The Supreme Intelligence In Marvel Comics Has Traditionally Looked A Lot Different Than It Does In ‘Captain Marvel’
Anette Bening is officially the supreme. After much speculation about what role the award-winning actress would play in Captain Marvel , Bening herself confirmed she's taking on the role of the Supreme Intelligence from Marvel Comics in the superhero action film opening this Friday. While appearing on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert last week, Bening told the host she's portraying the God-like entity and leader of the Kree people, a population Captain Marvel both belongs to and is trying to save.
Not only is Captain Marvel the first time The Supreme Intelligence (also known as Supremor) will appear in a Marvel feature film, but it's the first time the entity, often referred to as a computer-like machine, will appear to be a gender other than male. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Supremor made its debut in 1967's Fantastic Four No. 65 and has since popped up in Marvel comic series, television shows, and video games, usually depicted as a large floating green head, not unlike the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz. The Supremor is essentially a computer-like amalgamation of the greatest Kree minds, utilized to help the likes of Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson in Captain Marvel) uplift the Krees and defeat the evil Skrulls, which is what Bening will be doing in the film, but in her own likeness rather than a disembodied head.
This is not the first time Marvel has employed such a gender swap, though: In 2016, Netflix cast Carrie-Anne Moss as Jeri Hogarth in their adaptation of Marvel's Jessica Jones, changing the comic book character of Jeryn to not only a woman, but the first lesbian in the Marvel television universe. That same year, Tilda Swinton was cast as as the male character of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange, a move that received criticism for Swinton's not being Asian like the original character. And in 2018, Hannah John-Kamen played Ghost, another traditionally male role, in Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Before Bening's confirmation of the role, many assumed she'd been cast as Carol Danvers' mother, Marie Danvers, which still isn't out of the question. Bening herself alluded to their being more to the character than what she could confirm thus far, and a 2018 Captain Marvel comic book hints that Marie has her own Kree past that could potentially connect Bening's Supremor to Carol's mother, should this new version allow the Supreme Intelligence to appear in other forms. On Good Morning America, Bening said she could neither confirm nor deny playing Carol's mom, but insisted "there is more than what we revealed" to her role in the film.
Bening and Larson's co-star Jude Law said every character of the Starforce has their own relationship to the Supremor, telling reporters, per CBR.com, that his character, Yon-Rogg, "has a very particular relationship with the Supreme Intelligence which becomes revealed and is quite complex and ultimately very revealing of what it is that motivates him."
"I've kind of based him almost on... not a religious fanatic but he's got a sort of divine sense of purpose because of his relationship with this greater being," Law said during a roundtable Q&A.
But Bening has said that she spends most of her screen time with Captain Marvel herself, and hinted that moviegoers will see a more human version of the Supreme Intelligence than previously depicted. (In the past, the disembodied version of the Supreme Intelligence has been immobile and lived within a holding tank.)
"I needed a crash course to understand what I was doing," Bening told Page Six of the film. "The way [Larson] does it is that she insists it’s real for her. That it’s grounded in the story. ... My way to do this was to relate to it on a personal, human level.”
It remains to be seen if Bening's Supremor will possess all of the powers afforded to those of the comics — including telepathy, telekinesis, cosmic awareness, sensory link, post-cognition, and precognition — but Marvel often allows for significant changes when adapting its comics content for on-screen. What we do know about Bening's version is that she's the HBIC, which is honestly fitting for a Captain Marvel written, directed by, and starring women.
As Bening told Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa of her character, "She's the leader of the Kree people" — emphasis on the she.