Connecting Imaginary Dots: Annette Bening is the MCU Mar-Vell
If you’ve never read an installment of Connecting Imaginary Dots, allow me to explain the idea. Connecting Imaginary Dots was the title I came up with for my speculation pieces when I was writing at MCU Exchange. These types of pieces basically allow me to unload a bunch of junk that’s circulating in my brain in a way that should never be confused for things I actually expect to happen. I basically take a bunch of facts that are almost always entirely unrelated and do my best to connect the dots with by stretching my imagination. In the past these types of pieces have resulted in me theorizing that the Spider-Man sequel which became Far From Home might end up being a team-up outing of Spidey and Hulk in the Savage Land; to counter that, I also wrote one theorizing that Sterling K. Brown would be playing the father of Erik Killmonger in Black Panther LOOOOOONG before anyone else was considering it. The bottom line is this: these are fun spec pieces that allow me to just be a fan. With that out of the way…
I’ve been all over the map on this one and have never been 100% certain about how things will shake out, but right now I am more convinced than ever that Annette Bening will be portraying the MCU version of the Kree hero Mar-Vell in Captain Marvel. The casting of Jude Law threw me for a loop as it was reported that he would be playing both Carol’s mentor and a character named Walter Lawson. Lawson, of course, was the alias Mar-Vell used in the comics when he was sent by the Supreme Intelligence to Earth as a spy under the command of Yon-Rogg. The trades said Law was Lawson, I thought that must mean Mar-Vell and so for a while I was set on that and I was fine with that.
However, as we’ve drawn nearer to the film’s release, evidence has piled up that leads everyone to believe that Law is actually playing Yon-Rogg. To be fair, that doesn’t mean that he’s not also playing Walter Lawson; just because that was Mar-Vell’s alias in the comics does not mean that it can’t be the assumed identity of Yon-Rogg while he’s on Earth in the film. This isn’t so much about Law, though; it’s about Bening.
Bening was added to the cast of the film amid conflicting reports from the trades. One trade said she would “most likely” be playing Carol’s mom and another said she was a scientist. As with Law’s role, there’s no reason both things cannot be true, but I do believe we can identify the role in which she was cast. We were the first to reveal the character breakdowns for the film way back in November of 2017. Unfortunately, much of the work I did was lost in the hack of our site earlier this year, but here is the relevant info:
[UNKNOWN MALE /SCIENTIST] Supporting Lead Male (40-59) Intelligent, but can throw a punch. Open ethnicity. Sounds like he may be tied to a well-known character.
As I’ve said before, I originally wondered if this character might not be Rick Jones, but that clearly isn’t the case. What is most likely the case is that the studio gender-swapped this role and cast Beninig in it. She’s the right age (60 now, but was 59 at the time of filming) and even if Marvel Studios had hoped for a male, you don’t turn away an actress of Bening’s caliber if she comes in to audition for the part. We know that Bening has a stunt double for the film, so we’ll certainly get to see her “throw a punch” or two and, as time has gone on, the clues have lined up as to what well-known character she is playing: Mar-Vell.
It’s a leap of faith, to be sure, but I think the breadcrumbs lead me close enough to make it. I don’t have to be correct here, but I cannot imagine a Captain Marvel film or a Marvel Cinematic Universe that does not have a Mar-Vell. It’s incredibly uncomfortable to me to imagine how Carol ends up with the name Captain Marvel if she doesn’t have a Mar-Vell, but beyond that, there was a reason Carol eventually took on the mantle: Mar-Vell was a noble, romanticized hero whom she greatly admired. While it’s clear that Law’s Yon-Rogg is going to be her mentor in the film, it’s also clear from the quick snippet we’ve seen that she has a relationship with Bening’s character as well. Bening’s character has a much larger role in the film than what the marketing has lead us to believe so far and I’m willing to be that it’s her relationship with Carol that helps Carol decide to step up and take charge by doing what she believes is right and that sounds a lot like what Mar-Vell would do, even if it meant defying orders and turning her back on the Kree.
I know there are a lot of people who think otherwise. I know people believe Bening is playing Yon-Rogg, the Supreme Intelligence or someone else entirely inconsequential. I don’t like any of those arguments. I have no idea why the Kree Supreme Intelligence, a 54-foot head in a jar that holds the collective intelligence of the greatest Kree minds in their history inside its genetically engineered head would feel the need to speak to Carol through an avatar. I also don’t know why said avatar would need a stunt double. Additionally, and on a personal level, I absolutely need Marvel Studios to embrace the ridiculousness that is the Supremor and give me a 54-foot head in a jar. So process of elimination says she’s not the Supreme Intelligence.
She’s also not Yon-Rogg. I don’t believe that Hasbro and Funko mistakenly mass produced a million toys with the wrong name. I also don’t buy the super convoluted theories that suggest Law is both Yon-Rogg and Mar-Vell. In this instance, I’m a fan of Occom’s Razor: the simplest answer is that Bening is Mar-Vell.
While it may end up being the wrong assumption to make, it is the simplest and, I believe, there’s at least a tiny bit of evidence to support it beyond what I’ve discussed above. In his earliest appearances, Mar-Vell was draw with white hair. It was a great coincidence that the human doctor whose identity he assumed (Walter Lawson) had white hair and looked just like him. Add that to him being a pink-skinned Kree and he was the perfect replacement for Lawson and the perfect spy.
While his hair later became blond, it’s the white hair that always stuck with me as a kid and it’s the white hair that might provide the smallest clue as to whom Bening is playing. A quick Google search of Annette Bening will provide you with evidence that for most of the last 4o years, she’s been a redhead. Sometimes it’s blond; sometimes it’s brunette; mostly it’s red. You know what she’s not done? She’s not done white, not until she took the role in Captain Marvel.
Why? Why cast an actress of Bening’s caliber in a small, meaningless role and then make her dye her hair white? I don’t have an answer for that question other than “you wouldn’t.” I’m aware that it’s not much, but combined with everything else I’ve been tossing around in my brain, it’s enough to convince me that in the MCU, Bening is playing Mar-Vell, a Kree scientist who may of may not have been on Earth and who may or may not be Carol’s mother, but who definitely has a relationship with Carol and plays an integral part in helping her become the hero she is meant to be!