For Marvel Studios’ upcoming film The Marvels, they did not lean into some of the more well-known villains from the pages of Marvel Comics. In fact, the film’s “big bad” is a fairly obscure character. One that even the most die-hard Marvel fans have likely forgotten about. Here’s what we know about Marvel’s Kree leader Dar-Benn, played by Zawe Ashton in The Marvels, their comic book origins, and how they factor into the overall MCU.
Who Is Marvel Comics’ Dar-Benn?
So just who is The Marvels‘ upcoming villain Dar-Benn in Marvel’s comics? Dar-Benn is a very minor Marvel Comics villain in the grand scheme of things, making only two appearances in the early ‘90s comics. The comics introduced Dar-Benn in the cosmic Marvel crossover Operation: Galactic Storm, in 1991’s issue #53 of Silver Surfer. A general in the great Kree Empire, Dar-Benn, along with Kree general Ael-Dann, coordinated a plot to assassinate a Kree leader named Clumsy Foulup. (Yes, that was his name. The ‘90s comics were not subtle). Aliens known as Cotati put Foulup in a leadership position. The generals later assassinated Foulup using an imposter robot Silver Surfer, leaving Dar-Benn and Ael-Dann as co-rulers of Marvel’s Kree Empire. However, this was a brief reign.
A brutal tyrant, Dar-Benn considered himself superior to the previous Kree leader. He saw that ruler as weak and believed they should eliminate him. Even the infamous Kree villain Ronan the Accuser was viewed as weak by Marvel Comics’ Dar-Benn. But he met his match when the Shi’ar leader Deathbird, often a foe of the X-Men and Carol Danvers, killed his right-hand man Ael-Dann in front of him. It wasn’t long after that Deathbird killed Dar-Benn too, and she became the new leader of the Kree Empire, now calling herself Viceroy Cal’syee Neramani. The minds of Dar-Benn and Ael-Dann were ultimately absorbed into the Kree Supreme Intelligence, and that was the end of Dar-Benn in Marvel Comics, at least for now. Often MCU appearances can bring comic book resurrections.
The MCU’s Dar-Benn Is the Villain in The Marvels
In the MCU, Marvel gender-swapped Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton) is now a former Accuser of the Kree Empire and the villain in The Marvels. This is much like Ronan’s title in Captain Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy. We learn in The Marvels that Dar-Benn was part of the Kree military when Carol Danvers, in an early act as Captain Marvel, destroyed the Supreme Intelligence on Hala, which controlled life on that planet. She actually witnessed Carol doing this, and nearly lost her life.
This act plunged Hala into a decades-long civil war that devastated the planet, and caused the Kree to name Carol “The Annihilator.” In The Marvels, Dar-Benn blames Carol for the fracturing of her planet, and its plunge into environmental disaster. Dar-Been begins siphoning natural resources from worlds Carol has a connection to in order to restore Hala, and also get revenge on her in the process.
Another deviation from Marvel Comics is that the MCU version of Dar-Benn wears a bangle identical to the one worn by Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. We learn in the film that the bangle she discovered buried on a moon is one-half of the Quantum Bands, powerful artifacts that helped map the galaxy eons ago. She uses the band to open jump points in places they don’t belong, hurting the fabric of spacetime. When she steals the other Quantum Band from Kamala Khan, she attempts to use it to siphon the power of Earth’s sun to save Hala’s own dying star. The effort proves too much for Dar-Benn in The Marvels and ultimately kills her.
What Are Dar-Benn’s Powers in The Marvels?
As a very skilled Kree warrior, Dar-Benn is an expert in armed and unarmed combat. Usually, they wield either a gun or a staff that dispels a very deadly energy beam. In The Marvels, it seems Dar-Benn holds the Warhammer, or “cosmi-rod,” of a Kree Accuser. Combined with the power of one of the Quantum Bands, Dar-Benn renames it “the Universal Weapon.” This makes The Marvel‘s villain nearly as powerful as Carol, even though the power is not innate to Dar-Benn, and she needs the weapon to wield it.
Who Plays Dar-Benn in The Marvels?
Actress and filmmaker Zawe Ashton plays Dar-Benn in The Marvels. She’s famous for her roles in Not Safe for Work and the Netflix horror thriller film Velvet Buzzsaw. She has one other rather big MCU connection, though. She and Tom Hiddleston, a.k.a. Loki, are a couple.
The Marvels, starring Brie Larson, Iman Vellani, and Teyonah Parris, is in theaters now.
Originally published on October 16, 2023.