WandaVision viewers finally got a glimpse of something long-awaited in episode 7, “Breaking the Fourth Wall,” pertaining to Teyonah Parris’s Monica Rambeau. The character has a long surprising history in Marvel Comics, but it might not necessarily be reflected in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Here’s a rundown of what you should know about “Photon” and her comics connection to Captain Marvel.
[Spoiler alert: Huge spoilers for WandaVision moving forward.]
Before ‘WandaVision’, Monica Rambeau debuted in 1982
After hinting in previous episodes of WandaVision that her exposure to Westview had altered her physiology, Monica Rambeau crosses the barrier again and emerges on the other side with light blue eyes and the ability to see some sort of electromagnetic radiation.
As many fans had predicted, the Hex has given Rambeau her superpowers from the pages of Marvel Comics, where she is better known as Photon, or Spectrum, or Pulsar, or… Captain Marvel? Yeah, you read that right.
Originally debuting in a Spider-Man annual issue from 1982, Rambeau in the comics was originally a member of the New Orleans harbor patrol. After inspecting an experimental weapon one day, she is exposed to extra-dimensional energies and given her established powerset: the ability to see, control, and convert her body into any type of electromagnetic radiation.
Turning to the life of a crimefighter, the press eventually dubs Rambeau the new “Captain Marvel,” after the original Kree soldier/superhero Mar-Vell, who had been killed off that same year. Yes, decades before Carol Danvers made the name her own, Rambeau became the second Captain Marvel and the first woman to ever hold the title.
So why did Carol Danvers get the spotlight when she took over the role, instead of Rambeau? The truth is that Captain Marvel had never that popular of character in his own right, easily dwarfed over the years by Danvers as his female spin-off character, Danvers as Ms. Marvel.
When Ms. Marvel stepped up to Captain Marvel, she brought her own longstanding renown and fanbase with her to the new title. Rambeau was, at the time, just a new character inheriting a relatively unpopular name. That’s the way things go, sadly.
How will this affect the future of the MCU?
In the MCU as it stands, Rambeau’s history as Captain Marvel will likely never be touched on. Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers leapfrogged over her comic counterpart’s time as Ms. Marvel and went straight to being the Captain modern fans know and love.
As for where that leaves Rambeau after WandaVision, a quick Easter egg likely hints at which identity fans can expect her to take. In episode 4, a flashback reveals a memorial photo of Rambeau’s mother, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), in SWORD headquarters. On it, she is given the nickname “Photon,” referencing her daughter’s second alter ego in the comics. Fans can probably expect Parris’s take on the character to start out by using that name when she returns in Captain Marvel 2, alongside Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan, in honor of her late mother
Additional fun fact: Rambeau gave up the Captain Marvel mantle in the 1990s to the son of the original Captain, Genis-Vell. He became the third person to hold the title but later took over the name Photon after Rambeau started going by Pulsar. Hope you can keep all that straight, there might be a quiz later.