The Marvels: Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, and Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau

Meet ‘The Marvels’: Everything You Need To Know About Marvel’s Hero Trifecta

The first all-female team-up in the MCU is almost here! The Marvels debuts in November 2023 and features three characters fans have seen a few times by now: Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, Photon (also Captain Marvel and Spectrum)/Monica Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan. All three of them have held a “Marvel” title at some point in the comics, and now they’re all sharing the big screen together, played by Brie Larson, Teyonah Parris, and Iman Vellani respectively.

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The Marvels kicks off right after the ending of Ms. Marvel, the Disney+ show that introduced us to Kamala. Turns out all three of these ladies with light-based powers are swapping places all of a sudden! And Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige upped the hype for the film in a February interview with Entertainment Weekly, saying:

“… there’s something immensely powerful about seeing Monica and Kamala and Carol together in a frame. To me, it’s only akin to the first Avengers movie and seeing the six of them together in a frame. It’s chill-inducing. They’re so great together, and they all have different histories with one another.”

So let’s take a closer look at those histories with a deep dive into the three heroes of The Marvels.

Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in The Marvels
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Carol Danvers first appeared in the comics back in 1968, making her an early example of a strong female character. Originally she was essentially the female version of the male Captain Marvel (a.k.a. Mar-Vell), her mentor, and she went by the alias Ms Marvel. But then Mar-Vell died, and unlike many comic book heroes his death actually seemed to take, so in 2012 Carol officially became the new Captain Marvel.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Carol is the hero of the 2019 film Captain Marvel, and we saw her fight to claim that title. She gained her powers and lost her memory in a massive explosion, the result of an experiment carried out by a Kree scientist—who is also called Mar-Vell, but was gender-swapped in this version and played by Annette Bening.

Much of Captain Marvel is about Carol regaining her identity and going back to her loved ones—fellow Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau and Maria’s young daughter, Monica. Yep, Carol knew Monica when she was just a child! But while Monica remained on Earth, Carol took off to space, leaving behind a pager for her friend Nick Fury to contact her in an emergency. That emergency ultimately proved to be Thanos during the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Carol protected the wider galaxy after Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe, and once those “blipped” people were restored, Carol was instrumental in helping the Avengers kill the Mad Titan.

After that, Carol seemed to only dip in and out of Earth’s affairs. She popped up in the post-credits scene of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, talking about said Ten Rings with Wong, and then she was gone again until the last episode of Ms. Marvel, where she was suddenly transported into the place where Kamala had been standing moments before.

And it seems like Carol’s choices post-Captain Marvel may have had a strong effect on the people around her…

Related: The 61 Celebrities Who Have Played Themselves In The MCU on We Got This Covered

Monica Rambeau, a.k.a. Photon

Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau in The Marvels
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Monica Rambeau debuted in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 back in 1982. The cover of the Spider-Man comic declared, “Presenting the origin of the all-new, all-different, all-terrific Captain Marvel!” So Monica was actually Captain Marvel before Carol was!

Back then she was a New Orleans cop who gained her superpowers after bravely destroying a dangerous energy weapon. After that, Monica left the police, became the first Black woman on the Avengers team, and eventually became their leader in a 1987 issue. Monica didn’t stick with the Captain Marvel name, though; she ended up passing it along to Mar-Vell’s son and taking the alias “Photon” instead. She subsequently took the names “Pulsar” and then “Spectrum” as she continued her superhero career.

But Monica has a very different origin story in the MCU—which also doesn’t seem to have settled on a superhero name for her yet!

Carol and little Monica (then played by Akira Akbar) seemed to have a close relationship in Captain Marvel. Monica even called her “Aunt Carol.” But now years have passed, Monica is an adult with superpowers, Carol is in space with seemingly only Nick Fury as a contact … and Monica’s beloved mom is dead. The WandaVision series, which showed Monica gaining her superpowers via a trip through Scarlet Witch’s “hex” forcefield, confirmed that Maria founded the organization S.W.O.R.D. before dying of an illness.

Monica wasn’t even there when her mother died because she was one of the people Thanos snapped out of existence. Episode 4 of WandaVision shows Monica suddenly waking up by an empty bed in a hospital surrounded by other panicking just-returned people, only to learn that her mother is already gone.

Those lost years and the devastation around her mother’s death have apparently hardened Monica’s attitude towards Carol considerably. WandaVision implies she’s very much not happy with her former “aunt.” Perhaps sparks are going to fly once they meet again in The Marvels?

Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel

Kamala Khan smiling in the Marvels
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Kamala Khan made waves from the moment she was announced as a new Marvel Comics character back in 2013. She was the very first Muslim superhero character to get her own book! Her series debuted in 2014 and Kamala immediately became popular. She’s a smart, funny, relatable young girl who just so happens to have cool stretchy powers.

The original plan for the comics was to have Kamala be a mutant, like the X-Men, but that was dropped in favor of her being an Inhuman. Then the MCU came along, and everything changed.

Kamala’s MCU origin story was told in the 2022 Disney+ show Ms. Marvel. She always thought she was a normal kid from New Jersey, but it turns out Kamala is also a Djinn and a mutant, and wearing an old family bangle unlocks her incredible powers. (Villain Dar-Benn seems to be wielding a similar bangle in the Marvels trailer.) Kamala is the first mutant to appear in the MCU, which is a pretty big deal, and her introduction helps pave the way for the inevitable addition of more mutants—including the X-Men, the rights to which have now reverted to Marvel Studios following Disney’s acquisition of Fox.

Kamala was always a huge fan of Carol Danvers, and in The Marvels she has the chance to not only meet her hero, but also fight alongside her. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige dropped this tidbit about what we can expect from Kamala in this movie during the February interview:

“The great thing about Kamala in her show, and now in this movie, is that she’s not unlike Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in Civil War. She can’t believe she’s with these other heroes, and can’t believe that she finds herself in these places. And that’s fun because we want to be that. I want to be that.”

So it seems Kamala Khan will be the audience identification figure in The Marvels, a new hero just finding her feet in this world of magic and hungry alien cats. Sounds good!

And after a fake-out death, the comics are changing Kamala into a mutant as well to align with the MCU version of the hero. Gotta love that corporate synergy! But at least Vellani herself is co-writing the comics.

(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)


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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.