With more than 20 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be daunting to "catch up" before each next new release. But with the Marvel franchise entering streaming TV for the first time with WandaVision on Disney+, the rules are slightly different.
There's only one movie you absolutely need to watch before the trippy Marvel sitcom premieres on January 15. And no, it's not the obvious Avengers: Infinity War, where Wanda and Vision solidified their romance before Vision gets murdered by Thanos as he obtained the Mind Stone. Instead, the movie you really need to watch is 2019's Captain Marvel.
Why? Two words: Monica. Rambeau.
In Captain Marvel, Brie Larson starred as Carol Danvers, an ex-U.S. Air Force pilot whose memories are erased when she joined Starforce, the special forces of the alien Kree Empire. When Carol gets her memories back, she reunites with her best friend Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch) and her 11-year-old daughter, Monica, played by actress Akira Akbar.
Captain Marvel was very much Carol Danvers' story. But Carol wasn't the only one to wield the name "Captain Marvel." In 1982, comic book creators Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. introduced Monica Rambeau as the second Captain Marvel (after Mar-Vell) in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Monica held the mantle of Captain Marvel throughout the mid-'80s, even taking leadership of the Avengers until she lost her powers in Avengers #291-#293.
Since then, Monica has regained her powers and has gone by other names, including Photon, Pulsar, and Spectrum. (Captain Marvel has an Easter egg foreshadowing Monica's future. On Maria's jet, her call sign was "Photon.") While Carol Danvers' first comic book appearance predated Monica's, Carol didn't become Captain Marvel until 2012 in a solo comic book series by Kelly Sue DeConnick. For many decades, Carol's superhero name was Ms. Marvel, which she abandoned, allowing a certain teenager from New Jersey to take over.
Monica didn't have a big role in Captain Marvel. As a supporting character for Carol, her biggest contribution to the movie is choosing Carol's new red, blue, and gold colors to solidify Carol's defection from Starforce. But Monica will be a big deal in WandaVision, and it's crucial MCU fans know exactly where she came from. Especially before Monica appears again in Captain Marvel 2 in 2022, possibly under one of her many superhero names.
WandaVision, which takes place after Avengers: Endgame (a movie that also had a significant five-year jump, placing the present-day MCU in approximately 2023) will reintroduce Monica as an adult (played by Teyonah Parris) working for S.W.O.R.D., a space-oriented defense force that guards Earth from alien threats. Exactly why or how Monica ends up in Wanda's artificial sitcom reality is yet to be seen, but we can guess that Monica is working under someone else's orders. Are we in for another surprise appearance by Nick Fury?
Captain Marvel is streaming now on Disney+.