Annette Bening recently brought Mar-Vell to the big screen, introducing a new version of the Kree warrior to the MCU. But the Mar-Vell we meet on screen isn’t quite the same as the one we know from the Silver Age of comics.
Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Mar-Vell first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (1967), he became an integral part of Marvel Comics’ roster over the next fifteen years and paved the way for a sleuth of heroes who would hold the Captain Marvel mantel after him, including Carol Danvers. Here’s what you need to know about Mar-Vell.
10 Yon-Rogg Was His Life-Long Rival
No hero is complete without an arch nemesis. Yon-Rogg, a colonel in the Imperial Kree Army, was Mar-Vell’s. Yon-Rogg was instantly jealous of the young, optimistic soldier he was partnered with. The colonel was infatuated with Una, a Space Fleet nurse who only had eyes for Mar-Vell.
With Una giving Yon-Rogg the cold shoulder, a rivalry formed between the two men. Yon-Rogg’s jealousy eventually turned to hatred, and he often tried to kill his rival. Mar-Vell would eventually defeat Yon-Rogg in a final showdown when a nearby Kree device detonated—causing an explosion that would also give Carol Danvers her powers.
9 He Became a Guardian of Earth
Becoming aware of earth’s advancing technologies, the Supreme Intelligence (a collection of some of the greatest Kree minds from history combined in a computer) wanted to infiltrate the planet, gather intelligence, and ultimately destroy it. It chose Mar-Vell as the hero for this mission and sent him to earth.
As he settled into life on the planet, he faced increasing inner conflict, torn between his duties as a Kree and wanting to protect humanity. His admiration of human life won and Mar-Vell frequently disobeyed Kree orders which threatened cause harm to his new home, earning him the title ‘Captain Marvel’.
8 He Assumed the Identity of Doctor Walter Lawson
Mar-Vell knew he would need a human alias when he first arrived on earth. He noticed that one scientist, in particular, bore a striking resemblance to him: Doctor Walter Lawson. After witnessing Lawson’s death in a tragic accident as he flew to Florida (an accident caused by Yon-Rogg, who had been aiming at his Kree rival), Mar-Vell decided to assume the doctor’s identity.
This would grant him access to government bases and information on earth’s technological advances to help advance his mission. While posing as Lawson, he befriended the chief of the security base where Lawson worked; Captain Carol Danvers.
7 He Was Bonded to Rick Jones
Rick Jones often found himself tangled up with the caped cast of Marvel Comics. He was the one Bruce Banner saved from the G-Bomb detonation, ultimately creating the Hulk, and played an integral part in forming the Avengers, who picked up his radio broadcast warning about one of Hulk’s rampages. He acted as a sidekick to Hulk and Captain America, but his closest bond is with Mar-Vell.
Finding himself trapped in the Negative Zone after saving the Supreme Intelligence from an attack by Yon-Rogg and Ronan the Accuser, the Supreme Intelligence connects Mar-Vell to Jones through Nega-Bands. When Jones hits the bands on his wrists together, he switches places with Mar-Vell for a brief period of time. The pair came to develop a close friendship, with Mar-Vell using his own life force to save Jones from death after the Supreme Intelligence manipulated their psionic link to destroy the Skrull Space Fleet during the Skrull-Kree War.
6 He was Pronounced the Protector of the Universe
Eon, the cosmic caretaker, is as old as the universe itself. His primary role is to protect life throughout the universe. This drew him to seek out the most powerful champions in the galaxy to conquer any major threats. The Kree warrior and guardian of earth captured his attention.
After persuading Mar-Vell to renounce the Kree’s warmongering ways, he granted the warrior the power of cosmic awareness and pronounced him protector of the universe. His new power was immense, giving him incredible knowledge about his opponents and their weaknesses, as well as an acute awareness of all corners of space and time.
5 Thanos was his Ultimate Foe
Jim Starlin had one of the biggest impacts on Mar-Vell’s story. He was the one to introduce Eon, the being who would grant the warrior ultimate power, but also Mar-Vell’s obsession, Thanos. Mar-Vell and Thanos faced each other numerous times, with each defeat nail-biting and narrow.
But when the Mad Titan got his hands on the Cosmic Cube, Mar-Vell became intent on finishing things once and for all. And he did (or, at least, for a while). With the help of Drax and Mantis, Mar-Vell robbed Thanos of his power and restored the universe, causing the Titan’s beloved Death to abandon him for his failure.
4 His Powers Changed
Mar-Vell received a number of upgrades to his powers over the years, transforming from a laser gun-wielding space soldier to an almighty omnipotent hero. He had incredible strength, high tolerance for harm, could survive in outer space without having to breathe, and could fly at the speed of light.
Zo would later gift him the ability to mentally project illusions, and he even had teleportation abilities for a while. Eon’s gift of cosmic awareness made him almost unstoppable. That didn’t prevent him from attaining more powers: he was later gifted the ability to absorb solar energy to fly and fight with.
3 The Death of Captain Marvel
During a battle with Nitro the “living bomb”, a member of an extremist group of Kree scientists called the Lunatic Legion, Mar-Vell became exposed to Compound 13. The exposure to this carcinogenic gas would lead to the hero developing cancer. Mar-Vell finally collapsed on Titan.
He was visited by friends and loved ones and was even awarded the Royal Skrull Medal of Valor by General Zedrao on his deathbed, marking the respect even his enemies held for the Kree warrior. With no magic cure or way out, Mar-Vell’s death was very human. He was led into the afterlife by Thanos, the Titan’s way of marking respect to his greatest foe.
Mar-Vell has briefly returned to the comics over the years. He appeared to return during Secret Invasion, but he was revealed to be a Skrull named Khn’nr. The Skrull became so embroiled in the scheme, he believed he truly was Captain Marvel, and eventually turned against his superiors to protect Earth.
The real Mar-Vell would reappear again during Chaos War, where the weakened veil between life and death allowed dead heroes to aid the living Avengers against the Chaos King. He was resurrected once more in Avengers vs X-Men, this time by the Kree who wanted his help protecting Hala from the Pheonix. In both these resurrections, Mar-Vell would sacrifice himself for the good of others.
The Captain Marvel mantle has been passed to various other superheroes since Mar-Vell’s passing. Monica Rambeau was the first to take up the title, eventually joining and leading the Avengers under the name. When Genis-Vell, Mar-Vell’s son, revealed that he wanted to assume the title in memory of his father, Monica gave up the title, becoming Photon. He was later succeeded by his younger sister, Phyla-Vell.
Skrull sleeper agent Khn’nr was the fifth hero to take up the mantle, before passing the duties of protecting earth onto Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy) upon his deathbed. It wasn’t until 2012 that Carol Danvers would give up her long-time identity as Ms. Marvel to assume the title of Captain Marvel.