An important character to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Photon, Monica Rambeau’s superhero alter-ego, but what are her powers and origins in the MCU and Marvel Comics? Photon is set to be part of the upcoming MCU Phase 5 film The Marvels, making up one-third of the titular trio. Alongside Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau will make up another MCU super-team that will likely be integral to the Multiverse Saga’s conclusion.
Monica Rambeau first appeared in the MCU in 2019. Since then, the character has evolved in several different ways, from growing up over two decades in-universe to developing her own superpowers that set up her appearance in The Marvels’ cast and story. With that said, here is every element of Monica Rambeau/Photon explained from her MCU powers and origins to the differences in that respect to Marvel Comics and her connections to other major Marvel Studios characters.
Photon’s Origin In Marvel Comics Explained
When concerning Photon’s origin in Marvel Comics, it is slightly different from how it was in the MCU. In Monica Rambeau’s Photon Marvel Comics series, Monica was in the U.S. Navy and struggled to ascend to the rank of Captain given the obstacles that faced her as a black woman in America. Eventually, she investigated a Roxxon oil rig near the Gulf of Mexico with an ally of her grandfather named Professor André LeClare to retrieve an energy-draining device. After a series of mishaps, Monica ended up destroying the energy disruptor with her bare hands with the event giving her superpowers due to Monica being bombarded with extra-dimensional energy.
These powers allowed Monica to transform her body’s molecular structure into any form of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum. This led to her becoming known as Captain Marvel before she eventually conceded the name to Genis-Vell, the son of the original Captain Marvel, so that he could continue his father’s legacy. Monica Rambeau then became Photon as the name better matched her superpowered abilities, explaining her Marvel Comics origin story.
How Photon’s Origin Was Changed For The MCU
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe though, Photon’s origin story was changed quite extensively. In the MCU, Monica Rambeau was reintroduced to the MCU after the Blip as an agent of SWORD. Rambeau was sent to investigate the Westfield Anomaly alongside FBI Agent Jimmy Woo. The Westfield Anomaly was conjured by Wanda Maximoff with an electromagnetic barrier, named the Hex, being placed around the town of Westfield.
This was created by Wanda as a coping mechanism for the loss of Vision, with everyone inside the Hex being forced to act in a sitcom surrounding Wanda and Vision’s marriage by the former’s magic. Eventually, Monica Rambeau was sucked into the Hex before being ejected by Wanda for trying to coerce her into facing reality. Monica then entered the Hex a second time to further attempt to break Wanda’s spell, with her constant crossing of the Hex’s barrier changing Monica’s molecular structure. As such, the Hex is what provided Photon with her powers in the MCU, a drastic change from her Marvel Comics origin.
What Powers Monica Rambeau’s Photon Has In The MCU
Regarding what powers Photon possesses in the MCU, the answer is somewhat unclear, though various hints provide some clues to them being the same as her Marvel Comics counterpart. For one, after crossing the Hex barrier the third time, Rambeau could visibly see the electromagnetic waves emitted from various points. Her eyesight changed to allow her to see these types of energy, also linking to Monica’s line in the official trailer for The Marvels that she can “see” light. In the teaser trailer for the upcoming Phase 5 film, Monica also stated that she can manipulate light energy.
These powers seem to fall under the same umbrella that was revealed by Monica in The Marvels’ special look, detailing the coming together of her, Carol, and Kamala. Monica explains to Carol that her powers allow her to manipulate wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. While this is the same as her powers from Marvel Comics, they are yet to be seen to their full effect in the MCU outside of WandaVision, something The Marvels is undoubtedly going to change when it releases in November 2023.
What Monica Rambeau Is Doing Now In The MCU
The first time Monica was seen in the MCU was in 2019’s Captain Marvel which was set in the 1990s when she was a child. Monica’s next appearance came in 2021’s WandaVision set after the Blip meaning she was much older. It was revealed that Monica had joined SWORD, a company started by her mother Maria Rambeau who interestingly went under the call sign Photon, with The Marvels paying off the Photon Easter egg by giving Monica that name too. WandaVision also revealed that Monica was a victim of Thanos’ snap from Avengers: Infinity War.
During the five-year gap between Thanos’ snap and Hulk’s which brought the Blip victims back, Monica’s mother passed away. Maria insisted that should the victims of the snap ever return, those who work for SWORD remained grounded on Earth with no interplanetary operations. This applied to Monica too which resulted in her being assigned the Westfield case that provided her with superpowers. As of the end of WandaVision, Monica was called to SABER, SWORD’s space station, by Nick Fury which leads directly into the beginning of The Marvels.
How Monica Rambeau Is Connected To Captain Marvel
The final thing worth exploring concerning Monica Rambeau in the MCU is her connection to Captain Marvel. The connection between Monica and Carol comes through Maria Rambeau. Monica’s mother served with Carol in the U.S. Air Force and the two quickly became best friends. As such, Carol was essentially an aunt to Monica growing up, spending lots of time with her before Carol disappeared due to being kidnapped by the Kree. Carol and Monica reunited in Captain Marvel when the former reforged her friendship with Maria after returning to Earth.
Interestingly, WandaVision teased that Monica is now angry at Carol in the present-day MCU. The latter left Earth again to help the Skrulls and did not return until Avengers: Endgame meaning she missed the death of Maria Rambeau and abandoned her and Monica. This will undoubtedly be explored in The Marvels with the two also being connected through their powers. The core premise of The Marvels surrounds the intertwining of Carol, Monica, and Kamala’s powers. While connected through familial bonds, Monica Rambeau also has a bigger story reason for being connected to Captain Marvel that will play out in The Marvels, scheduled to release on November 10, 2023.
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
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