Monica Rambeau has powers? She’s a superhero?
Since the Maria Rambeau first ran the call sign “Photon” on her jet in Captain Marvel, comics fans have waited for her daughter Monica to step into the Avengers light. Good news: Marvel’s WandaVision was hiding a superhero in plain sight. Throughout the Disney Plus series, creator Jac Schaeffer has teased the superheroic possibilities of the character in Captain Marvel 2. Now it seems that Monica may actually inhabit a role close to what she did in the comics — but you only know half the story if you watch WandaVision.
Here’s the comic book history that WandaVision and Marvel Studios are using to get Monica ready for the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for WandaVision through episode 9.]
WandaVision isn’t the first time we’ve seen Monica Rambeau — her younger self debuted in Captain Marvel. Played by sisters Akira and Azari Akbar, Monica was the daughter of Maria Rambeau, fighter pilot and *ahem* close personal friend of Carol Danvers.
From WandaVision, we know a bit more about what happened to the Rambeaus after the end of the movie, when Carol Danvers left Earth on a 23-year quest to find the Skrull refugees a new home and fight evil throughout the galaxy. Maria went on to found the Sentient World Observation and Response Department, or SWORD, and Monica followed in her footsteps as a SWORD agent.
Monica’s career was interrupted, however, when she was among the 50% of the universe’s population who Thanos killed at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. In the five years before Monica was resurrected, her mother died, a big jerk took over her job, and now he’s doing his best to stymie Monica’s empathetic attempts to get through to Wanda Maximoff.
Monica is the only person — so far — to have entered and exited Wanda’s hexagonal Westview. Darcy tells her, “The energy inside has rewritten your cells on a molecular level twice. It’s changing you.” That appears to have been the tee-up for Monica’s superhero origin story.
This week, Monica went back into the hex. Plunging into the energy field, she heard the voices of her mother, Maria, and Carol Danvers. After breaking through, she retained her autonomy, unlike every other person who has been enveloped in Wanda’s illusion. And making it through the wall of the hex clearly changed her in other ways.
Just after exiting the wall, Monica’s eyes turn bright blue, and when she looks at the town’s power and phone lines, she appears to be able to see the energy that they emit and transmit. The effect fades, but later, in an altercation with Wanda, the surface of Monica’s body seems to crackle with a blue-white energy, keeping her from harm.
Monica has superpowers. And she puts them to go use in the final conflict in the WandaVision finale, stopping bullets popped off by SWORD agent Tyler Hayward. In an after-credit scene in the finale, we see a Skrull agent pull her aside — she has a greater purpose, especially with her new secret.
What is Monica Rambeau’s superhero origin story in the comics?
One of the most important things to know about Captain Marvel is that for about 40 years, Marvel Comics had to keep publishing a Captain Marvel book or lose the trademark to the name “Captain Marvel.” It’s a long, fascinating story.
And so there have been a lot of different people to use the Captain Marvel name in Marvel Comics — about half a dozen characters had stepped into the boots before Carol Danvers made the title synonymous with herself. But the very first successor to Captain Marvel was Monica Rambeau.
Created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., Monica became the second Captain Marvel in 1982. In 1983, she joined the Avengers, becoming the first Black woman to join the team. But in 1996 she conceded the name to Captain Marvel’s son (sort of), and took the name Photon instead — which, in the movies, was her mom’s fighter pilot callsign. For various reasons that are trivial to explain, she’s also gone by the name Pulsar and Spectrum.
Her origin story is humdrum as superheroes go: She was blasted by some weird energy and has had powers ever since. But then again, that seems to be exactly what’s happening in WandaVision. From that weird energy, Monica gained the ability to transform herself into various forms of light and energy, which comes with a host of benefits. Superhuman speed (by traveling as microwave transmissions), invisibility, the ability to fly and phase through objects, and the ability to absorb energy and redirect it as blasts from her hands.
She also had a pretty cool white costume.
WandaVision won’t be the last we see of Monica. Actress Teyonah Parris is set to appear in Captain Marvel 2, where she’ll probably run into Nick Fury in space if a post-credit scene is any indication. Expect to see her reunite with her childhood hero in late 2022.