WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
There have been multiple Marvel comics that have gone by the title of Captain Marvel over the decades. While this may have been done in part to keep the trademark for the name out of the hands of DC, it also led to the side effect of a number of different heroes bearing the name.
Most important is the current hero with that title, Carol Danvers, the main character of the MCU's latest film, but she isn't the only other person in the movie who could go by that name -- and we're not talking about Mar-Vell. Captain Marvel also introduces Monica Rambeau, who might just turn out to be the next Captain Marvel.
The Woman Of Many Names
Created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., Monica Rambeau debuted in 1982's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16. Bombarded with radiation from an other dimension, Monica gained the ability to convert her body into pure energy. This potentially makes her one of the most powerful and versatile members of the Avengers, especially once she learned how to control and hone her powers so that she could transform her entire body or just blast energy from her hands. She initially received the name Captain Marvel via the press, but eventually embraced it.
Stern brought the new hero with him when he took over writing duties for Avengers, making the then-new Captain Marvel into a major member, even taking over as the leader for a time. Rambeau was a consistent reserve member of the team after Stern's run concluded, before eventually relinquishing the name to the original Mar-Vell's son, Genis, at which point she took on the new codename, Photon. After Genis also stole that name from her, Monica became known as Pulsar, and after that, Spectrum. She joined the cast of the Warren Ellis/Stuart Immonen Nextwave comic before eventually ending up as a major member of the Mighty Avengers and, following Secret Wars, the Ultimates. She's currently one of the Avengers featured in the No Road Home miniseries, fighting alongside other classic members of the team.
Audiences aren't introduced to that kind of Monica in Captain Marvel. The film takes place in 1995, where the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the character is revealed to have extremely close ties to Carol Danvers. Danvers turns out to have been best friends with Monica's mother, Maria, and is something of an honorary aunt to Monica, who made sure to keep all her things after Carol was apparently killed seven years prior to the events of the film.
As you would expect, when Carol rediscovers the Rambeaus, Monica is ecstatic. She ends up playing a small but important role in the narrative, helping Carol rediscover her humanity by reminding her of the woman she used to be. She also pushes her mother, Maria, to help their long lost family member. Maria ends up proving crucial to their escape, rediscovering her own flying skills in time to evade and bring down the pursuing Minn-Erva.
Monica even helps design the new red, blue and yellow scheme Captain Marvel adopts, the colors of the United States Air Force, reinforcing the connection Carol has to her past as a pilot. Eventually, Carol even mentions that Monica will have to stay on the sidelines until she gets her own powers, a subtle nod to what longtime Marvel readers hope is in the young lady's future.
With Avengers: Endgame promising to open a new chapter of the MCU, it's important for the next films to introduce new characters and heroes who can take on threats going forward. Of the original Avengers, only Black Widow has a film announced for Phase 4, and even that will be a prequel. More heroes are going to need to be introduced, and Monica Rambeau is the perfect candidate. She has a tremendously visual power set that would place her among the stronger members of the Avengers. Her history in the various kinds of comics she's appeared in proves that she can be a somewhat malleable hero, allowing her to have a spot in the MCU's future no matter what direction it takes.
Having her introduced in Captain Marvel also gives fans an automatic reason to like her, and to see her relationship with Carol grow in the modern day. Marvel may have set the stage for a number of developments down the line in Captain Marvel, but the possibility of Monica Rambeau becoming her own hero might be one of the most exciting.
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 Mar-Vell, 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 and Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau. The film is now playing.