“The Marvels” reveals that Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers (Brie Larson) clearly hasn’t been talking with Spider-Man (Tom Holland) about the correlation between great power and great responsibility. In fact, much of the movie’s central conflict comes from the fact that her quest to do good has plunged an entire planet into darkness and disarray.
One of the big initial mysteries in “The Marvels” is the way every Kree warrior that comes her way keeps referring to Carol as “The Annihilator.” When we find out why, the nickname starts to make horrible sense. After the events of “Captain Marvel” soured her to the Supreme Intelligence (Annette Bening), Carol travels to the Kree homeworld, Hala, and destroys the artificial intelligence for good. Unfortunately, the Supreme Intelligence has ruled the Kree for so long that the power vacuum leads to a ruthless civil war that strips the planet of its natural resources and even dims its sun.
While Carol’s intentions were noble, and she doesn’t personally take away Hala’s water, oxygen, and sunlight, her assault on the Supreme Intelligence kickstarts the events — a fact that she’s all too well aware of and actively atoning for. With the powerful Supremor Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) actively blaming Captain Marvel for Hala’s sorry situation, it’s hardly a surprise that Carol has acquired her less-than-pleasant nickname among the Kree.
Carol isn’t Marvel’s first annihilation-themed character
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of references and Easter eggs, and as you might suspect, the Annihilator moniker doesn’t exactly come out of the blue. In fact, multiple characters have used the title in a variety of ways in Marvel Comics history.
The team known as, well, the Annihilators is an extension of the Guardians of the Galaxy, initiated by the comics version of Star-Lord and put together by Cosmo the Spacedog. This space-faring collection of galactic heavy-hitters was specifically formed to handle the kinds of problems the Guardians proper would struggle with. Apart from Cosmo, Ronan the Accuser and Beta Ray Bill – at least in statue form — have already appeared in the MCU, with the rest of the team comprised of galactic powerhouses such as Gladiator, Silver Surfer, and Quasar.
Another variation of the annihilation theme is far more villainous. Annihilus is a dangerous, technologically advanced supervillain warlord from the Negative Zone and a frequent foe of the Fantastic Four. But don’t expect the Annihilator moniker to have any ties to a new Fantastic Four movie or anything like that.
Thematically, Captain Marvel’s unsavory nickname seems to be closer to the Annihilators superteam in the sense that she, too, is an intergalactic powerhouse who’s not afraid to use force to keep the peace. As an interesting twist, however, it’s exclusively used as an insult by the people hurt by her actions, and it’s clear that Carol herself doesn’t particularly appreciate the name despite knowing full well why the Kree keep using it. There are many sides to every story, and depicting the otherwise heroic Carol as the villain from the Kree standpoint just goes to show that life as an all-powerful superhero is never simple.