human part of her that is flawed but is also the thing that she ends up leading by. It’s the thing that gets her in trouble, but it’s also the thing that makes her great. And those two sides warring against each other is what makes her her.” The approach makes sense, and indeed is fairly traditional for Marvel – the comic book publisher is famous for its flawed heroes, and Marvel Studios has reproduced that on the big screen. But that’s still not enough of a weakness to compensate for the enormously elevated power-levels. There needs to be something more.
Is Captain Marvel’s Weakness Her Memories?
The solution may lie in the plot of Captain Marvel itself. Marvel has stressed that the film is no origin story; it will kick off with Carol already super-powered, serving as a member of the Kree Starforce. She’ll learn that the Skrulls are making a move on Earth, and will return to her homeworld to investigate. While on Earth, by all accounts Carol will actually begin to discover secrets that lie in her own past; it seems something has been concealed from her, that there’s a mystery at the heart of Captain Marvel’s MCU origin. But why wouldn’t Carol Danvers know her own backstory?
If we’re going to look for answers, we should cast an eye to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s popular Captain Marvel run. DeConnick is the writer who transformed Carol into an A-list hero in the comics; Marvel Studios has constantly stressed that her stories have informed the movie. DeConnick’s run began in 2012, with the writer working with artist Jamie McKelvie to dramatically redesign Captain Marvel’s costume. Significantly, the character’s MCU costume is clearly based on McKelvie’s designs.
One of DeConnick’s central plots saw Captain Marvel discover that her phenomenal powers came at a physical cost. She revealed that exposure to Kree energy had created a third lobe in Carol’s brain, one that was responsible for handling her powers. Unfortunately, excessive use of her abilities had led to Captain Marvel developing lesions on her brain. Carol began to suffer from debilitating headaches, and soon the symptoms escalated to the point that she was blacking out. The greatest strain upon Carol’s physiology came from her power of flight, a cruel twist of fate given her love of flying. Naturally, Captain Marvel refused to back down, and when a crisis came about she used her powers regardless. It led to a devastating seizure, one that erased her memories.
This idea could tie the various plot threads together quite nicely. Imagine a scenario where the MCU version of Captain Marvel is tremendously powerful, but her powers come at a terrible price; they damage her mind and even caused the loss of her memories. That would give Carol Danvers a significant weakness, and also explain why she’s unaware of her own backstory.
Jude Law Isn’t What He Seems
If Captain Marvel’s mind is actually damaged by her own powers, it wouldn’t be hard to manipulate her. That raises a disturbing question: can she really trust the Kree Starforce? They’ve been presented as heroes, but in truth every single member who’s been identified to date is traditionally a minor Marvel villain. The sole exception is Jude Law’s mysterious Starforce commander, who was originally reported to be the heroic Mar-Vell. But those initial reports were never confirmed, and Law himself has gone to great lengths to avoid naming his character. “Yes, it’s been reported I’m playing Mar-Vell,” he observed. “I’m not going to confirm or deny that.” He then swiftly changed the subject.
Law’s reticence seemed odd, but now it’s downright curious. The marketing push for Captain Marvel has made it clear that Marvel Studios is being just as secretive about Jude Law’s character; they noted that Carol Danvers has joined “an elite Kree military team called Starforce, led by Jude Law’s enigmatic commander.” That was then followed up by an interview with Law, in which EW told readers that “the filmmakers declined to reveal his name.” Pretty much the only new information we learned was that Law’s character is a devout warrior with a passionate “belief in the divine leadership of the Kree people.” That description really doesn’t match up with Mar-Vell, who betrayed his own race for the sake of humanity.
Is Jude Law Really Yon-Rogg?
If Jude Law isn’t playing Mar-Vell, then, who could he be portraying instead? The obvious answer is a Kree villain named Yon-Rogg. Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in 1967, Yon-Rogg is intimately tied to Carol Danvers’s comic book origin. Like Ronan the Accuser, Yon-Rogg believed wholeheartedly in the supremacy of the Kree race, so much so that he wished to restore the race’s warlike heritage. He worked alongside Ronan as part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Kree’s ruler, the Supreme Intelligence, and this led him into conflict with Mar-Vell. The battle between Yon-Rogg and Mar-Vell came to an end when a Kree device known as the Psyche-Magnetron exploded, apparently killing Yon-Rogg. Crucially, this same explosion transformed the nearby Carol Danvers, bonding her DNA with that of the Kree. It’s the origin of Captain Marvel’s powers.
There’s strong evidence that Law is playing Yon-Rogg. Unlike Mar-Vell, Yon-Rogg was a commander in the Kree military, and he conspired with Ronan the Accuser. Law’s brief description of his character, indicating a passionate belief in the Kree heritage, is certainly true of Yon-Rogg. And here’s the most interesting detail; Yon-Rogg was resurrected as part of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run. DeConnick revealed that the explosion of the Psyche-Magnetron had created a psychic bond between Carol and Yon-Rogg. In fact, he was personally responsible for creating her brain lesions.
The threads most definitely do tie together rather well. It’s possible that, in the MCU, Yon-Rogg was the one who survived the explosion of the Psyche-Magnetron. Realizing the powers that Carol Danvers has gained, he’s taken advantage of her memory problems to manipulate her into working with the Kree Starforce. As in the comics, he may even be responsible for Carol’s amnesia in the first place. That would explain why Captain Marvel is teamed up with a number of characters who are traditionally villains. Presumably, when Carol arrives on Earth, she’ll begin to uncover the truth.
This Theory Makes Captain Marvel Very Comic Book Accurate
This has massive implications for the MCU as a whole. Firstly, this theory turns the film’s plot into something that’s remarkably comic-book-accurate. Marvel has already confirmed that Captain Marvel will be inspired by the Kree-Skrull War in the comics, and it’s important to note that neither of the two alien races were presented as heroes in that famous arc. In an afterword for the omnibus edition, writer Thomas explained that he saw the Kree and the Skrulls as two “rapacious, galaxy-spanning races” who were locked in war. “Their conflict would be threatening to spill over onto the Earth,” he added, “turning our planet into the cosmic equivalent of some Pacific island during World War II.” Just as in the comics, then, Captain Marvel would be treating both alien races as villains.
Following on from this, though, the themes of distrust and deceit become absolutely central to the story. On the one side, we have a race of alien shapeshifters who could capture and replace anybody over the course of the film; on the other, we have a deceitful Kree commander who has rewritten Carol’s past in order to suit his own machinations. If this theory is correct, then Carol is stuck in the middle between two incredibly manipulative forces. There’s a certain irony in the fact that she’ll team up with a young Nick Fury, who would go on to become Earth’s premiere spy. “Even his secrets have secrets,” Tony Stark observed.
Captain Marvel Would Be A Victim Of Abuse
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this, though, is that it turns Captain Marvel into a story of recovery from abuse. Because that’s really what this theory suggests Yon-Rogg is doing; he’s taking advantage of a woman’s infirmity. As her commanding officer, he’s abusing his position of power and trust, manipulating Carol so she does just what he wants. Interestingly enough, there is a precedent for Carol Danvers to be portrayed as some sort of abuse victim or trauma survivor. In the 1980s, she fell prey to a cosmic being who sought to win her favor; he used advanced technology to make her fall in love with him, and then raped her. More famously, and less controversially, Carol has a history of conflict with the X-Men’s Rogue; Rogue’s absorption power severely damaged Carol’s mind, leaving her comatose for some time. It took her a long time to recover from that particular trauma.
This would be a particularly bold move for Marvel Studios, though, especially given Captain Marvel is the studio’s first solo female-led movie. And yet, it would explain why Brie Larson was drawn to the character; Larson has always been interested in rather more complex characters. Until she was cast as a Marvel superhero, Larson was best known for portraying a victim of physical and sexual abuse in Room; that part earned her an Oscar. The actress has long been a champion of abuse victims, openly refusing to clap when Casey Affleck won Best Actor in 2017. She’s also become prominent in the #MeToo movement, taking on trolls and making many important points about how reports of abuse should be dealt with. Assuming this theory is correct, Carol Danvers would be envisioned as a complex character ideally suited to a skilled actress like Larson.
Why Nick Fury Didn’t Call Captain Marvel Before
Finally, this theory may also provide an explanation to one of the greatest mysteries of the MCU; why hasn’t Nick Fury called on Captain Marvel before, and why didn’t he attempt to bring her into the Avengers Initiative? If Fury knew the cost of Captain Marvel’s powers, he’d know she was essentially a “Hail Mary” superhero – the woman you call in when every other defense has fallen. It’s even possible that Carol has been living a normal life since the ’90s, her memories of superheroism lost, and that the pager was a signal to trigger dormant memories.
It’s true that this is only a theory, but it’s quite an interesting one in that it has a strong basis in the comics, and draws together a lot of interesting narrative threads. It can’t be long until the trailer drop for Captain Marvel, which means we’ll get a lot more information. Right now, this theory seems to fit rather well; but it will be interesting to see if it continues to do so.
Read more: screenrant.com