Monica Rambeau – the African-American Captain Marvel
There are a lot of unexplored characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Really, other than Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spiderman and a couple of other superheroes, not a lot is divulged about most superheroes in Marvel Cinematic Universe films. However, that is mainly for the movie series. In the comics, there is a bit more to learn about some of the superheroes, especially those in the big leagues although most of them are still largely underused. Nonetheless, perhaps out of all the underused and unexplored superheroes, Monica Rambeau has to be the most criminally overlooked character in the MCU.
Who is Monica Rambeau? ****The Real “Female” Captain Marvel****
Unless you are a big fan of comics, the name Monica Rambeau may not ring a bell. For starters, Monica Rambeau is the second character and the first female character to be named as Captain Marvel and perhaps more interestingly, the first ever African American heroine in the MCU. Her character made its debut appearance in a publication of the Amazing Spiderman way back in 1982. Monica Rambeau was Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., who had originally intended to design her to look like Pam Grier before the idea was rejected by the Marvel board at the time.
What powers does she possess?
Her ethnicity happens to be one of the less interesting things about her. Yes, it gets more interesting with Monica, or as she is more popularly known in the comics – Spectrum. She actually, goes by many names in the series, including Photon, Pulsar, Sceptre and very recently, Spectrum, which seems to have stuck.
The deal is, Spectrum is just about one of the most powerful and heavy hitting characters in the Marvel universe. Imagine an avenger with the power of the Invisible woman, Ant man, the Flash and Cyclops. Then to top it all off, add an ability to absorb, release and convert to any and every form of electromagnetic radiation. Great, you just tried your best to imagine what Spectrum is like. You didn’t think her character was dubbed Captain Marvel for nothing did you?
To break it down, Spectrum can convert herself into any form of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum. From microwaves to x-rays to ultraviolet light rays and even electricity, if it is a form of energy, Spectrum can be it. Also, another impressive thing about her powers is her ability to absorb new energy from other spectrums, even if its one that she hasn’t met before, including energy from Dr Stange’s spell shields. With time, as her body processes the energy, she will eventually be able to convert into and release this energy. How amazing is that?
Talking about releasing energy, like Cyclops, Spectrum zaps out energy as beams through her eyes and hands and a blast of that energy has an explosive yield of 300 tonnes of TNT. To illustrate, 50 times of that blast would equal the explosive yield of the nuclear bomb dropped in Hiroshima during World War II. Also, although she can only convert to one type of energy at a time, in just a fraction of a second she can convert her body to another type of energy. Now, when she takes on an energy form, her body will also move at the same speed as that energy. So, yes, if she does transform to light energy, she will be able to travel at the lightning fast speed of light. Flash who?
You know how Ant man can shrink to a very tiny and almost invisible form especially when he needs to disrupt certain mechanical and electrical components? Well, even beyond that, Spectrum can shrink her size to a microscopic level whenever the situation calls for it. She can also make herself completely invisible and intangible as well when fighting her enemies. Essentially, as an avenger, she could go into any battle and end it in seconds.
What are her weaknesses?
With great power comes great fatigue. Although the “upper limits” of her powers have not been fully explored in the comics, trying to exert too much energy can put her physical body in great distress and fatigue. For example, during one of the several wars in the universe, in the battle against Submariner Marrina who had changed into an enormous sea creature Leviathan, Rambeau while trying to fight the sea monster, transformed her body into a tremendous bolt of lightning.
Her body came too close to the ocean conducting her being across the entire body of water. Her physical body of course could not withstand the extent of the molecular strain caused by dispersing atoms and as a result, she lost her powers and was reduced to a frail and decrepit version of her original self. Her body did recover after a very long while and she eventually regained her powers. She maintained contact with the avengers serving as a reserved member.
But was she born with superpowers?
Monica Rambeau was born as an ordinary girl without powers in Louisiana, New Orleans. While working as a cargo ship captain in the New Orleans harbour patrol, she uncovered the creation of what would have been a very deadly weapon. In a bid to stop the development of the weapon, she unintentionally exposed her body to extra-dimensional energy which would allow her to convert her body to any form of electromagnetic energy. With the new powers, she resolved to fight crime under the name Captain Marvel. She befriended the Avengers and was mentored by Captain America and the Wasp on how to fully and efficiently utilize her powers.
Monica Rambeau in movie
Captain Marvel, the first superhero movie produced by Marvel Studios to feature a female character as the main protagonist is set to be released later this year in March 2019. The movie is based on the story of Carol Danvers who has been described as “Marvel’s biggest female hero.” Contrary to speculation in the fan base, Monica Rambeau will not make an appearance in this movie. However, it has been confirmed that, Lashana Lynch will play the role of Monica’s mom “Maria Rambeau”, the character will also double as an Air Force pilot and a friend to Carol Danvers. While it is yet to be confirmed by Marvel Studios, it seems likely that the role of the older Rambeau in Captain Marvel will pave the way for the debut of her daughter, Monica Rambeau probably as a supporting character in an iteration of the Avengers or in a sequel to Captain Marvel. Monica Rambeau is a strong and powerful black women and it will be interesting to see how they set up her character in a movie.