Monica Rambeau just had a pretty special moment in episode 7 of “WandaVision.” Teyonah Parris’ character has been a key part of the show so far, but she now looks to be an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward following episode seven’s reveal.
If you don’t know Monica Rambeau and some of the many names she’s had over the years—including Captain Marvel!—then let us shine some light on this hero you should know.
The All-Terrific Captain Marvel
Monica got her start in the Marvel universe in 1982’s The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16. Created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., she made her debut as the “all-new, all-different, all-terrific Captain Marvel” when she and Peter Parker crossed paths in their plain clothes. Literally, she walked past him, and his Spider-Sense went off to tell him that she was someone extraordinary. Worried that she might draw unwanted attention in a bad neighborhood, Peter changed into his costume to keep an eye on her. He quickly discovered that she can take care of herself.
Caught by surprise, Monica blasted Spider-Man thinking he was another hoodlum; she hadn’t yet learned to fully control her powers. She was the new Captain Marvel, an unorthodox lieutenant in the New Orleans Police Department before she was granted staggering powers as the result of being blasted by extra-dimensional energy. Turned into pure electromagnetic energy herself, Monica can fly, travel close to the speed of light, convert her body into energy, and fire photon blasts.
Monica went to the Avengers for help controlling her powers, and she became a member of the team. A natural leader thanks to her commanding personality and time in the police force, it wasn’t not long before she was promoted to leader of the Avengers. However, when she was left powerless after expending all of her energy in a battle, Monica returned to patrolling the New Orleans harbor for a brief period. Naturally, her powers returned (because comics), and in time she would choose two new monikers: Photon, and later Pulsar.
By the time of the Infinity storyline in 2013, Monica had taken yet another superhero name, Spectrum. She joined the Mighty Avengers alongside Luke Cage, Power Man, White Tiger, and the Superior Spider-Man to stop Proxima Midnight from destroying New York City. Later, Monica took her place in the Ultimates lineup with Carol Danvers—Captain Marvel—before returning once again to the Avengers.
The Story Behind Monica Rambeau’s Many Superhero Names
Monica was dubbed Captain Marvel after her first somewhat accidental outing as a superhero. In command of a small boat before donning her costume for the first time, a witness overheard Monica called “Captain” by her companion. When the police arrived, the witness could only say, “Capitan est maravilla!” Captain Marvel was born. There was no hero bearing the name at the time as Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel, had succumbed to cancer, so the name stuck.
After some time passed, the son of Mar-Vell, named Genis-Vell, met Monica and offered to let her keep the title after his initial misgivings. She declined, saying she had picked a new name to “stop living in other people’s shadows.” She chose Photon. (In the film version of Captain Marvel, Photon is Maria Rambeau’s call sign, a nice nod to the comics.)
Genis-Vell later decided he wanted the name Photon when his body was transformed into photonic energy after being grievously injured. “I can’t be my father–I have to be something different,” he told Monica as they brainstormed superhero names over drinks. She finally settled on Pulsar, saying simply, “I like that one.”
After a while, Monica just went by, well, Monica. This is likely the name most people think of when they think of the character, for clarity’s sake. But once again, Monica changed her superhero name to Spectrum after taking the lead on the team known as the Mighty Avengers. She was most recently part of this year’s “No Road Home” storyline with her fellow Avengers, still bearing the name Spectrum, so that might be the one that finally sticks.
Monica in the MCU
Up until episode seven, Rambeau was a captain for S.W.O.R.D. trying to help Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and S.W.O.R.D. acting director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) figure out what was going on with Westview. Now, however, Rambeau looks to have had her origin story as Photon.
In any case, Monica has thus far displayed a heightened awareness towards energy sources, and she’s minimally scratched the surface of energy projection when she broke her fall. As such, it’s going to be incredibly exciting to witness Monica potentially developing the use of her powers further in WandaVision‘s final episodes on Disney+, as well as the opportunity that now exists for her to become a full-fledged version of Photon in the MCU’s future.