Given Jude Law just debuted in the Harry Potter franchise as a young Dumbledore in November’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, it’s something of a fun coincidence Newsarama’s recent deep dive into the new Captain Marvel trailer has turned up a theory about how Law’s character in that film may be the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of an important Potterverse character - Professor Severus Snape, albeit with a shorter story arc.
If you haven’t already, please read our story from earlier this week detailing the mystery surrounding Carol Danver’s past and the identity of her parents. Pay particular attention to the entry about who Annette Bening’s character is; we’re pretty confident we’re at least warm when it comes to that specific theory.
And as we wrote there, it would also then create a specific story role for Law’s still-officially unidentified character that would seem to fit in with all the various clues that have surfaced since the first time his casting was reported.
Let’s start at the beginning:
When Law was first reported as cast in Captain Marvel by Variety (not confirmed by Marvel Studios at the time) a little over a year ago, the Hollywood trade described his role rather definitively as “Doctor Walter Lawson, a.k.a. Mar-Vell, who becomes a mentor of sorts to Danvers as she tries to figure out her new powers.”
Even then the prominent mention of Lawson struck us as curious, given the rather obscure nature of Captain Marvel’s secret Earth identity even in comic book terms.
But okay, Law was Lawson/the original Captain Marvel … until he wasn’t.
Marvel Studios never did confirm Law’s character, either in their 'start of production' press release or during Entertainment Weekly’s first official press blitz for the film, In fact, the Captain Marvel filmmakers declined to specifically name Law’s character name, despite describing his role in pretty significant detail.
He was ID’ed as the “enigmatic” and “Kree to the core” commander of Starforce, the special Kree military unit Carol (or ‘Vers’ ) serves as part of. Here’s how Law described him:
“He is driven by a belief in the divine leadership of the Kree people. So he’s almost a devout warrior — unquestioning, conservative, but inspirational.”
Okay, so none of that, including "enigmatic" and "unquestioning" is very Captain Marvel/Walter Lawson-like, but we’ll go on.
“There’s a lot and back and forth that comes with the two of them, which kind of creates a little bit of tension with the rest of Starforce,” Brie Larson told EW referring to Law’s character. “Like, ‘Why do they have a special relationship, and why isn’t it me?’”
So Law’s for-some-reason-unnamed-character was being intentionally introduced as something of a devout Kree badass, but with an unexplained special relationship to Carol.
That description held up fine until just late November, when an apparently-leaked image showed a Funko figure the box art of which identified Law as Yon-Rogg, which was quickly replaced by “Star Commander” in the officially-released images that surfaced just hours later.
And Yon-Rogg is not very Mar-Vell like either. Quite the opposite.
Like all decades-old Marvel characters, Yon-Rogg has a long and complicated history, and as detailed here he’s a Captain Marvel villain steeped in the character’s continuity. He was Mar-Vell’s primary nemesis for years, played a role in Carol’s origin as Ms. Marvel and at one time had an unbreakable psychic bond with her.
He played a large part in Mar-Vell coming to Earth and later adopting his red, yellow, and blue costume (hmmmm…) and at one time teamed with Ronan in rebellion against the Kree Supreme Intelligence.
Now this is starting to sound a little more like the character Law described. But remember, trailers and early press info are one part marketing and one part misdirection.
The only thing we seem to know for sure is Marvel Studios doesn’t want you to know exactly who Law is right now other than he appears to be a loyal Kree - but that won’t stop fans from trying to figure it out.
So who is he? A some character invented for the film? Unlikely, that isn’t how Marvel rolls.
Then is he Walter Lawson and Mar-Vell as originally reported?
How about all of the above?
We’re going to go with one assumption here - either accidentally or intentionally revealed, the Funko figure thing is genuine and Law will be introduced in the film as Yon-Rogg.
Which would make him a villain - an undercover secret adversary, and eventual betrayer of Carol, right?
Well, maybe not. Here comes that theory part.
If… again as we detail here … if Carol is really Annette Bening’s biological daughter, a genetic experiment conceived and then lied to and manipulated to eventually become the Kree’s ultimate weapon in their war against the Skrull, that’d make Bening the film’s secret betrayer, and it’d then make a whole lotta sense that Law would be Carol’s secret protector.
Hear us out: What we eventually learn via flashback during the course of the film is Law is assigned by the Kree to watch over Carol as she grows up on Earth, with Bening returning to Hala sometime after her birth to resume her leadership role. He does this disguised as Walter Lawson, who in comic books was an aeronautical engineer, who perhaps influences her path to becoming an Airforce pilot.
After she is attacked in her fighter on Earth by a Skrull, Law is there to rescue her (which the trailers may hint at), after which her memories are erased, and he’s then installed to mentor her on Starforce to become the Kree super-soldier she was designed to be (but doesn’t yet realize).
This would explain the special relationship Larson describes that exists between them, because while mind-wiped Carol/Vers would only know him for a relatively short time, Yon-Rogg would’ve secretly known and watched over Carol for her entire life and she might have latent memories/feelings towards him.
So perhaps this makes Yon-Rogg pretend to be sympathetic to the Kree leadership’s plans for Carol, but his motivation is to secretly protect and train her to be strong enough to eventually rebel against them.
“You've come a long way, but you're not as strong as you think,” he warns her in the second trailer.
Which maybe makes him Mar-Vell - in full name and/or just in spirit - undercover.
Now any MCU fan worth their salt also knows there is another role one or more characters have to play in Captain Marvel - official dead-or-apparently-dead guy. Almost all MCU films have characters who die or seemingly die heroic deaths. The majority of films have more than one.
We know Nick Fury or Agent Coulson won’t die. But if Law is secretly protecting and training Carol for the day the Kree try to make her do whatever their bidding is, it’d also make sense that he’d be the character to make that standard MCU self-sacrifice to help her reach the climax of her character arc - the fully-realized hero. And how fitting would Mar-Vell dying so Carol can ascend to Captain Marvel-dom be?
Hell, in an easter egg nod to Marvel Comics fans, perhaps he is also terminally ill, and his sacrifice would then provide a logical explanation for Carol to adopt the name Captain Marvel.
So again, perhaps he’s the MCU’s Snape - a seeming badass the audience is led to suspect is a villain in disguise who actually has great affection for and is secretly protecting and preparing the hero since childhood and who sacrifices himself so they may achieve their heroic destiny?
We'll find out when Captain Marvel hits theaters on March 8, 2019.