The Marvels is shaping up to be one of Marvel Studios’ more intriguing movies. Storywise, the Nia DaCosta-helmed film teases a union between Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) sees the return of some familiar faces. It also comes at a time when Marvel Studios is undergoing a shakeup in both its television and film departments, although some of those concerns may be mere hyperbole instead of legitimate issues. That being said, The Marvels extends its reach past Earth as Carol, Monica, and Kamala come face to face with Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). Throughout its trailers, The Marvels has teased that Dar-Benn possesses immense powers – enough to raze entire worlds, in fact – as well as an ax to grind with Carol Danvers. Even though this character has a fairly sparse history in the Marvel Comics canon, it’s still connected to Captain Marvel – as well as other cosmic Marvel heroes.
The Marvel comics version of Dar-Benn differs heavily from the MCU version in many ways. First and foremost, Dar-Benn was a man in the comics, while the MCU version presents as female. Secondly, the comics Dar-Benn took part in the “Operation: Galactic Storm” storyline that ran throughout all the Avengers-related titles in 1992. The storyline begins when Captain America rescues his old friend Rick Jones from Kree forces and learns that the Kree Empire has been embroiled in a battle with the birdlike Shi’ar. Things get worse when the cosmic-powered Avenger Quasar tells his teammates that both empires are utilizing a stargate to transport weapons and additional forces; said stargate has been launched near the sun and is slowly destabilizing it. The Avengers decide to split into three teams: one team will protect the Earth, another will negotiate with the Kree Empire, and the final team will try to negotiate with the Shi’ar. Monica Rambeau, who held the Captain Marvel name, led the Avengers team that dealt with the Shi’ar while Carol Danvers – who was in her supercharged Binary form at the time – kept watch over the stargates.
Dar-Benn, alongside his fellow Kree soldier Ael-Dann, served as the emperor of the Kree Empire during this time. He wasn’t interested in standing down from the Shi’ar conflict, as he repeatedly battled against Captain America’s team of Avengers and even managed to capture them. But soon the war escalated when the Shi’ar Deathbird assassinated Dar-Benn and Ael-Dann, leading the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence to take over commanding the Kree Empire. Eventually, a Shi’ar weapon decimated the Kree’s population, with the rest of the Kree being annexed into the Shi’ar empire.
Operation: Galactic Storm was a major shift for the Avengers, and Marvel’s cosmic stage, as a whole. It led to reignited friction between Captain America and Iron Man, as Iron Man sought to kill the Supreme Intelligence for manipulating the war effort while Captain America didn’t want to take such a harsh action. The Shi’ar, previously limited to interactions with the X-Men, took a bigger role in the Marvel cosmology. It also made the Kree a recurring enemy of the Avengers, as the warlike aliens sought revenge upon Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in storylines including “Avengers Forever” and “Maximum Security”.
While the MCU version of Dar-Benn may have swapped genders, she still carries her comic counterparts’ bloodthirsty nature. Ashton’s Dar-Benn also wields a hammer-like device known as a Universal Weapon – which one other character has utilized throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That character is none other than Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the fanatical villain of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. Disgusted by a peace treaty between the Kree Empire and Xandar, the home of the Nova Corps, Ronan sought the Power Stone so that he could annihilate Xandar. His quest inadvertently led to the formation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who soundly defeated him.
Ronan would later appear in Captain Marvel, though this time he was the arm of the Kree’s military might. When Carol Danvers went rogue after regaining her memories of Earth, Ronan was tasked with potentially destroying the Earth to eliminate the threat of the shape-shifting Skrulls. He chose to retreat after Danvers displayed her full power by destroying a Kree bomber. Ronan and Dar-Benn’s hard-edged approach to combat is in line with the Accusers’ role in Marvel Comics. The Accusers Corps serves as the arm of justice within the Kree Empire, eradicating the Kree’s enemies by any means necessary. Such an extremist way of thinking has brought them into conflict with multiple Marvel heroes and made them deadly foes. If Dar-Benn is just as powerful and/or driven as Ronan, the Marvels may have an intense fight on their hands.
Throughout the trailers and TV spots for The Marvels, Dar-Benn is shown wielding her Universal Weapon in conjunction with a bangle that creates planet-killing power. A similar bangle was the focus of Kamala’s power in Ms. Marvel; when she started wearing it her power to manipulate light immediately kicked in. Marvel Comics fans will probably have drawn the dots between the bangle and a powerful set of items known as the Nega-Bands, which were created by the Kree Empire to rival the Quantum Bands that Quasar used to unlock his abilities. Those bands were utilized by Mar-Vell -the Kree soldier who was the original Captain Marvel – as well as his daughter Phyla-Vell, who became a celebrated member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. In Ms. Marvel, the bangle was found by the ClanDestine, a mysterious group of extra-dimensional beings whom Kamala comes into conflict with throughout the series.
Both bangles are confirmed to play a major role in The Marvels and future Marvel projects, according to executive producer Mary Livanos. “In ‘Ms. Marvel,’ we learned that the bangle, paired with some other form of power, can force a temporary hole in space and time to lead to somewhere else. With the power of both bangles, more is definitely possible. And we see the culmination of that over the course of this movie. It definitely leads to plentiful opportunities for the future of the MCU, whatever the ‘Avengers’ and ‘Secret Wars’ teams may want to do with them.””, Livanos told Total Film. That, combined with the fact that The Marvels takes place immediately after the events of Ms. Marvel, means that Kamala could end up playing a major role in the film.
The Marvels premieres in theaters on November 10. Ms. Marvel is streaming on Disney+ in the U.S.