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May 9, 2018

Who Will Annette Bening Play in ‘Captain Marvel’?

We sort through some theories about her top secret role.

Since The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Annette Bening will join the cast of Captain Marvel, there have been lots of rumors about who she’ll play.

Captain Marvel, the MCU’s first female-led film, will star Brie Larson as Carol Danvers. Danvers becomes the titular hero after an accident fuses her DNA with that of a Kree alien, giving her the powers of strength, flight, and energy projection. Jude Law will play Mar-Vell, whose DNA endows Danvers with these superhuman abilities. Ben Mendohlson has also joined the cast, though his role has not been revealed (though he’ll likely be playing the lead villain).

THR first reported that Bening’s character will be a “scientist.” She could be a scientist on Earth, perhaps helping Captain Marvel recover from the accident or gain control over her powers. But she could also hail from Kree. Her character could be involved with Gemma Chan’s Minn-Erva, a scientist and genetics expert in the Kree military. The Kree even have their own Science Council, so there are lots of spots available for a new scientist.

There are, however, plenty of conflicting reports and theories that complicate the simple claim of “scientist.” Soon after THR shared the news, Variety claimed that Bening will “most likely play the superhero’s mom.” Danvers’ mother isn’t a scientist in the comics, but Captain Marvel could rewrite the character for the upcoming film.

Danvers’ mother Marie plays a fairly minimal role in the comics, but she has a compelling relationship with her superhero daughter. In a dramatic encounter, Marie discovers Carol’s secret identity when she saves her father’s life. When Carol’s memory is wiped by Rogue shortly after, her and her mother’s relationship becomes strained. The tension culminates in an intensely emotional argument between the two. Sounds like something Bening could definitely sink her teeth into.

Star Trek: Discovery‘s Kenneth Mitchell is confirmed to play Joseph Danvers, Carol’s father. 15 years Bening’s junior, Mitchell would be an unorthodox choice for her husband; this is a potential mom-theory-killer. However, writers could take license with the father character, killing him off and reserving him for flashbacks.

Will Bening be a scientist? Danver’s mother? Danver’s scientist mother? One thing is for sure: four-time Oscar nominee Annette Bening is not just playing a background character. A quick probe of the source material (and Twitter) provides lots of other meaty possibilities.

Some speculate Bening’s character could be Helen Cobb, Danvers’s Air Force mentor who appears in Captain Marvel Volume 7 #1. A pilot who heavily inspires Danvers, Cobb is like the Professor X to Captain Marvel’s Wolverine. Bening’s gravitas and poise would be perfectly suited for the role. Comicbook.com suggests that “through some time travel wonkiness, Carol would end up battling at Cobb’s side in the past and even see her origin alongside her.”

Yet another theory proposes that Bening could play Tracy Burke, a renowned journalist who works alongside Danvers at Woman Magazine, until Danvers’ superhero duties take her away from work. Introduced in Ms. Marvel #8, Burke and Danvers form a “familial relationship” with each other that could be interesting to explore (although possibly better served for a sequel).

There have been lots of other potential character theories floating around Twitter: Lt. Commander Abigail Brand, a mutant who works under Captain Marvel to protect the Earth from extra-terrestrial threats; Geraldine Conway, who serves Air Force Division The Banshee Squadron, which is led by Captain Marvel; and a gender-bent member of the Skrulls, the film’s main antagonists.

An actress of Bening’s stature deserves a role worthy of her talent. Playing a scientist could be an interesting challenge (and who wouldn’t love to see Annette Bening in a lab coat?). And she’d excel Captain Marvel’s mother (did you see her brilliance in 20th Century Women?), although relegating any woman over forty to the role of “mom” makes me nervous. No matter who she plays — hero or villain, human or Kree — it’s hard to go wrong with Annette Bening.

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