The identity of a superhero is an interesting concept. A costume or alias can be seen as more meaningful than a single character. As iconic as characters like Steve Rogers are, he’s not the only one to be known as Captain America. The same can be said for the Captain Marvel identity. Originally, the name belonged to the Kree superhero Mar-Vell. Several people have gone on use the name as a symbol of hope. Carol Danvers is the most recent Captain Marvel, but she wasn’t the first female superhero to use the title. The distinction goes to Monica Rambeau.
Monica has served on the Avengers for years and she’s led the team as well. With the power to transform herself into different types of energy, Monica has lived up to the Captain Marvel legacy. I’m looking into her history to see how she’s evolved over time.
Born to lead
Growing up in New Orleans, Monica saw the crime that infested the city. It inspired her to help the local community and she worked as a lieutenant in the New Orleans Harbour Patrol. On an early mission, she tried to stop the creation of a weapon by a criminal scientist. During the struggle, she was exposed to extradimensional energy and gained her powers.
Monica discovered she had the ability to use different kinds of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum. She could control radiation, electricity, cosmic rays, gamma rays etc. Seeking to master her powers, Monica met Spider-Man, who introduced her to the Avengers. After being mentored by Captain America and Wasp, she graduated to a full time member.
Dubbed Captain Marvel by the media, Monica helped the Avengers deal with several threats. Eventually, Captain Marvel became the leader of the team when Wasp stepped down. Captain Marvel’s time as leader wasn’t easy, as she needed to deal with squabbling teammates and enemies like Moonstone and Baron Zemo.
The darkest moment in Monica’s life came when she had to fight against Marrina, wife of the Sub-Mariner. Marrina had turned into a giant sea monster called Leviathan and Monica needed to lead the hunt against her. To stop the creature, Monica transformed into a bolt of lightning. However, she conducted herself against the surface of the ocean and nearly killed herself. Although she managed to survive, Monica lost her powers.
Rising above adversity
The incident with Marinna took its toll on Monica’s physical and mental health. She had to retire from crimefighting, but she managed to overcome her injuries and regain her powers. Going forward, Monica acted as a reserve member of the Avengers, stepping into lead when necessary.
A meeting with Genis, son of the original Captain Marvel, changed Monica’s life. Initially, she resented the fact that Genis used the alias. Genis tried to concede the title to her because he felt she was more worthy of carrying it. Out of respect for Mar-Vell, Monica refused and took on a new alias called Photon. When Genis decided to use the same alias, Monica changed her name to Pulsar.
Giving up the Captain Marvel title said a lot about Monica’s personality. She could have chosen to keep it, but she looked past her own needs and realised it needed to belong in the family. Even when Genis copied her, Monica didn’t let it affect her ability to fight crime. Recently, Monica changed her alias to Spectrum and took over leadership of the Mighty Avengers. Throughout her career, Monica has understood that being a superhero is about seeing the bigger picture and not letting a name define who you are.
It’s only a matter of time before mainstream audiences are introduced to Monica. The character has been referenced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the upcoming Captain Marvel film, Lashana Lynch is playing Monica’s mother and Carol’s friend, Maria Rambeau. The door is open for Monica to appear in future films.
Whether she’s Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar or Spectrum, Monica Rambeau is a powerhouse of a character that deserves to be recognised as an important superhero. If she can reinvent herself, then so can you. Never be afraid to try new things. Experiment with your hairstyle, dress differently, make a positive change in your life.
In preparation for the Captain Marvel film, I’ve written about the legacy Carol Danvers has to live up to. Find out how Carol has evolved into Marvel’s most important female superhero!