This classic Marvel Comics character’s gender was changed for their MCU debut.
FULL SPOILERS ahead for Captain Marvel!
Annette Bening plays the original Captain Marvel, the Kree agent known as Mar-Vell, in the new MCU movie of the same name. The Oscar nominee’s character had been shrouded in mystery leading up the film’s release.
As it turns out, Bening pulls triple duty in the film. Not only is she the first Captain Marvel, but her character Mar-Vell also operates under the guise of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. scientist Dr. Wendy Lawson. Both Mar-Vell and Lawson were male characters in the original Marvel Comics, the latter appearing in 1967’s Marvel Super Heroes #13 as Dr. Walter Lawson.
Walter Lawson was a human scientist who died when double-crossing Kree commander Yon-Rogg (played in the film by Jude Law) betrayed and tried to kill Mar-Vell, shooting down Lawson’s plane in the process. Mar-Vell then assumed Lawson’s identity to investigate and uncover what Yon-Rogg was plotting for Earth.
In the Captain Marvel film, Dr. Wendy Lawson is a pseudonym assumed by Bening’s Mar-Vell so that she can experiment on the Tesseract (which is in SHIELD custody) in order to create a device capable of hyperspace capability. Lawson/Mar-Vell became sympathetic to the Skrulls and wanted her scientific creation to help end the long war between their two civilizations. The movie pays further homage to those classic comics by having Yon-Rogg be responsible for shooting down Lawson and Carol Danvers’ aircraft.
The third character Bening plays in the film is the Supreme Intelligence, the AI being that rules the Kree. Unlike its comics counterpart, which is basically a giant green head, the movie’s Supreme Intelligence appears to any communing Kree as someone they admire and respect. In the case of Carol Danvers, the Supreme Intelligence appears as her mentor Mar-Vell/Lawson, although Carol doesn’t realize who that is until later in the film.
As the Supreme Intelligence, Bening also sports a head of white hair, which may be a nod to Mar-Vell’s silvery mane in Marvel Comics’ classic Kree-Skrull War storyline.
For more on Captain Marvel, check out our review, watch the cast pick which Avenger Captain Marvel could beat in a fight, get the reason why Nick Fury hasn’t mentioned Captain Marvel before, find out how the film pays tribute to Stan Lee, and learn all you need to know about Captain Marvel’s cat Goose.