This article contains WandaVision spoilers.
Monica Rambeau has officially arrived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She first appeared as a kid in 2017’s Captain Marvel and Teyonah Parris’s adult iteration of her has been in most episodes of WandaVision so far, but it wasn’t until the fourth episode, “We Interrupt this Program,” viewers finally got a chance to see adult Monica as “herself” (rather than her sitcom alter ego of “Geraldine”) and learn her backstory.
Since then, we’ve caught more glimpses into her mysterious role within the MCU. Parris’s Monica is an excellent rendition of the character, and WandaVision is littered with small details about the character that set her up as a major player moving forward with the next phase of the MCU.
WandaVision episode 4 opens with Monica reassembling five years after Thanos snapped his fingers, presumably at the same moment in Avengers: Endgame when the heroes made their triumphant return. As Monica pieces back together, snatches of memories play, mostly her mother talking about not wanting to leave her, perhaps to go out on missions. In a bit of foreshadowing, child Monica says that maybe she’ll build a spaceship and talks about wanting to be an aircraft pilot.
The last voice Monica hears before she comes to is Carol Danvers, first saying “when they were giving out kids, they gave her the toughest one,” and then calling her “Lt. Trouble,” the childhood nickname her Auntie Carol used to call her. It’s a detail that Captain Marvel pulled from Carol’s relationship to a precocious neighborhood kid in the comics and applied to Monica. It also signifies just how much Carol means to Monica, that the voices that tether her to Earth and help bring her back are hers and her mother. Hopefully, it also means that Captain Marvel had at least been coming back to Earth for the occasional visit between the ‘90s and Endgame, to help keep that connection so strong (although Monica’s reaction to the mention of Captain Marvel’s name in episode 5 may indicate otherwise…but we’ll get to that in a minute).
Monica and Captain Marvel
It’s also a reminder that Maria and Monica were on their own. Those years during Monica’s childhood when Carol disappeared, before the events of Captain Marvel, certainly hit them hard. It’s unclear what happened after Captain Marvel, but if Carol dipped out to space and Maria was busy defending Earth, Monica would have had a lonely childhood. Either way, her relationship to her mother is an important one, and seeing Monica realize she has missed the last few years of her mother’s life is heartbreaking. The entire hospital sequence is a moving scene of deeply human panic, with dozens of regular people just like Monica trying to figure out what happened to them and where their loved ones are.
The fifth episode, (the meta “On a Very Special Episode…”), might shed a bit more light on the post-Captain Marvel years and highlights a possible rift between Monica and Carol. While brainstorming with Agent Jimmy Woo and Dr. Darcy Lewis, Monica gave voice to an oft-cited fan theory that Wanda nearly took Thanos down singlehandedly, adding that nobody else came close. Agent Woo responds that Captain Marvel came close and Darcy asks about her powers originating from an infinity stone, too. Monica gives Woo a glare and icy silence, and tells Darcy, “We are not talking about her, we are talking about Wanda,” clearly eager to move on. Whatever happened between them, it wasn’t good.
Perhaps Carol spent too much time off in space? She might have also been the one calling Maria away on missions during Monica’s childhood, which we heard as memories in the opening of episode four.
What Are Monica Rambeau’s Powers?
We now know that Maria built SWORD “from the ground up” after the events of Captain Marvel. During that movie, Monica met aliens and talked about wanting to learn to fly like Carol – as in, out to space, and on her own, without a plane. Both Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau are capable of unassisted space flight in the comics. Their powers are related, in that both can command energy to a degree. In fact, at one point Carol absorbed Monica so they could combine their powers, something they both found embarrassing and decided never to speak of again.
At some point Monica will likely get a power-up that will bring about her ability to control and even become any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum. In the comics, she gained her powers after she was exposed to extra-dimensional energy, when she was trying to stop a powerful weapon from being created. Considering that the onscreen version of SWORD changes the name from Sentient World Observation and Response Department to Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division, she’ll likely have plenty of chances for that, especially with Monica bristling when Director Tyler Hayward tells her SWORD is now in the weapons creation game.
In the meantime, Monica clearly went out and learned to fly like her mother, becoming a US Air Force pilot and then joining the astronaut training program that she references to Tyler when she first returns to SWORD. Until her powers manifest, that still leaves plenty of room for Monica and Carol to reunite in space or virtually anywhere else in the galaxy in Captain Marvel 2, which is slated to include Parris as Monica Rambeau.
Does Monica Have Powers Yet?
During Monica’s medical appointment in episode 5, her scans come back blank and they need to re-send her blood to the lab. The all-white scans look like they could be overexposed, a hint that Monica already has her powers, or at least a latent version of them. On the other hand, later on in the episode we hear that there are high levels of radiation present at the perimeter. Perhaps Wanda’s Hex boundary is messing with the machinery.
However, there’s another possibility WandaVision has set up, one that hews a bit closer to Monica’s comics origin. Monica could gain her powers by trying to stop Tyler Hayward from using a new super weapon against Wanda. With the drone incident in episode 5, it’s clear that Tyler escalates situations while Monica believes that Wanda isn’t intentionally harming anyone – and might even relate to her enormous grief over the loss of a loved one, as Monica remembered seeing her mother’s plaque while under Wanda’s control.
Monica mentioned photons among other specifications for a mobile fallout shelter that would be safe from Wanda’s powers and/or the Hex. Tyler has already shown a penchant for adapting observation for more violent means, so it’s not hard to imagine he’d use Monica, Darcy, and that unnamed aerospace engineer’s research to create a weapon on the side and catch Monica in the crossfire.
Maria Rambeau is appropriately memorialized in the halls of Sword HQ with a plaque bearing her call sign, “Photon,” which we learned during Captain Marvel. Comics readers will recognize that as one of her daughter’s many costumed aliases. That begs the question – when Monica eventually powers up, will she take on the name Photon as an homage to her mother, or will we learn that she has another one of her comic aliases as a call sign like Pulsar or Spectrum, letting this stand on its own as an easter egg?
Of course, Monica’s most famous alias, other than Photon, is Captain Marvel. It’s probably no mistake here that she’s reached the rank of captain so throughout episode four, people refer to her as Captain Rambeau. In the Marvel Comics timeline, Monica was actually Captain Marvel before Carol – a fact she didn’t let her friend forget, ribbing her for not calling to ask for permission first before taking up the mantle.
WandaVision has made sure to reference these various names plenty. In episode 5, Agent Woo came to greet Monica saying, “Mighty glad to have you back, Captain,” referencing the Mighty Avengers, a line-up Monica joined as Spectrum, her historic role as the first woman to take up the Captain Marvel name, and the “Mighty Captain Marvel” moniker of her surrogate aunt, Carol Danvers.
Will Monica Take Over SWORD?
Mysterious director Tyler Hayward seems pretty apologetic about the fact that he’s running SWORD, a job he seems to know he doesn’t deserve, though it doesn’t stop him from using his post to shift the organization’s trajectory toward the sinister. It’s clear that if she hadn’t been blipped, Monica would be running SWORD, but if Marvel wants to populate Phase 4 with more cool, powerful interconnected women heroes, she’s not the only candidate for the job.
The comics iteration of SWORD has recently been led by Abigail Brand, a green-haired half-alien half-mutant who also has a history of working with Captain Marvel to defend the Earth from extraterrestrial threats. She’s competent as hell and bringing Brand in to run SWORD would keep Monica at liberty for more free-wheeling adventures while bringing another interesting woman out of the pages and onto the screen.
Whatever happens next with Monica Rambeau on WandaVision or elsewhere, the MCU has successfully captured what has made so many readers fall in love with the character over the years and translated it to the screen. Hopefully they will continue to feature her and dig into her story.