The Marvel Cinematic Universe cares a lot about legacy. Heroes don't take on new identities carelessly. Names mean something. In a few weeks, we'll see The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a Disney+ show all about how Sam Wilson takes up the title of "Captain America."
Warning: Spoilers for WandaVision Episode 04, "We Interrupt This Program" ahead.
In the fourth episode of WandaVision, the machinations of Wanda's surreal sitcom are finally unveiled. Sort of. The protagonist of this week's episode is Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), a S.W.O.R.D. agent whose mother, Maria Rambeau (played by Lashana Lynch in 2019's Captain Marvel) established the extra-governmental agency.
Unfortunately for Monica, she was "snapped" (or "Blipped") away during Avengers: Infinity War, and in the five years she was gone her mother died of cancer. Tyler Hayward, a new character played by Josh Stamberg, replaced the late Rambeau as acting director of S.W.O.R.D.
While Monica got right to work investigating a strange occurrence in New Jersey, the show firmly establishes that Monica is living under a large shadow of her mother — a mother she never got to say goodbye to. In the entrance lobby of S.W.O.R.D., a memorial plaque of her mother with her Air Force call sign, "Photon," hangs on the wall.
Way back during the release of Captain Marvel, eagle-eyed fans spotted Maria's "Photon" call sign on her jet, though the movie never acknowledged it. It was still a clever Easter egg to the comics as "Photon" was one of Monica's many superhero names after her stint as the first female Captain Marvel. (Carol Danvers, who first went by "Ms. Marvel," officially became Captain Marvel in 2012.) Monica took up the name Photon in Avengers Unplugged #5, published in 1995.
But in just one shot, WandaVision gives weight to the importance of "Photon," which may set up some very interesting things in Monica's future in the MCU.
Will Monica become Photon?
Our magic MCU 8-ball says: "Outlook good." And it might actually happen sooner than we think.
Teyonah Parris is set to star alongside Brie Larson in Captain Marvel 2, due in theaters in 2022. Parris will join franchise lead Brie Larson and Iman Vellani, who will debut as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel in the upcoming Disney+ series Ms. Marvel. Little is known about the plot and story of Captain Marvel 2, but the movie is set to star a trio of women associated with the Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel name.
Parris herself confirmed her role in the movie in a recent (and telling) interview with Rotten Tomatoes TV:
"I am excited, just as an actress, to join Brie and Iman and see what putting these three superheroes together — the Carol Danvers Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and Monica Rambeau — [to see] what will happen in that film. But the rest, we're just going to have to wait a few weeks before we can really talk about it."
"Wait a few weeks," you say? How interesting. With five more episodes left to go in WandaVision, there is plenty of time for Monica to gain superpowers (somehow) and fly to space as "Photon," taking up the name in memory of her now late mother Maria.
In this new Phase Four of the MCU, there is a significant changing of the guard as the old heroes make way for the new. Steve Rogers has already passed his shield to Sam Wilson, and Thor will hand over Mjolnir to his ex-girlfriend, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) in Thor: Love and Thunder. Another Disney+ series will star Dominique Thorne as a teenage genius who invents her own "Iron Man" suit to become Ironheart.
While Maria Rambeau was never a capital-S superhero, it's a juicy origin story for Monica to become a superhero using her mother's own call sign. Whether it happens in WandaVision or Captain Marvel 2 is unknown to anyone outside Marvel Studios. But it's going to happen, and when it does, the MCU will have one more hero to root for.
WandaVision streams new episodes Fridays on Disney+.