Everything You Need To Know About Monica Rambeau Before The Marvels

Everything You Need To Know About Monica Rambeau Before The Marvels

Debuting in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Monica Rambeau has had a hell of a superhero career. She was the first female Captain Marvel, even before Carol Danvers. She’s been on countless teams, including multiple versions of the Avengers. Her ability to become and project anything on the electromagnetic scale makes her one of the most powerful beings in the universe. And now that she’s about to make her (real) theatrical debut in The Marvels, we thought we’d look back through Monica’s comics history to see what we can learn about her MCU future.

Monica Rambeau

Image: Marvel Comics

The pre-superhero life of Marvel Comics’ Monica is much different than her MCU counterpart. She was the daughter of a firefighter and a seamstress, rather than Air Force personnel. In fact, after she grew up in New Orleans, she stuck around to become part of the city’s Harbour Patrol. While trying to help retrieve a stolen device that could siphon energy from other universes and blast it into ours, Monica attempted to destroy it with her hands after it was activated. This resulted, in true comic book fashion, in Monica suddenly gaining the superpower to turn into or emit anything on the electronic spectrum, from light to x-rays to neutrinos, to… you get the idea. She used her newfound powers to destroy the device, after which the press dubbed her “Captain Marvel.”

Captain Marvel

Image: Marvel Comics

Yes, Monica Rambeau was Captain Marvel before Carol Danvers. And no, unlike Carol, she had nothing to do with the original Captain Marvel, the alien spy-turned-hero Mar-Vell who died in 1982, the same year Monica debuted. After getting some help managing her immense, newfound powers from Iron Man, Monica was inducted into the Avengers almost immediately. She fought villains both on Earth and throughout the galaxy, not only becoming an essential member of the team, but eventually the leader of the Avengers as well. Unfortunately, her time in charge was cut short by the traitorous Doctor Druid, who manipulated her into questioning her own leadership abilities. Soon, after Druid had turned Avengers ally Marina into a sea monster (don’t ask), Monica was forced to enter the ocean, which dispersed her molecules. When she reassembled herself, she was weak, frail, and emaciated, and was forced to resign.


Image: Marvel Comics

Eventually, Monica recovered and began to assist the Avengers again on various missions while also solo-superheroing in New Orleans and New York City. Eventually, Mar-Vell’s son Genis-Well came to Earth and started calling himself Captain Marvel; when the two met, Monica magnanimously gave up her moniker and began calling herself Photon instead. Years later, Genis-Vell started calling himself Photon, because he was an enormous arsehole despite also being a superhero. Monica thought about changing her code name to Pulsar, but her next appearance was something very different indeed.

Agent of H.A.T.E.

Image: Marvel Comics

Monica returned in Warren Ellis’ Nextwave series, which only ran for 12 issues but has become a fan favourite. At least as much of a comedy as it is a superhero story, it sees a much-embittered Monica lead a group of semi-heroes fighting Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction for the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, sponsored by the Beyond Corporation. When Monica and her teammates learned Beyond was secretly a terrorist organisation, they battled it instead, fighting some of Marvel’s most ridiculous monsters and villains along the way (e.g., a bunch of MODOKs wearing Elvis costumes). While Nextwave was initially considered as taking place in its own universe, it was later retconned so that the events were memories manufactured by Beyond, and later retconned again, making it not only real but in continuity.


Image: Marvel Comics

To move away from her Nextwave period, and because Carol Danvers had adopted the moniker of Captain Marvel (Genis-Vell having been kind of dead at the time), a significantly less-bitter Monica changed her own codename to Spectrum. At a certain point, Thanos’ minion Proxima Midnight attacked New York City. Spectrum, Spider-Man, Blade, and Luke Cage joined forces to stop her, and formed the Mighty Avengers as a result. However, after being bombarded with anti-photons from Proxima’s spear, and then rejuvenated with “good” photons by the hero Blue Marvel, Spectrum’s power grew so immensely that she became an immortal being of pure light for a while until she fought the Goddess of Night. Like you do!

Team Player

Image: Marvel Comics

In addition to the Avengers, Nextwave, and the Mighty Avengers, Monica has been a member of the Secret Avengers, the Thunderbolts, the Ultimates, and Strikeforce. She was a key player in the original Secret Wars, the superhero Civil War, the Kree-Shi’ar wars, the second Secret Wars, a Thanos invasion, and so much more. Monica got her first solo comic, Monica Rambeau: Photon, this past December, where she tries to balance her family life, her past with the Avengers, defending the cosmos, and saving the universe. So what does this mean for the Monica of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

MCU: Captain Marvel and WandaVision

Image: Marvel Studios

While we were introduced to a young Monica in Captain Marvel, which took place in the ‘90s, her real debut came in Disney+ series WandaVision. Played by Teyonah Parris, Monica follows in her mother Maria’s footsteps and becomes an operative for the Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division, agency, aka S.W.O.R.D. Unfortunately, when Monica was Blipped away, her mother passed away. Returning to S.W.O.R.D., Monica was part of the team that investigated the magical field of energy around Westview in WandaVision, getting sucked into the strange, TV-styled reality created by the grieving Scarlet Witch. Her DNA was rewritten by crossing the barrier, which was rewritten further when an angry Wanda ejected her from Westview. And it was rewritten yet again when Monica entered Westview a second time, giving her the power to absorb and see energy, as well as become intangible. At the end of WandaVision, she was recruited by a Skrull agent for a mysterious mission in space, which is where we find her in The Marvels trailer.

MCU: The Marvels and Beyond

Screenshot: Marvel Studios

As their location-swapping has revealed, somehow Monica’s magically (?) granted powers, Carol Danvers’ cosmic powers, and Kamala Khan’s extradimensional/mutant powers are linked in some unknown way. And that’s pretty much all we know about The Marvels so far — in fact, we don’t even know what, if any, superhero moniker Monica will choose. Regardless, since she’s played such an important role in the Avengers in the comics, she’s almost certainly a lock to join the new incarnation of the team when Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars premiere in 2025. If past is prologue, it seems plausible that Teyonah Parris will take Brie Larsen’s place in the MCU once she’s done, and perhaps Monica may eventually even lead the Avengers. We’ll find out when we find out, but for now, the character’s future seems bright indeed (pun obviously intended).


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