Monica Rambeau: What You Need To Know About Teyonah Parris' WandaVision Character

Teyonah Parris on WandaVision

Until recently, the mysterious plot of WandaVision alone was enough to color fans suspiciously intrigued. From what little we can infer by its most recent promo, the ambitiously surreal Disney+ exclusive series sees Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprising their Avengers roles as Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff and Vision, but in a setting that calls to mind classic TV sitcoms such as Leave it to Beaver or Roseanne. It is exciting to see the MCU try its hand at the kind of high-concept sci-fi that Black Mirror often specializes in, but for Marvel obsessives, it is the glimpse of a grown-up Monica Rambeau in the trailer that has put anticipation into overdrive.

Created by writer Roger Stern and artist John Romita Jr. (who actually wanted to model her off of blaxploitation star Pam Grier), the character would make her first transition from the pages of Marvel comics and into a screen adaptation of any kind in the 2019 blockbuster Captain Marvel, as portrayed by young actress Akira Akbar. However, the December 2020 premiere of WandaVision will see Teyonah Parris, star of Dear White People and If Beale Street Could Talk, playing the modern-day, adult version of Monica Rambeau whom fans have been waiting to see all along. Her appearance in the teaser is too brief, and the plot details are too hush-hush at moment, for us to tell if the show will officially explain the origin of her abilities, but one can only hope.

It is actually a bit disheartening when you realize that little Monica Rambeau in Captain Marvel may be all the exposure that more casual MCU viewers have had with the character thus far, especially considering how important her legacy truly is to the history of Marvel Comics. If that is enough to get your attention, read on to learn five of the most essential facts about Teyonah Parris’ iconic character in time for the day WandaVision drops, starting with an inside look her marvelous powers and how she got them.

Monica Rambeau is hit with extra-dimensional energy

Exposure To Extra-Dimensional Energy Gave Monica Rambeau Her Powers

In her 1982 debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #16, Monica Rambeau was working as a harbor patrol lieutenant in her hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, when her attempt to disengage an energy disruptor exposed her to extra-dimensional energy, imbuing her numerous stunning abilities. Basically made up of pure energy, Rambeau can fly at the speed of sound or light; move through solid objects; conceal or alter her physical appearance; absorb, manifest, and emit various forms of energy; and also has the gift of eternal youth. Plus, her hyper-cosmic awareness enhanced her natural photographic and allows her to sense any crucial flaws in the flaws, making her a cosmic warrior worthy of Captain Marvel. As a matter of fact…

Brie Larson and Akira Akbar in Captain Marvel

In The Comics, Monica Rambeau Was Captain Marvel Before Carol Danvers

While seeing Academy Award winner Brie Larson as the MCU’s official iteration of Captain Marvel was refreshing, the otherwise cute sight of an 11-year-old Monica Rambeau helping adult Carol Danvers change the color of her suit was a huge deviation from the comics. Long before Danvers adopted the moniker, Rambeau actually became the second superhero to be dubbed Captain Marvel (not counting the original DC character currently known as Shazam) and, not to mention, was the first woman to fight under the alias as well. That is not the only “first” in Marvel Comics history that the character is responsible for, however.

Monica Rambeau as Captain Marvel

Monica Rambeau Was The First Black Female Avenger

Not long after gaining her powers, Monica Rambeau befriended Spider-Man, who would introduce her to his friends associates in the Avengers - with an invitation to become a member of the superhero collective following soon after. By accepting the offer, she became the first black woman to ever join the team, eventually taking the position of their leader for some time, while still going by Captain Marvel for the majority of her Avengers stint. That was until she passed the name down to Genis-Vell (the son of her predecessor, Mar-Vell) after he became a member, and took the alias Photon, which would not be the last she made a name change.

Monica Rambeau as Spectrum

Monica Rambeau Has Actually Fought Under A Few Different Aliases

After passing down the Captain Marvel monkey, Photon (referring to the devastating energy blasts she has the ability to attack with) became the second superhero name owned by Monica Rambeau. That was until the successor of her former identity, Genis-Vell, decided he would rather have that name after acquiring new powers, leading her to came up even better one: Pulsar. Since 2013, Rambeau has been called Spectrum, a fitting title that is inspired by her ability to create, absorb, or literally transform into any type of energy that exists on the electromagnetic spectrum, which certainly comes in handy when saving the world - although there was a moment when it almost caused the end of another.

Monica Rambeau and other heroes in the Secret Wars

(Image credit: Marvel)

Monica Rambeau Once Came Close To Destroying The Ultimate Marvel Earth

In 2015, during the Marvel Comics event called Secret Wars (which is actually separate from the original Secret Wars story arc in 1984), Earth-1610, an alternate reality often referred to as the “Ultimate Marvel Earth,” was threatening to collide with the Marvel Universe’s primary reality, Earth-616, eradicating all life as that world knew it. Spectrum considered channeling the full extent of her power and rendering 1610 to rubble herself before it could do the same to 616, but felt remorse at the sight of that other world’s children. Monica Rambeau hesitated to take the leap before Mister Fantastic subdued her, allowing the remaining epic events of the story commence.

What do you think? Do you feel primed and ready to see Teyonah Parris kick butt in WandaVision with all you have now learned about Monica Rambeau, or are you convinced that nothing the MCU can come up with will ever be able to top Spectrum’s Secret Wars story? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the groundbreaking Marvel hero, as well as even more inside looks into the legacies of your favorite comic book characters, here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.