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This is what Captain Marvel’s Supreme Intelligence looks like in the comics

Hint: It’s nothing like Annette Bening

Annette Bening as the Supreme Intelligence in Captain Marvel. Marvel Studios
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

The identity of Annette Bening’s Captain Marvel character remained shrouded in mystery until the actress finally revealed the truth on the Late Show last month. Bening told Stephen Colbert that she would be playing the embodiment of the Kree supercomputer, the Supreme Intelligence.

Bening described the character as “the artificial intelligence which consists of the greatest intellects of the Kree people for the last million years.” And that’s pretty much how the Supreme Intelligence works in Marvel Comics, too. But you should know that there’s one huge difference between Bening’s character, who we’ve seen in teasers and trailers for Captain Marvel, and the Supreme Intelligence.

The Supreme Intelligence looks, uh ... very different from Annette Bening.

Captain Marvel #16, Marvel Comics (1969)
The Supreme Intelligence in Captain Marvel #16.
Roy Thomas, Gil Kane/Marvel Comics

Very different

Meet the Supreme Intelligence, a computer the Kree built that now runs their society. It debuted in a 1967 issue of Fantastic Four by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, in which it literally shows up in the Fantastic Four’s nightmares. The eventual story behind the Supreme Intelligence is that the Kree built it after the Skrulls built their own superweapon, the Cosmic Cube.

In Marvel Comics, the Cosmic Cube is a separate thing entirely from the Infinity Stones, unlike its movie counterpart, the Tesseract, or Space Stone. The Kree crafted the Supreme Intelligence as a combined source of all Kree knowledge, with the intention of asking it to create a Cosmic Cube, Deep Thought-style.

But the Supreme Intelligence decided that the wiser course of action was to not create a second object that any mortal could use to alter reality. And since they’d already created a mind that had the combined knowledge of their wisest people, the Kree decided to let it stick around to advise them. They regularly upload their smartest minds into it upon their deaths.

Eventually, the Kree depended on the Supreme Intelligence’s word so much that they did away with their government and made the computer the direct ruler of the Kree Empire, with many Kree worshipping it as a god.

But why does it look like ... that

The Supreme Intelligence, a blobby, green tragedy mask of a face, is actually a pretty typical Jack Kirby design. And given how prolific his work is in American superhero comics — particularly at Marvel — there are a lot of examples of him using this basic shape language in monster faces.

Tales to Astonish #13, Marvel Comics (1960).
An easy source of Kirby monster faces: The covers of early issues of Tales to Astonish. (Yes, this is the first appearance of Groot.)
Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics
Tales to Astonish #17, Marvel Comics (1961). Jack Kirby/Marvel Comics

Bening’s presence in Captain Marvel trailers suggests that she’s a pretty major character in the movie, so it’s understandable that the folks at Marvel Studios decided that the Supreme Intelligence could use a visual update. Much like when Kurt Russell was hired to play the monstrous Ego the Living Planet.

Of course, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did eventually give us a glimpse of Ego’s massive, craggy, true face — so there’s also a chance that Captain Marvel will morph Annette Bening into a terrible green final form as well.