In the interest of full disclosure, we have to admit upfront that we are 0-for-1 in theories just like this, so take the following with the required grain of salt.
We’ll also acknowledge this one seems pretty obvious on the surface level, which might be because that’s what Marvel Studios wants us to think at the moment, or alternately, it’s so obvious that we shouldn’t take much in the way of credit for thinking of it today.
So we won’t.
But since Captain Marvel information has been few and far between (with Entertainment Weekly beginning the roll out of some bits of information this week in advance of what’s likely the first trailer to follow in a few days’ or weeks’ time), this is one of the first opportunities to begin exploring the mysterious of the film.
With that preamble out of the way, we’re going to lead with the lede – Jude Law’s unnamed Kree Warrior character is very likely Carol Danver’s biological 'father.'
We'll explain the single quotes later, but this probably won’t take long; the puzzle pieces are pretty large and fit together fairly easily.
They begin with what was literally the first bit of unauthorized information fans got from the film - paparazzi set photos of star Brie Larson as Carol in a green, black and silver uniform, since confirmed with EW’s first official images, an unexpected nod to a somewhat obscure part of the original Captain Marvel’s past.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the first 1967 incarnation of Captain Marvel was as Mar-Vell, a member of the Kree military sent to Earth as a spy to determine if it was a potential threat to the Kree Empire. Mar-Vell adopted the identity of the deceased Dr. Walter Lawson to live among Earthlings and grew sympathetic to them, occasionally donning his green-and-silver Kree military uniform to act as their protector, with Earthlings mispronouncing his name as ‘Captain Marvel’ in his first call to action.
Interestingly, Variety, the first Hollywood trade to report on Jude Law’s casting before Marvel Studios officially announced it, identified his character as - you guessed it - Dr. Walter Lawson, a.k.a. Mar-Vell, “who becomes a mentor of sorts to Danvers as she tries to figure out her new powers.”
In Marvel’s Studios official EW roll out, they decline to identify who Law’s character is, other than a “devout” Kree warrior who leads their Starforce military team that Danvers begins the film as a member of.
Law calls his character “unquestioning, conservative, but inspirational,” and acknowledges he and Carol have a “special relationship” - the nature of which creates tension among the other members of the team.
None of this would raise any narrative red flags if not for fact Marvel Studios is leaving question marks surrounding the origins of Carol’s powers. While announcing straight away Captain Marvel will not be a traditional superhero origin story and will begin with Carol as a powered member of Starforce, Marvel Studios has still laid out enough bread crumbs to make it clear her past is a mystery that will be explored in flashback.
We can assume with the casting of Lashana Lynch as fellow United States Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau that the film goes back to Carol’s more immediate past. It seems plausible that the Air Force pilot portion of her life takes place before her recruitment into Starforce and perhaps is when she first encounters Law’s character, who again as Variety reports, helps mentor Carol in her new powers.
We also know 12-year-old McKenna Grace was cast as a younger version of Carol, which would mean the film will explore other parts of her past. Interestingly in a recent interview, Grace suggests she had to "train and learn how to do stuff for Captain Marvel," which seems to suggest her preparation was more than just rehearsal, and perhaps things like wire work or combat training were part of her experience. Could Law’s character make an appearance this early in her life?
While the film reportedly begins with Carol off-Earth in her Starforce role, EW’s Devan Coogan writes that “she soon finds herself back on her home planet with new questions about her past and identity.”
Now fans familiar with Carol’s original origin story know it’s a little bit of 1970's comic book mumbo-jumbo about an alien weapon, an accident (of course, Marvel superheroes have accidents), and her physiology being altered – resulting in her human DNA being fused with Mar-Vell’s Kree DNA, remaking her as a Kree/human hybrid while already in adulthood.
The current reimagining of her past in Marvel Comics' The Life of Captain Marvel (available in trade paperback just in time for the film!) has hinted in its early issues that Carol's father was a Kree in disguise on Earth and that he may have had connections to genetic experimentation (something the Kree are known for in comic books).
While not revealing it outright (yet), what Marvel Studios is letting us know so far strongly suggests Carol is a product of an intentional human-Kree coupling of some sort and not a science-y mishap.
“You have this Kree part of her that’s unemotional, that is an amazing fighter and competitive,” Larson told EW. “Then there’s this human part of her that is flawed but is also the thing that she ends up leading by. It’s the thing that gets her in trouble, but it’s also the thing that makes her great. And those two sides warring against each other is what makes her her.”
While not explicit, Larson’s comments suggest a Carol who is part Kree by genetic origin, and not through sudden transformation as an adult.
Other circumstantial evidence worth noting:
- As an elite Air Force pilot in the 1990s, that would peg Carol’s birth as likely the late 60s to the mid-70s. As a reminder, in comic books Mar-Vell came to Earth as a spy posing as an Earthling in 1967.
- With the Skrulls the film’s main antagonist and Ben Mendolson’s Skrull character Talon having been revealed as infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D., the film seems centered on spying, espionage and … wait for it … hidden identities.
- While not yet revealed by EW or yet officially acknowledged by Marvel Studios, Annette Bening was reported by Variety and the Hollywood Reporter as part of the cast, likely in the role of Carol’s mother according to Variety (Marie Danvers in comic books). No male actor of equivalent stature has been reported as playing Carol’s father – Joseph Danvers in comic books – or even a role that hasn’t been so-far identified.
And not for nothing, THR pegged Bening's character as a scientist. Hmmmmm...
Putting it all together, Carol seems likely the child of a Kree and a human through natural or scientific means in the late 60s to mid 70s, which may not be entirely known to her when the film begins (hence the questions about her past and identity), which would in turn explain the lack of a linear origin story (out of narrative necessity).
Given the nature of the “special” relationship between Law’s character and Captain Marvel, and his so-far unrevealed name, Carol eventually learning her mentor is in fact her genetic father – perhaps moments before his death – seems all kinds of Marvel movie logical…
… unless her father is Ronan.
But that’s a theory for another day.