The Marvels is a 2023 movie from Marvel Studios. It features the characters Carol Danvers, Monica Rambeau, and Kamala Khan. These characters are all connected in some way to the name Captain Marvel.
The Marvels is actually the sequel to 2019’s Captain Marvel, which is both Marvel’s first female-led superhero movie. It also continues the story of the Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, a series that introduces Kamala Khan and her journey to becoming the hero of Jersey City.
A third continuing storyline is that of Monica Rambeau. She is the daughter of Carol Danvers’s best friend, Maria Rambeau. As a child, Monicaa looked up to her auntie Carol. After growing up, she joined S.W.O.R.D., the organization created by her mother. This sent her on a long journey which eventually sent her into space.
These characters on three separate journeys become inseparably entwined in The Marvels. This movie pays homage to a character with a long history in the comics. At the same time, it also makes changes to the source material to tell a new story.
The MarvelsThe Marvels is about the connection between three women. Captain Marvel, a.k.a Carol Danvers, is an intergalactic hero. Kamala Khan, aka. Miss Marvel, is a teenager fighting crime in Jersey City. Finally, Monica Rambeau is a government agent.
At first, their only connection is the fact they keep switching places whenever they use their powers at the same time. This is the inciting incident of the movie. The movie starts with Carol fighting against the Kree army.
The Kree are an intergalactic empire and longtime enemy of the Skrull. Their leader wears a bangle capable of absorbing Carol’s powers, and this bangle is one half of a device that opens portals in space and time. This causes Carol to become entangled with Kamala, who wears the other bangle on her arm.
Due to Carol, Monica, and Kamala sharing light-based powers their powers become linked. Whenever two of them use their powers at the same time, they swap places. As a result, the three of them decide to team up. After all, staying in the same place makes their swapping more manageable!
At the same time, they learn the Kree leader’s plans for the bangle. Hence, the three of them work together to retrieve the other bangle, but as the movie continues, the three Marvels share more than just their powers.
Monica and Kamala both share a hero worship of Captain Marvel, but it looks different for each girl. Kamala is actually a fangirl who writes fanfiction about the Avenger Captain Marvel and cosplays as her at conventions. Monica grew up idolizing her only to feel abandoned when Carol left for space and never returned.
Meet the Marvels: Carol DanverWho is Carol Danvers? That’s the question both Captain Marvel and The Marvels set out to ask.
Both comic and cinema versions of Carol Danvers have her as an air force pilot with a relationship to an alien named Mar-Vell.
In the comics, Carol Danvers gained her powers from an alien device giving her Kree DNA. She later experienced blackouts during which her body changed into a Kree warrior calling herself “Ms. Marvel’. When she accepts both sides of herself, Carol gain control of her powers.
Identity issues are a long-running theme of Carol Danvers’s character. She once lost both her memories and powers. During that time the X-men took her in and she went by the name Binary.
She actually does not call herself Captain Marvel until her 2012 series. This takes place after the “House of M” event, where Carol sees an alternate reality version of herself acting as Earth’s strongest hero.
MCU Captain Marvel
The movie skips most of Carol’s history and adapts her 2012 version.
The MCU version does integrate a lot of Carol’s identity issues from the comics to the character. Yet here, she does not start at Carol Danvers, but Vers. An amnesiac Kree soldier hunting down the Skrull, Vers’ mission strands her on Earth. There, she rediscovers her past as Carol Danvers. Her powers come from a faster-than-light engine belting her with cosmic energy.
In both comics and cinema, Carol is a more morally gray character. She has too much power and sometimes wields that power in the wrong way. For example, in the Civil War 2 Event, Carol uses the visions of an inhuman Ulysses to arrest people before they commit future crimes. The Kree even call Carol “The Destroyer” in The Marvels. This is because she once used her power to kill their leader, plunging their empire into a ruinous civil war.
Meet the Marvels: Monica RambeauMonica Rambeau is the character that the movie most changes from the comics.
In the comics, Monica was Captain Marvel before Carol. She’s a far more independent character with little connection to Carol.
Comic Monica Rambeau is a lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbor Patrol. On a solo mission to stop a dangerous weapon, she ends up exposed to extra-dimensional energy. This gives her the ability to convert her body into any wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum.
Admittedly, Monica is a character with an unstable place in the Marvel comics. She becomes a hero competent enough to lead the Avengers at one point. However, her tenure as leader ends when a colleague sabotages her and she loses her powers. Since then, Monica’s power set and name have been changed multiple times.
However, the MCU adapts her role to more of a side character in Carol’s story. She appears as a young kid who looked up to her auntie Carol. Hence, her character is tied up with a lot of angst over her perceived abandonment.
The MCU Monica is less independent. She joins an agency that her mother created. Monica also gains her powers from Wanda, or Scarlet Witch’s actions rather than her own. She is a side character in both Wandavision and The Marvels rather than her own lead.
However, the tradeoff of sacrificing her independence is that Monica’s place in the story is more definite. In the comics, her character varies depending on what team she’s on. Her constant name changes reflect her inconsistent place in the Marvel Universe. The movie version streamlines her character, making her a far more consistent character.
However, making her a side character to Carol is still a bit of a missed opportunity. In the comics, Monica’s powers are stronger. She once attempted to use them to destroy a whole universe. Perhaps in a sequel, Monica will be the main character of her own story.
Meet the Marvels: Kamala KhanOf the Marvel,s Kamala Khan is the most unchanged from her comic book version. Perhaps because her comic book version is wildly successful.
In both versions, Kamala is a young Pakistani girl living in Jersey. She writes fanfiction of the Avengers and her favorite hero is Captain Marvel. An incident gives her the same powers as the hero she looks up to. Kamala slowly gains confidence from being a small-time hero on the streets to becoming a hero worthy of the Avengers.
Both the MCU and comics focus on her family life and hero life equally. Kamala’s parents and brother show up as major characters in both Ms. Marvel and The Marvels.
The main difference from comics to MCU is how Kamala gets her powers. In the comics, Kamala i exposed to the Terrigen mist which activates her latent Inhuman abilities. The Kree created the Inhumans by experimenting on regular humans long ago in Earth’s history. Thus, Kamala’s abilities come from Inhuman DNA somewhere in her family tree.
Kamala Khan: Ms. Marvel and Mutant
In the MCU, though, she is a mixed-blood descendant of the Clandestine. They are a race of refugees from another dimension. Her powers awaken because of her bangle. Yes, that same bangle is capable of creating portals in space and time known as jump points.
However, the last episode of Ms. Marvel reveals Kamala to also be the MCU’s first mutant. Mutants like X-men awaken their powers through a genetic mutation.
Kamala’s powers are different in each version as well. In the comics comics Kamala “embiggens” herself, growing or shrinking parts of her body. The MCU changes her powers into hard light projections she can create in any shape. This change is likely to make her powers closer to Monica and Carol’s as all three control light or radiation.
The Legacy of Captain MarvelIn conclusion, the movie changes a lot from the comic book versions of these characters. In fact, these three characters do not even interact much in the comics. Monica and Carol do not have a relationship. Carol is not much more than an idol for Kamala to look up to.
However, in making these changes, the The Marvels creates a unique opportunity for these three characters to foil each other and interact. The result is a movie with three female leads, two of them women of color. Arguably, this adaptation also stays true to the heart of each character.
Who Are The Marvels?
Carol Danvers is a character beaten down by life who keeps going. As reflected by her struggling with her troubled past throughout the movie. Except in this version, she finds the strength to overcome through her connection to Monica.
Monica Rambeau is still a person gifted with amazing powers unsure of her place in the world. While she begins as a side character in Carol’s story arguably by the end of the movie she comes into her own as a character. It’s Monica who comes up with a plan to save the day when the bangles tear a hole in space-time. Her decision to sacrifice herself fixes things.
She does not even die as a result of her sacrifice. Monica wakes up in a parallel universe where her mother is the hero rather than Danvers. As she is going by the name Binary she likely becomes Captain Marvel in that world.
Kamala is a character who goes from worshipping her heroes to learning they are flawed people. In the movie, her relationship with Carol is arguably closer than her comic book version. She also ends the movie with the confidence to start her own Young Avengers initiative.
Marvel’s Greatest HeroesThe result is a film that looks critically at Captain Marvel and her legacy. If the original Captain Marvel film is about Carol Danvers figuring out who she is and owning her power then the second movie continues that. This time it’s analyzing the impact Captain Marvel had on two people she inspired.
It’s a movie that’s fundamentally about exploring the complex relationship between these three female characters. You gain insight into each of these characters because the movie brought them together. Not only does it closely analyze the legacy of Captain Marvel. It also passes the torch to Ms. Marvel and a new generation by the end.
This is because the story allows Kamala to go through an arc learning more about her hero and herself. It also paves the way for Kamala to create her own team to succeed the previous generation. Not only does this movie tell a new story by making changes from the source material. It also hopefully creates fan interest in the comic book versions of these characters.
If you’re one of these people, then once you’re done with the movie, pick up a comic book!