How Monica Rambeau’s comic backstory changes in Captain Marvel


Monica Rambeau is a starry-eyed kid in Captain Marvel. How does that compare with her comic history, and what does this mean for her movie future?

WARNING: Spoilers for Captain Marvel movie below.

In Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau makes her appearance as the elementary-aged daughter of U.S. Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau. She’s admittedly a secondary character, but one that could have an even bigger future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, if we’re to take cues from her comic-based adventures.

When you open up the comics concerning Monica, you’re bound to get a pretty different story. First of all, Monica actually preceded Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, being the second person to take on the title after the original Captain Mar-Vell. And she didn’t show up as as a starry-eyed kid, though that was a pretty compelling part of the Captain Marvel movie.

Rather, Monica Rambeau first appears in 1982, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16. She later appeared in The Avengers, going so far as to become the leader of the team. First, however, she starts off as a lieutenant in the New Orleans harbor patrol. Much like Carol Danvers, Rambeau attempts to thwart the creation of a massive weapon.

Ultimately, this means that she gets irradiated and, instead of developing a horrible disease, Monica gains superpowers. Specifically, she can convert her body to energy. It’s so impressive that the local press starts calling her “Captain Marvel.” It sticks, and Monica goes on to fight crime on Earth and beyond.

Her powers generally focus on “energy,” encompassing a wide range of electromagnetic forces like visible light, infrared, microwaves, cosmic radiation, and more. Rambeau can fly, of course, and is often invisible unless she chooses to present herself on the visible light spectrum.

Since she’s been on the comics page for over 30 years, Monica Rambeau’s story has grown pretty complicated. Besides working with the Avengers, she’s also fought Dracula (yes, that Dracula) alongside Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch. She loses her powers at one point, though she does regain them after taking some time off. Eventually, she goes by Photon, Daystar, and Pulsar.

In the Infinity storyline, Monica jumps names yet again and becomes Spectrum. In Secret Wars, she’s all set to destroy another version of Earth that’s on a collision course with our own — alternate dimensions get real pesky that way — and almost succeeds before she’s stopped.

This is all dramatically different from the Monica we see in the film version of Captain Marvel. Instead of being a fellow superhero, Carol Danvers is her Auntie Carol, who remained beloved and remembered even after Danvers seemingly disappeared in 1989.

This isn’t to say that Monica doesn’t have an important role in this film and beyond. For one, Monica’s got a part in the new Captain Marvel color scheme, once Carol decides she can’t rightfully wear Kree colors, especially since she’s fighting against her former Kree teammates.

Many fans are speculating that the movie version of Monica Rambeau will have a greater role in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All of that enthusiasm for science and adventure have to go somewhere, right? In the MCU, this sort of thing is often telegraphed well in advance.

There’s no reason that the modern-day Carol wouldn’t meet up with an older Monica during or after the events of Avengers: Endgame. While it wouldn’t be surprising to see a grown-up Monica Rambeau becoming her own hero, what with the comics background informing things, it would be deeply satisfying.

We break down the history of Captain Marvel from comics to film here:

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