S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting a new science guy in The Marvels. Sorry, Norex. A scientist named JEXA is coming onboard the Skrull spaceship in the Captain Marvel sequel, alleges celebrity insider Daniel Richtman. The character is described as “intelligent and no-nonsense,” with “a dry sense of humor.” A supporting figure, the casting call demands an actor comfortable with “full facial prosthetics,” implying our new Mar-Vell insert is an alien being. Based on what little we know about JEXA, they have no recognizable precedent in the comics and may be a movies-only character.
While live-action DC properties only partake in non-comic book IPs — like Batwoman’s Ryan Wilder — on rare occasions, Marvel Studios is wantonly adventurous. President, Chief Creative Officer, and general overseer Kevin Feige has never shied away from incorporating original characters into preexisting stories and allowing independent contractors (like Joss Whedon and Shane Black for The Avengers and Iron Man 3) to stretch their legs. Comic book accuracy is definitely a must — the Marvel Cinematic Universe understands this better than Warner Bros., at least — but a truly by-the-books interpretation would also have been stifling, not to mention cumbersome to watch. Megan McDonnell, who is leveraging her experience writing for WandaVision into her screenplay for The Marvels, understands this perfectly.
Such a radical creative decision led to some of the most iconic entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Michelle Jones (Zendaya) is as much MJ as she is a Mary Jane Watson Easter egg. Scott Lang’s distractingly eccentric best buddy Luis (Michael Peña) is a hilarious caricature of what geek culture has become. Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins) was our Peter Parker insert before Sony and Marvel shook hands and made Tom Holland’s Spider-Man happen, and he was a masterwork in imitation. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) is an audience self-insert who managed to claw her way through Thor’s backstory and into an IP of her own. WandaVision would have been decidedly grimmer without her quippy inputs. The Marvels is only honoring MCU tradition if you think about it.
And of course, Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), without whom the Avengers wouldn’t be what they are many years later. That man not only headlined a phenomenal TV show, he was also partly responsible for the Avengers’ legacy, almost as much as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Our new mystery scientist in The Marvels may not have as much of a civic duty riding on their shoulders, but Darcy’s example only proves even the most insignificant of characters could make a difference someday. JEXA may simply be the person entrusted with handling a subplot, like Helen Cho (Claudia Kim) in Avengers: Age of Ultron, or someone with more influence in the narrative, like Annette Bening’s Dr. Wendy Lawson, who turns out to be the superhero Mar-Vell. Marvel is obviously keeping its cards close and we probably won’t know who is who until the last minute.
Production has been predictably hush-hush regarding the plot for The Marvels; the most insiders have been able to ascertain is the roster, which consists of Carol Danvers, Kamala Khan, and Monica Rambeau as the titular three “Marvels.” Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) will make her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Disney+ miniseries Ms. Marvel, effectively joining Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop, Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova, and Tatiana Maslany’s Jennifer Walters as the franchise’s new generation of Avengers. The adult version of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), Maria’s daughter from Captain Marvel, was imbued with superhuman abilities in WandaVision after working for S.W.O.R.D. and interacting extensively with Scarlet Witch’s Hex. Last we saw the Skrulls, Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and Soren (Sharon Blynn) were managing S.H.I.E.L.D. in Nick Fury’s absence and assisted Spider-Man in taking down Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Far From Home. A Skrull spaceship is currently orbiting Earth.
The Marvels, which features the return of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, is shaping up to be a crowded film, but nothing we’re not already looking forward to. The movie comes out on November 11, 2022.