Monica Rambeau is more than sunshine and melanin, ok?
The thought on many comic book fans’ minds when realizing an adult Monica Rambeau was finally gracing the screen in the new WandaVision series must be: will sis get her powers???
Many fans, and even casual observers, or anyone that has a basic knowledge of Marvel Comics is aware that, in fact, Monica Rambeau, not Carol Danvers, was the second Captain Marvel in the Marvel Universe after Mar-Vell. And unlike Danvers, Monica has a backstory all her own. For those who aren’t aware she was exposed to extra-dimensional energy as she tried to prevent the creation of a dangerous weapon, which resulted in her getting the power to convert her body into glowing energy. Monica was called ‘Captain Marvel‘ by the media and that was why she took the mantle, not because it had anything to do with the man who had used the name before. She even got to lead the Avengers for a time or two.
So one might wonder why exactly Marvel Studios opted to gloss over this powerful, unique, dark-skinned Black American woman with natural hair in favor of the safer, and, admittedly at the time, then-and-now current character to wield the Captain Marvel title: the aforementioned Carol Danvers.
Carol Danvers, in a nutshell, received her powers when her physiology was merged with the alien Kree physiology of Mar-Vell, a Kree warrior, the title character of Captain Marvel, for whom she was his love interest. When Carol got her powers, she went by the moniker of Ms. Marvel, complete with a feminine version of his costume. Fast-forward to 2019 and we get a condensed version of this superhero origin story where instead Mar-Vell was a woman and not Carol’s love interest (nor was the star) and Carol instead was the first to go by the title of Captain Marvel.
You might be thinking, what about Monica? Well, remember that unique backstory I alluded to before? Now picture her as the young play-niece of Carol and her mother, Maria, is Carol’s Black best friend (or possible romantic partner, if you choose to believe that), who assists Carol in her endeavors. Instead of Monica having her own unique, developed backstory and plotline (that was independent of Mar-Vell or Carol), we now have a version that is intrinsically tied to Carol.
So why would the MCU be committed to sidelining and erasing the legacy of Monica in favor of highlighting Carol? One might argue it’s because Carol has more brand recognition than the then-and-still-current Captain Marvel. One might also argue that another white woman would have a better chance of competing in box office sales and fan engagement than another white woman, the DCEU’s Wonder Woman who had only premiered in her solo film two years before Captain Marvel. What do you think is the case? Could there be another reason entirely? Anything is possible. If Marvel had chosen to feature Monica as their first solo female lead for Captain Marvel, not only would it have been more true to canon. It also would have been an opportunity to beat DC to the punch in terms of showcasing a Black woman as a lead instead of simply a supporting character or part of an ensemble cast. You could have been first!
Either way, right now many fans are just excited to see Monica grown-up, played by the incredible actress Teyonah Parris who is finally getting some much-deserved and long-awaited spotlight. Will she get her literal glow-up? Will she flounder under the light, this one a crimson red, of yet another white woman (Wanda Maximoff, the lead of WandaVision)? We don’t know yet, but we are more than excited to see what will be done with Rambeau’s character.
WandaVision premieres new episodes every Friday on the Disney+ app.