Ever since his casting, speculation has swirled around who actor Jude Law plays in the highly anticipated Captain Marvel. The answer finally arrived on Thursday in a since-revised caption on the film's website that confirmed he is, indeed, Mar-Vell, who in the comics is the original Captain Marvel. Although the leak no doubt resulted in high-fives shared among fans who deduced the character's identity from the get-go, it's ultimately unlikely to matter whether Law is portraying Mar-Vell, another character with deep Marvel Comics roots, or one created specifically for the film.
It was been widely predicted that Law's Starforce commander, no matter what his name is, will initially serve as mentor to Brie Larson's Carol Danvers, before becoming a principal antagonist, in a turn not unlike Liam Neeson's role in Batman Begins. That potential heel turn was further fueled by purported merchandising leak suggesting that Law's character is Yon-Rogg, a Kree rival of Mar-Vell and one of Carol Danvers' foes.
While the latest leak may not completely confirm the identity of Law's character, that it comes from Disney certainly lends credence to the possibility. And while Law may portray a traditionally heroic character, that doesn't alter his speculated arc.
Mar-Vell was always going to exist in some capacity in Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers' own superhero origins are so intrinsically linked to the Kree warrior that anything without him would be a radical departure from the source material; it is, after all where the moniker "Captain Marvel" originates. And given that Law's character both leads Starforce and trains Carol in the use of her powers, that link to her origin story remains.
Mar-Vell's anticipated descent into villainy may seem confusing, but only if you don't consider the other depicted members of Starforce. Among the peacekeepers seen in the film so far are Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva and Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, alongside Djimon Hounsou reprising his Guardians of the Galaxy villain role as Korath. Both Kree characters are recurring villains for Captain Marvel, with Mar-Vell also seen in trailers and photos sharing scene with Guardians of the Galaxy's principal antagonist Ronan the Accuser. It also shouldn't be dismissed that, in the comics, Starforce is a team of supervillains.
That suggests the Marvel Cinematic Universe incarnation of Mar-Vell may be something of an amalgamation of the comic book character of the same name and Yon-Rogg, providing the film with a mentor and another villain, all at once. That isn't to say the more heroic, noble elements of Mar-Vell won't re-emerge as the war between the Skrulls and the Kree escalates, but the secrecy surrounding Law's character certainly hints there is more to him than the source material would suggest. It would also be the perfect way to subvert audience expectations.
A villainous Mar-Vell is, admittedly a big departure, but it's looking increasingly likely. Marvel Studios has taken liberties with its renditions of comic book characters in service to the story, from Ego the Living Planet changing to become the father of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to longtime heroic S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives Alexander Pierce and Jasper Sitwell being revealed as Hydra sleeper agents in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Why Carol would take on the Captain Marvel moniker after an expected falling out with Mar-Vell has yet to be seen, but the character's villainous trajectory will likely remain the same. Law's Captain Marvel role may have been accidentally leaked by Disney, but all the expectations surrounding the part he plays in the story should not change. As the old saying goes, what's in a name?
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a script they wrote with Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as the commander of Starforce, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, and Ben Mendelsohn, Lashana Lynch, Algenis Perez Soto, McKenna Grace and Annette Bening in as-yet-undisclosed roles. The film arrives on March 8, 2019.