Marvel Studios is continuing to attract huge stars to its superhero movies. Recently, it was revealed that Jude Law would be joining the cast of the 2019 film Captain Marvel. He’s starring opposite Brie Larson, who portrays the titular character.
So what will Law’s role be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Here’s what we know from the comics. (Warning: Depending on how faithful the movie is to the source material, there may be spoilers for Captain Marvel ahead.)
He will be playing Mar-Vell, the male lead
When the report of Jude Law being in Captain Marvel came out, it was not initially clear who he would be playing. All we knew was that he was going to be the main male lead in the film starring opposite Brie Larson.
Immediately, fans began to speculate that he could be playing the comic book character Mar-Vell. Variety subsequently confirmed that this is indeed who Law will play in the movie. They noted that Law’s character is “a mentor of sorts to Danvers as she tries to figure out her new powers.”
In the comics, his character was the original Captain Marvel
One thing that’s important to know about Captain Marvel is that many characters have taken this name over the years. In the upcoming film, Captain Marvel is Carol Danvers, Brie Larson’s character. But Danvers only took on the name Captain Marvel in 2012. She was previously known as Ms. Marvel in the comics.
The first time we were ever introduced to someone called Captain Marvel, the character was a man who was referred to as Mar-Vell. He also used the pseudonym Walter Lawson. It’s this character who Jude Law has been confirmed to play.
This calls to mind Marvel’s 2015 film Ant-Man. Ant-Man is a character who in the comics was originally Hank Pym. Later, Scott Lang became Ant-Man. When Marvel made their Ant-Man movie, Paul Rudd played Scott Lang, who became the titular hero. But Hank Pym was still in the movie, being played by Michael Douglass and serving as the mentor.
He’s a Kree alien sent to Earth to observe humanity
In the comics, the character Jude Law is set to play is not actually human. He’s a member of the Kree race. We’ve already seen the Krees in the Guardians of the Galaxy films. The blue-skinned villain of the first Guardians, Ronan the Accuser, was a Kree.
Mar-Vell starts off as a member of the Kree militia. He’s sent to Earth in order to observe humanity and determine whether they are a threat to the Kree, especially keeping an eye on what weapons they have. Mar-Vell takes on the identity of Walter Lawson, a scientist who dies in a plane crash and happens to look a lot like him. He begins to be called Captain Marvel because people start mispronouncing his name.
It’s worth noting that the archnemesis of the Kree people are the Skrulls. We haven’t seen the Skrulls in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, but they’ll be introduced in Captain Marvel.
He begins to show affection for humanity and becomes a hero
After spending time on Earth, Mar-Vell begins to grow fond of humans and even helps to save them sometimes. This is an issue not only because he’s no longer acting in the interests of the Kree people but because affection is discouraged by the Kree.
For a while, Mar-Vell tries to pass it off like he’s still on the side of the Kree, making excuses for his heroic actions on Earth. But eventually, the Kree Empire finds him guilty of treason and sentences him to death. He escapes but gets lost adrift in space, only to be found by Ronan the Accuser. The Kree need his help with something, and so he’s given greater abilities and a costume, becoming much more like a traditional superhero.
In future comics, Mar-Vell continues to fight on the side of the heroes, helping out the Avengers and Spider-Man. He also battles against Thanos, being the one to shatter Thanos’ Cosmic Cube. In most of the comics, Mar-Vell’s powers are connected to devices he wears called nega-bands; he does not naturally have superpowers.
Carol Danvers’ origin story is connected to Mar-Vell
In the comics, Mar-Vell is directly connected to the origin story of Carol Danvers. We originally meet Danvers as an Air Force officer. She works at the same military base where Walter Lawson worked, and so she soon meets Captain Marvel, who is pretending to be Lawson. The two become close, and Danvers ends up being Mar-Vell’s love interest.
Eventually, Danvers is kidnapped by a villainous alien, and Mar-Vell comes to her aid. However, in the ensuing chaos, Danvers is knocked into a Kree device, which messes with her genetics and, due to the presence of Mar-Vell, turns her into a half-human half-Kree. After this explosion, she emerges with superhuman abilities, and she soon becomes Ms. Marvel.
It’s unclear how much of this will happen in the upcoming movie. But in the comics, at least, Mar-Vell is important because he’s the whole reason Carol Danvers got powers in the first place.
He eventually dies of cancer
During one adventure, Captain Marvel is exposed to nerve gas known as Compound 13. Years later, it’s revealed that he has cancer as a result of this gas. No treatments work on him, and so he dies in the 1982 comic, The Death of Captain Marvel.
It’s rare to see a hero die of something like cancer in comic books, but that’s exactly what happens with this storyline. For years, Marvel continued to tease a plot in which Mar-Vell permanently returned. But it never happened, though he did occasionally make brief appearances after his death.
It’s not entirely clear whether Captain Marvel will depict the death of Jude Law’s character or whether they will alter the storyline in order to have him live into future movies. However, most fans believe he will have cancer from the beginning of the movie and will die by the end of it.
Other characters take on the Captain Marvel name after Mar-Vell’s death
The same year that The Death of Captain Marvel was published, another Captain Marvel was introduced. This one was a woman named Monica Rambeau, a police lieutenant who can transform into any kind of energy. After being given the name Captain Marvel, she joined the Avengers and eventually became the group’s leader.
In 1993, a new character took on the name Captain Marvel: Genis-Vell, the son of Mar-Vell. Later, Genis-Vell’s sister Phyla-Vell became Captain Marvel. Most recently, in 2012, Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel.
Danvers had been around for decades, but she had previously been known as Ms. Marvel. After donning the name, Danvers joined the Avengers. She continues to lead Marvel comics to this day, with the series The Mighty Captain Marvel beginning in early 2017.
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