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Warning: SPOILERS are ahead!
Just because Captain Marvel is set in 1995, 13 years before the modern events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe unfolded, doesn’t mean that the movie didn’t have ties to other corners of this superhero franchise. Unquestionably the biggest example of this was pairing Nick Fury with Carol Danvers and showing how the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent learned about superheroes and aliens, as well as how he lost his 20/20 vision. But he wasn’t the only familiar face who appeared in Captain Marvel: Guardians of the Galaxy villains Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer also popped in during Carol’s origin story. The movie could have been a platform to make both of those characters more interesting, but unfortunately, it failed to accomplish this.
It’s been nearly five full years since we first met Lee Pace’s Ronan and Djimon Honsou’s Korath, with Guardians of the Galaxy showing the latter serving the former in his quest to wipe out Xandar. Since Korath was Guardians of the Galaxy’s tertiary antagonist, it was hardly surprising that he wasn’t fleshed out during the movie, but even though we knew about Ronan’s radicalism and his disgust with the Kree empire signing a peace treaty with Xandar, he failed to come off as a fascinating villain. Ultimately both those characters were killed by the Guardians, and so naturally it was assumed for years that’s the first and only time we’d ever see them in the MCU.
Then it was announced around this time last year that younger versions of Ronan and Korath would appear in Captain Marvel, which made sense given that like her comic book counterpart, Brie Larson’s Carol’s origins are tied to the Kree. Since Captain Marvel takes place a little over two decades before Guardians of the Galaxy, that’s enough time for these two to be portrayed at least slightly differently than they were before. More importantly, Captain Marvel could foreshadow how these two are put on the path that ends with them being Kree outcasts set on destroying an entire planet.
So what does the movie do with Ronan and Korath? Well, Korath is a member of Starforce alongside Carol, Yon-Rogg, Minn-Erva, Att-Lass and Bron-Char. Outside Korath talking about his experience with facing down a Skrull and the other members joking at the beginning of Captain Marvel about how he’s humorless, which Korath strongly denies (he laughs, just on the inside), he doesn’t get any focus. He’s with the other Starforce operatives as they carry out their missions on Torfa and Earth (the latter including Mar-Vell’s base in orbit), but there’s nothing that particularly highlights him compared to his Kree partners other than Yon-Rogg. Minn-Erva arguably stands out more because at least she was gunned down by Maria Rambeau while chasing after Carol.
As for Ronan, we find out why he’s called the Accuser: because he was part of the of the same-named division of the Kree military, which would see him ordering warheads to be dropped on planets to wipe out the enemy Skrulls. Although there’s a official still of Ronan in the same room as the Starforce, in the final Captain Marvel cut, he never had any direct face time with them. Instead, he communicated with the team over hologram, first blaming Yon-Rogg for their failure on Torfa and then arriving to Earth after Yon-Rogg contacted him about eliminating Talos and the other Skrulls. Still a dutiful servant of the Kree empire at this stage of his life, Yon-Rogg ordered that Earth be bombed, but the fully-powered Carol Danvers destroyed the warheads and one of his ships, prompting him to order a retreat and declare that he would return to capture Carol and use her as a weapon.
Given how things turned out for Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy and that Carol Danvers is alive and well in the present day, obviously he didn’t fulfill this promise, but that’s beside the point. The point is that Captain Marvel failed to effectively use Ronan and Korath. Obviously these two were never going to be the most important players in this movie, but it’s a problem when you could replace either of them with other characters, be they also from the Marvel Comics pages or original creations, and the story wouldn’t be any different. There was nothing about these younger depictions of Ronan and Korath that made them more compelling.
Ronan in particular suffers as a result. Xandar doesn’t factor into Captain Marvel whatsoever, but it still would have been great if something laid the groundwork for Ronan to become the zealot we met in Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe something could have happened during his mission on Earth that made him realize the Kree empire, more specifically the Supreme Intelligence, is not infallible. Instead, he’s just as loyal to his Kree superiors at the end of the movie, and now we’ve been teased about a goal of his that we probably won’t ever see. Although a hypothetical Captain Marvel 2 could take a page from Wonder Woman 1984’s book and be set in the interim decades between when she left with the Skrulls and when she returned post-Decimation, but that hasn’t even been rumored yet.
In Korath’s case, it would have been nice to learn how he became affiliated with Ronan, because while the two of them do technically share screen time since Korath is near Yon-Rogg as the Starforce leader talking with Ronan over hologram, Korath and Ronan never actually interact with one another. Korath presumably already knew about Ronan by reputation, but we get no sense in Captain Marvel in why Korath would be willing to abandon the Kree empire to serve Ronan years later. Maybe Starforce’s failure to eliminate the Skrulls and bring back Carol Danvers resulted in Korath, Yon-Rogg and the surviving members being demoted, which could lead to Korath’s own disillusionment, but there’s absolutely no hint of that by the time the credits roll.
Captain Marvel did a good job of telling Carol Danvers’ origin story, revealing how Nick Fury started to become the badass spymaster we know best, and delivering a welcome twist by not depicting the Skrulls as pure evil. Unfortunately for Ronan and Korath, they were underserved in the story, and their actions here don’t do anything to improve how they were shown in Guardians of the Galaxy. It was definitely a wasted opportunity.
Let us know what you thought of how Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer were used in Captain Marvel below. While it remains to if we’ll ever see these incarnations of the characters ever again, Carol Danvers will be back for Avengers: Endgame on April 26.