WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
Speculation began from the moment Jude Law was cast in Captain Marvel that the Oscar nominee would play Mar-Vell -- that is, the Kree hero who originally went by the name Captain Marvel in the comics -- even when signs began to point to the classic foe Yon-Rogg. But Mar-Vell does appear in the Marvel Studios film; it just turns out fans were focusing on the wrong cast member.
Annette Bening recently surprised virtually everyone by confirming her long-mysterious role is that of the Supreme Intelligence, leader of the alien Kree and the embodiment of the collective knowledge of the greatest minds of the species. However, she wasn't telling the whole story. To communicate with Brie Larson's Carol Danvers, then the purported Kree warrior Vers with little knowledge of her own past, the Supreme Intelligence assumes the form of someone from her consciousness whom she can trust: her former mentor, Dr. Wendy Lawson. But there's another layer, as Lawson was merely a disguise for a Kree scientist named ... Mar-Vell.
It's a surprise twist intended as an homage to Captain Marvel's comic book history. But it will no doubt further inflame those corners of fandom that, frankly, don't need another reason to be upset with the film. That's because, before they were aggrieved by the lack of smiling in the trailer, the choice of costume, the film's feminist themes or comments made by Larson about diversity (which, it turn, led to the review bombing of Rotten Tomatoes), many were displeased that it was Carol Danvers, and not Mar-Vell, receiving the cinematic treatment.
So, they get Mar-Vell, only as played by four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening.
The Death of Mar-Vell
The circumstances under which Larson's Carol Danvers gained her powers remain a mystery for much of Captain Marvel, as her memory is all but gone, and only jostled when the shape-shifting Skrulls attempt to search through it themselves. Discovering that she was an U.S. Air Force pilot before she was purportedly killed while testing an experimental craft with her friend and mentor Dr. Lawson, Danvers finally regains her full memory of the fateful day.
After their ship is shot down, Lawson reveals she's actually an alien scientist known as Mar-Vell. Desperate to keep the energy source of her intergalactic engine from the militaristic Kree, Mar-Vell attempts to destroy the core of the ship. But Lawson is shot and killed by Kree military commander Yon-Rogg before she can finish the job. Carol picks up the gun and shoots the engine, causing it to explode and bathe her in cosmic energies. The act grants her the powers that make her arguably the strongest person in the entire MCU.