WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
The Supreme Intelligence has been a consistent presence within the Kree Empire in almost every incarnation of the alien race. Each time the Kree are brought into a new take on the Marvel Universe, it's not long before their seemingly all-knowing leader makes an appearance. That holds true with Captain Marvel.
However, the Marvel Cinematic Universe version is arguably the best, and most complex, take on the concept yet, presenting a quietly manipulative, and surprisingly versatile, antagonist. In doing so, Captain Marvel introduces one of the most engaging foes to the MCU going forward.
The Brainy One
Debuting in 1967 in Fantastic Four #65, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Supreme Intelligence is composed of the collective knowledge of the Kree's greatest minds. The Intelligence has come into conflict with the Avengers multiple times, and used quintessential sidekick Rick Jones as a conduit to regain power after the events of the Kree-Skrull War.
Traditionally depicted as an enormous, floating green head, the character has been killed and deposed multiple times, but always ends up back in control of the Kree, determined to expand the empire's influence and enhance the genetic potential of the species.
The Way It Works
In the film's opening, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is an amnesiac member of Starforce, an elite Kree military task force led by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). She's brought to the Supreme Intelligence, who interacts with Carol (then known as Vers) by entering her consciousness and inspiring her to be the best warrior possible. Instead of being represented by a giant head within a glass tank, the Supreme Intelligence in Captain Marvel is alters its appearance to suit the person with whom it speaks.
When talking to Captain Marvel, the Intelligence appears the form of woman later revealed to be Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), Carol Danvers' former mentor on Earth (but in reality the Kree scientist Mar-Vell in disguise). Although Vers has no idea who the woman is, her image is clearly meant to create feelings of trust. It's manipulative and effective.
The next time Carol confronts the Supreme Intelligence, it's with the full knowledge of who she is, and who Mar-Vell really was. The Supreme Intelligence is still outwardly friendly, but with a hint of malice to her words. The Intelligence still appears as Mar-Vell, but with now with a swagger that the scientist never displays in Carol's memories. She throws Carol for a loop, using a previously introduced power dampener to try and restrain her. However, Carol is able to overpower the Intelligence and free herself from her own doubts, just in time to help stop Ronan from bombing Earth. She breaks free, and overcomes the limitations the Supreme Intelligence tried to place on her.
How (And Why) It Stands Out
The Supreme Intelligence is not typically depicted as a subtle villain. After all, it's a giant alien head in a jar that yells about eugenics. But the MCU incarnation is made more quietly intimidating, and to convince potential dissidents to follow it on their own accord. Changing its means of communication, makes the conflict completely cerebral.
It also makes the Supreme Intelligence a more elusive enemy, who can't be cornered or directly confronted. It can be wherever the Kree Empire touches, which is a surprisingly vast stretch of the galaxy.
The Supreme Intelligence also notably suffers no real loss by the end of the film. Although the Skrulls escape, and most of Starforce is incapacitated, Carol ultimately sends Yon-Rogg back to the Kree home world Hala with a warning that she will come for them. While that may be a good deterrent, it certainly doesn't stop the Supreme Intelligence from scheming against Carol, the Skrulls or Earth. Being able to shift appearance means the Intelligence could morph with the MCU, changing to better fit whatever hero or villain it confronts.
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, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, McKenna Grace as a young Carol Danvers and Annette Bening as Mar-Vell/the Supreme Intelligence.