What is Captain Britain? Secret history of MCU’s new Captain Britain superhero

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She’s technically not Captain Britain. Peggy Carter, an agent, becomes a Union Jack-clad Captain America-style shield-wielding superhero at episode 1 of What If. She insists on the new rank of “Captain Carter.”

But that is exactly what you would expect of a Captain Britain. It’s unlikely they’d take on such an extravagant mantle. The egoism in America has been a constant theme of British culture. Although their fictional heroes are super-powered they still keep it modest. You can call them Harry Potter, The Doctor or by their secret number (007). Never let them assume that they can speak for an entire country, especially one that contains four different countries.

Marvel was unable to grasp this concept when it introduced Captain Britain in 1976 to the skeptical British public. After several floundering iterations, the character only came to life thanks to budding British comics genius Alan Moore. This Cap was recruited by the future Watchmen author and V for Vendetta writer to fight fascism. Unfortunately, his fight with Marvel prevented us from viewing the original story.

Americans should not feel ashamed of having never heard about Captain Britain. Most British citizens have also never heard of the character. The character still lives in a strange sort of half-life in Marvel comics. The title of Captain Britain is not held by one person. It is shared around, and often held by women characters. This makes Peggy Carter’s assumed role in the Marvel comics less shocking than you may think. To protect Marvel’s multiverse, many Marvel worlds have a Captain Britain. They formed a “Captain Britain Corps” and joined forces to create a Captain Britain Corps.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has begun to get interested in multiverses in Phase 4. It should not be surprising that Captain Britain finally gets his due. According to the What If creators, Captain Carter will be back in season two and three. Rumours persist, however, that Captain Britain in live action will join the MCU via Doctor Strange or the Multiverse of Madness.

Whether that’s true, or just another case of superfans misreading the runes, it’s high time MCU viewers familiarize themselves with the bizarre backstory of this splintered superhero.

Captain Britain 1.

Cap vs. Cap in ‘Captain Britain’ issue 16 (1977).
Credit: marvel

New York-based Marvel tried to reverse the British invasion after its phenomenal success in America’s comics market in 1960. The company attempted to create a British “homegrown” superhero with Captain Britain. The comic book, which he self-titled, was a Trojan horse. It also featured Nick Fury and Fantastic Four stories for a UK audience. Stan Lee was inspired to create Captain Britain by X_Men writer Chris Claremont. Claremont is an American, who had at least the benefit of having been born in London.

Claremont stated that “In those Dark Ages before anyone Over Here understood what was Over There,” especially considering the fact that sheets could not easily be faxed in 1976.

The culturally-appropriated character he created was a strange mix of British mysticism and American costumery. Brian Braddock is a researcher scientist who escapes the villainous invasion of Darkmoor. He finds a circle with standing stones, and meets Merlyn. Merlyn transforms Braddock into an muscle-bound, lycra-clad hero equipped with a strange telescoping lance.

The Financial Times called first issue “farragos of illiterate absurdity.” The sales were low. Claremont quit after issue 10. Braddock was also skeptical after issue 10.

Marvel attempted crossovers with Spider-Man. Braddock was reportedly made roommates in New York with Peter Parker. Captain America, whose long-time adversary, the Red Skull arrived to the UK, also tried it. This didn’t work. Captain Britain was terminated at issue 39. This happened just after its hypnotized protagonist attempted to kill Queen Elizabeth II during her biggest British event, the Silver Jubilee.

The comics continued to feature the character, and he became sidekick of The Black Knight (an “Otherworld”) full of magic and Arthurian legend. In 1981 Marvel UK tried a reboot with a new costume, given that the lion on Captain Britain’s chest looked to many Brits like three lions on the shirt.)

With British writer Dave Thorpe as the head, Captain Britain was still struggling to get his feet under the white pants and bulky boots worn by Buckingham Palace’s guards. Thorpe took Braddock into an alternate world with a dystopian UK. However, he was fired in 1982 because of his political views. He allegedly proposed a storyline in which Captain Britain would end the Northern Ireland troubles. His American editors saw the problem in a Union Jack-clad hero winning over Irish Republicans, at a moment when their heroes were still on hunger strike inside British prisons.

Captain Britain 2.0

Alan Moore’s Captain Britain keeps it real while drinking tea with a UK family.
Credit: Marvel

Enter Alan Moore, a British comics writer and then unknown to Thorpe. Moore used Jim Jaspers, a minor character from Thorpe’s taleline to explore his prescient fear of homegrown fascism. Moore made Jaspers an extreme conservative politician, who gained power through amplification of fear about mutants and superhumans.

Days of Future Past is over. Except that Jaspers, a magical mutant, could turn all of reality into one Mad Hatter’s tea party. After much dark Lewis Carrol-style shenanigans Jaspers’ anti-superhero device, The Fury hunts Braddock down and kills him in a cemetery. Merlyn, his daughter Roma and their augmented characters, The Fury, are now able to rebuild Captain Britain. They can also access his past memories, conjuring his soul.

Braddock is reconstructed without him knowing it. He returns to normal reality, better known to Marvel fan as Earth 616. This designation first appeared in Captain Britain. It is here that Jaspers fascist takeover occurs again, which is chilling. Braddock overcomes him using the assistance of several similar heroes — Captain UK (both men), Captain Albion (both ladies) and the Orwellian captain Airstrip 1. The Captain Britain Corps later became this gang. They reunite to honor Merlyn at Merlyn’s funeral.

The creators of Marvel UK had full control and Alan Moore’s amazing work has been limited to a few out-of print editions. Moore was unhappy about unpaid invoices. It also didn’t help Marvel suing another comics publisher over Marvelman. Moore revived an old-school preMarvel character, which is now known as Miracleman in the U.S.

In 1985 saw another attempt to create a solo Captain Britain comic. Artist Alan Davis slowly took over the writing. Braddock was able to match the changing mood and at one time quit the Captain Britain role. His psychic mutant sister Betsy Braddock became a member of the X-Men, becoming known as Psylocke. She briefly assumed the Captain Britain role for the first (but not last) time. They fight alongside and against Dai Thomas, an antisuperheroic police inspector. The manor of their parents is where they have their headquarters. After that, it becomes a lighthouse.

Marvel didn’t stop trying to make Captain Britain a reality, but it seemed to have realized that Captain Britain was not suited to be a single hero. The American style of egotism disappeared from this point. From that point on, Captain Britain was only allowed to appear in a team.

Excalibur, and all that follows

Dr. Faiza Hussain (also known as Excalibur) reclaims The Union Jack in her brief stint as Captain Britain.
Credit: marvel

Based on comic sales, Captain Britain’s first successful appearance was in Excalibur. This magazine lasted for an incredible 125 issues between 1988 and 1998. After the death of the X-Men in the UK, excalibur was a superhero team that included the classic Marvel characters Nightcrawler and Phoenix. Shadowcat, a.k.a. Kitty Pryde). Chris Claremont and Alan Davis teamed up to make fun, simple romps across parallel worlds. Braddock’s biggest problem was Meggan, a werewolf-shaped shape-shifter, who kept falling in love with X-Men (first Nightcrawler then Colossus). Braddock and Meggan were married in the last issue.

It is not, but it does. To use an old phrase from Captain Britain comics: Never The End. Braddock and Meggan were in control of Otherworld for some time, but were then separated by the events of House of M. This comic book inspired MCU’s first television show WandaVision. They were then reunited after Captain Britain joined a secretive government agency called MI:13.

Faiza Hussain was a British Muslim Doctor who worked alongside Captain Britain. She draws Excalibur the ancient sword from the stone and takes that name as her superpower. Hussain assumes the title Captain Britain in an alternate timeline, where the multiverse is gone and has been replaced with something called Battleworld. Hussain declares, “We get to choose what it means,” when the Union Jack is revealed. Hear!

A handful of out-of-context comic panels, Captain Britain, and the Mighty Defenders from the short series, sparked a backlash by conservatives who didn’t know what was happening in the comics. Not that Marvel was avoiding taking a political stance, with Claremont insisting that Captain Britain would have voted against Brexit.

Rumours circulated that Brian Braddock might appear in the MCU. Simon Pegg denied that he was set to play the character. The film producer said he had pitched a Captain Britain TV series to Marvel Entertainment. MCU chief Tom Collins confirmed that they have “examined” the possibility of bringing Captain Britain onto screen. However, nothing seems to have happened prior to What If.

This brings us to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first mention of Braddock. S.H.I.E.L.D. is seen in the time-travelling Avengers Endgame. Peggy Carter, cofounder of S.H.I.E.L.D. is seen learning in 1970 from one her S.H.I.E.L.D. students. Agents that Braddock’s unit was stopped by lightning strikes

Is that just an Easter egg for Marvel Comics readers? Perhaps a hint at a possible appearance by the iconic Captain Britain in the future? A clever misdirection that leaves us unprepared to allow another Peggy Carter, a different version, to assume the role?

There will be more information in her future What Ifappearances. But don’t worry if there are more rumors about the next Doctor Strange film, when the Marvel multiverse explodes on the big screen. It is never the end in the MCU. This was evident from the strange and long story of Captain Britain.

Publiated at Thu 12 August 2021, 00:23.23 (+0000).

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