Everyone in America is getting ready for the long weekend, which means it’s obviously time for some big last-minute franchise news. A few hours ago, we got word that Jude Law would be joining Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers as a mentor of sorts in Captain Marvel (2019), which left just enough room to speculate over Thanksgiving. The obvious choice would be Mar-Vell, predecessor to Carol taking up the Marvel mantle. As it turns out, there’s no more need for guessing games Per Variety’s update, Law will in fact play Dr. Walter Lawson, a.k.a. the Kree warrior Mar-Vell and the original Captain Marvel.
People have been somewhat torn about this possibility ever since the film was announced in 2014. This is Marvel Studios’ first film with a solo female lead, and since Carol’s comic popularity has surpassed both Mar-Vell’s and even DC’s Shazam (originally known as Captain Marvel as well; a comics history lesson for another time), it’s worth asking if she ought to remain a legacy character who got her whole gimmick from a dude. That’s certainly one element of the conversation, and it plays into the broader dynamic of trying to diversify Marvel (and DC) properties in print when the superhero concept is already so heavily based on IP and familiar image. Amadeus Cho is the Hulk, Jane Foster is Thor, Miles Morales is Spider-Man, and Riri Williams took over from Tony Stark as Ironheart, so it’s a question worth asking, even if one falls on the side of keeping this particular legacy element intact.
Personally, I’m in favour of having Mar-Vell be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Carol spent decades living in his shadow as Ms. Marvel even after he died (though she came into her own in the mid-2000s while still holding the secondary title), this film will undoubtedly see her take up the mantle. More importantly though, legacy is a key part of Carol’s character, and some of her most interesting stories revolve around the struggle of moving forward as her own hero while still trying to find ways to be respectful and pay tribute to those who came before her. While it’s a shame we probably won’t see Monica Rambeau, the first woman to hold the title of Captain Marvel (albeit without any relation to Mar-Vell, though Carol did ask for her blessing regardless), legacy has become an important part of the “Marvel” title and identity.
Carol’s costume is fashioned as a cross between Mar-Vell’s, her own outfit as Ms. Marvel (mostly the red sash) and uniform she wore in the Air Force, just as new Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan struggles with living up to Carol’s legacy and creates an outfit based on both Carol’s new colour scheme, her old logo, and the traditional South Asian salwar kameez. Just as Kamala feels like the kind of legacy character you couldn’t have without Carol, the situation with Mar-Vell could feel similar depending on which stories you’ve read. And while it’s certainly not vital the exact same way, it’s made for some damn interesting material in the past.
Legacy is going to start becoming an interesting element of the MCU moving forward. We’ve already seen Scott Lang inherit the Ant-Man outfit from Hank Pym, with Pym’s daughter Hope set to inherit The Wasp from her mother Janet in the sequel. T’Challa’s going to be dealing with carrying on the mantle of Black Panther soon, Miles Morales was already teased in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Kamala Khan will probably show up sometime in the next five years. As this “Phase” of Marvel is set to end, with the likes of Chris Evans possibly leaving the franchise, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for someone like Bucky or The Falcon to become Captain America – but I’m getting ahead of myself. Point being, having Carol wrestle with this legacy will probably feel right at home by the time we get to it, so I’m excited to see what Mar-Vell’s inclusion means.
Captain Marvel hits theatres March 8th 2019.