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The Marvels Villain Dar-Benn Explained

"The Marvels" features some of the biggest heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its leading roles — a star-studded team of Brie Larson's Captain Marvel, Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel, and Teyonah Parris' Monica Rambeau — but its central villain may just be the franchise's deepest cut yet for a main antagonist. For this adventure, the trio is going up against none other than Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), a Kree warrior with a personal vendetta against Captain Marvel.

Dar-Benn may not have the household name recognition of juggernaut foes like Thanos or Galactus, but the character does have deep roots in the original Marvel Comics. In fact, it has been well over 30 years since their first debut. Here's an overview of what fans should expect from the MCU's portrayal of the interstellar antagonist, what the villain is like in the source material, and how similar — or different — the two variations might be.

Dar-Benn in a vengeful Kree leader in The Marvels

Dar-Benn in "The Marvels" is quite the layered antagonist. As mentioned prior, the villain is a Kree revolutionary who bears a grudge against Captain Marvel, presumably for the turmoil the hero causes the Kree Empire by the ending of "Captain Marvel." She seeks both to move her empire beyond a longstanding civil war, and enact vengeance on those who have wronged her.

In a bit of intriguing background lore, the Dar-Benn of the MCU is an Accuser — essentially a Kree military general — just like the recurring MCU baddie Ronan (Lee Pace). She even holds the same sort of hammer-like weapon that Ronan wields in his appearances in both "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain Marvel." Not only that, but she also has a special bracelet that allows her to manipulate the light-based powers of heroes like Captain Marvel, so she's got quite the powerful arsenal.

Dar-Benn in "The Marvels" is played by Zawe Ashton (who just so happens to be the fiancee of Loki actor Tom Hiddleston, in a cool coincidence). In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the star spoke about her experience preparing for the character and how director Nia DaCosta advised her to emphasize physical fitness above all else. "That was the most freeing thing as a performer who thought the only way to be on camera in movies like this is to present aesthetically in a certain way," she said. "Having Nia's empowerment — and the empowerment of the stunt team — to know that it's about your mental attitude, your agility, and your strength was life-changing."

Dar-Benn is a niche pull from old Marvel Comics

Right off the bat, one of the biggest differences between the Dar-Benn of the comics and the Dar-Benn of the MCU is that the former was originally conceived as a male character. The villain made his first appearance in August 1991, where he came up not against Captain Marvel (or any other Marvels, for that matter), but rather the Silver Surfer — a big Marvel character yet to debut in the MCU.

It may already sound like there's a lot of differences between the original Dar-Benn and the new incarnation on the big screen, but many of the core characteristics are the same. In his original appearances, Dar-Benn is a Kree warrior who takes a deep interest in the politics of the Kree Empire. Through a sinister assassination plot, he has the Kree Emperor murdered and subsequently takes his place.

With Dar-Benn being around for more than three decades in the comics, fans may be wondering why they haven't heard of him until now. That's probably because his reign over the Kree is decidedly short-lived. Just several months after he was first introduced, the character was killed off. As seen in the "Avengers" issues of the time, Dar-Benn gets murdered in turn by Deathbird and his consciousness subsequently gets ported into the Supreme Intelligence. He has seldom been mentioned in the comics since then.