A photo posted in December to Disney Movies spelled it out plainly: “Jude Law as Mar-Vell, the leader of Starforce.” See the photo for yourself above. But some time after the photo and caption went up, the caption was removed. Was it a mistake, or a too-early and quickly-retracted reveal?
We don’t know, and Marvel declined to comment.
As of right now, Law’s character has only ever been described in official marketing as a a member of Starforce and a “mentor” to Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, with no name given. But of course, Marvel fans know just who Carol’s comic book mentor is, and that’s “Mar-Vell.”
So who is Mar-Vell? Created in 1967 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, in the comics he’s the original Captain Marvel, a celebrated Kree warrior who comes to earth in order to to observe humanity and assess if we are a threat to the Kree. (And yes, captain is his actual rank.)
We’ve seen the Kree in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before — they’re the blue-skinned people from “Guardians of the Galaxy” led by Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). But as you can see, they’re not all blue. Mar-Vell as it happens was part of a Kree subspecies whose skin color looks close enough to what humans call Caucasian that they can blend in on Earth.
So it is that Mar-Vell came to earth and soon after engaged in some super-heroics to help save some of the people he was observing. And after some bystanders misinterpreted his name, he became known as the superhero “Captain Marvel.”
Mar-Vell stuck around for several more years and had a lot of adventures in space and on Earth. This included being declared a traitor to the Kree, a truly bizarre period where he basically shared a slot on this plane of existence with Marvel Comics everyman Rick Jones, and his eventually being made a “Protector of the Universe” because of his efforts against none other than Thanos.
However, during one of his adventures Mar-Vell was exposed to a poison that gave him cancer, and because he was considered a traitor, he was denied access to advanced Kree medical technology. So, unusually for a major comic character, Mar-Vell died for real in Marvel Comics’ first-ever graphic novel, 1982’s “The Death of Captain Marvel,” written by Jim Starlin.
But leaked merchandise suggests Law is playing a completely different character: Yon-Rogg.
Who is Yon-Rogg? Like Mar-Vell, he’s a Kree warrior. But he’s not a good guy, he’s actually a longtime enemy of both Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers. Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in 1967, Yon-Rogg is a colonel in the Kree military whose beef with Mar-Vell is that he’s jealous of other people’s accomplishments, and that he’s in love with someone who likes Mar-Vell. Before Mar-Vell died, Yon-Rogg spent a lot of time screwing with Mar-Vell and trying to get him in trouble with Kree authorities.
Meanwhile, Carol Danvers was an Air Force pilot assigned to investigate Mar-Vell who instead befriended and later fell in love with him. Later on, she was caught in the explosion of a Kree device that infused her DNA with Kree DNA and developed super powers of her own, including flight, strength, durability and the ability to absorb energy. And yes, Yon-Rogg engineered the events that led to Carol getting her powers.
She first calls herself “Ms. Marvel,” and later adopts the name Captain Marvel in tribute to her late mentor.
As for “Starforce,” the military unit Mar-Vell leads? In Marvel Comics, Starforce is actually a supervillain team made up of Kree warriors opposed to earth’s heroes. Captain Marvel was never a member, since they were formed after he died. But you know who was? Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer (played by Djimon Hounsou in “Guardians”). Both of whom, by the way, will appear in “Captain Marvel,” a prequel set in the 1990s, about 10 years or so before “Iron Man.”