Brie Larson’s The Marvels Is Gender-Swapping Its Villain?

Could the villain of Brie Larson's The Marvels be a gender-swapped version of an obscure Marvel Comics bad guy?

By Michileen Martin | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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The recent announcement that almost all of Marvel’s upcoming films’ release dates had been pushed back knocked Brie Larson’s The Marvels out of its 2022 release date and into early 2023. As such, it’ll be even longer before any speculations, rumors, and the like are either confirmed or fully squashed. In the meantime, one such unconfirmed report says the film’s villain will be a gender-swapped character so incredibly minor that Marvel’s never even bothered to resurrect him in the comics.

The report came today from Murphy’s Multiverse, who says the scuttlebutt is that Zawe Ashton (Velvet Buzzsaw) — who Deadline reported as being cast as a villain back in February — will be the central villain of the movie. Like Taskmaster from Black Widow, the rumor says Brie Larson will find herself facing Ashton as a gender-swapped version of the Kree bad guy Ael-Dan. Ael-Dan first appears in 1991’s Silver Surfer #53, in which he and his buddy Dar-Benn use a robotic replica of Silver Surfer to assassinate the Emperor of the Kree Empire — an alien pirate named Clumsy Foulup (no, really). Ael-Dan and Dar-Benn are later murdered during the following year’s event Operation Galactic Storm by the Avenger Deathbird.

the marvels ael-dan

As Murphy’s Multiverse notes, if the rumor is accurate then it would mean Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers — and presumably Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) — will once again be involved with the affairs of the Kree Empire. It makes sense, considering how Marvel handled a similar sequel; even though the events of 2011’s Captain Americva: The First Avenger and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier take place seven decades apart, in both the enemy is Hydra. Similarly, The Marvels will take place close to present day while the first film is set in the ’90s.

It could be that rather than locking horns with the Kree as she does in 2019’s Captain Marvel, Brie Larson’s hero could be helping them in a roundabout way. Assuming the rumor is more than a rumor, and the story takes at least some notes from the source material, Ashton’s Ael-Dan could be the empire’s ruler or she could be looking to assassinate the current ruler. So rather than protecting Earth or the Skrulls from the Kree, Captain Marvel might be looking to save the Kree from a pretender to the throne.

Either way, one intriguing aspect of Ael-Dan’s history is the involvement of the Norrin Radd, aka the Silver Surfer. It’s tempting to speculate that Ael-Dan’s potential presence in Brie Larson’s The Marvels is how Marvel Studios plans to introduce the Herald of Galactus. The issue in which Ael-Dan premieres is unique in that — in spite of it being his title — the Surfer never actually appears in it himself. From start to finish the reader is meant to wonder exactly why Norrin Radd would agree to kill an emperor, until his Kree co-conspirators destroy him and reveal he’s actually a robot.

Regardless of who’s playing who, The Marvels is scheduled to hit theaters February 17, 2023. The film stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau, Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel, and Zawe Ashton in an undisclosed role. The film is directed by Nia DaCosta (Candyman) with a script by Megan McDonnell (WandaVision).