Character Spotlight: Captain Britain

Not only is Captain Britain a wonderful and oft overlooked character, but I happen to think he’d be rather spiffing on television.
captain-britainIn the late 70’s realised that across the pond their reprints of old stories were a hot seller, so Stan The Man commissioned the creation of an entirely new character with English roots. Not long after that Chris Claremont (who lived in the UK in his youth) and Herb Trimpe created basically an Arthurian powered, Union Jack draped Ninja. In truth, though, Cap only really found his footing under the penmanship of Alan Moore & Alan Davis; effectively rebooting the character and introducing many of the elements I’m going to discuss within this article.
Marvel’s UK characters have always had a loyal cult following and the Marvel UK division published several original books from the mid 70’s up until the the mid 90’s and had something of a revival thanks to a recent event called Revolutionary War. Captain Britain became so popular initially that most of his characters were adopted into the US written X-Men books where he would go on to form Excalibur, a British based Superhero team, and MI: 13 followed it. The whole of the Marvel UK catalogue of characters is rarely used and I personally think that’s a shame because it’s a very deep well… Believe it or not there is even a Captain Midlands!
Rumours were abound recently that we might be getting a Captain Britain TV Show… Turns out fans were a little overzealous as of this moment in time as its currently just a pitch. It would, however, be very interesting concept and could be possibly the most unique Marvel product out there. So here’s a run-down of the elements Marvel could use to make it rather spiffing.
Let’s start from the tippy top.
Multiverse
Captain Britain was the first Marvel comic to introduce the idea of a Multiverse in the MU. The theory goes that all universes occupy the same space but all vibrate at different frequencies and that’s why they never interact. Merlin (yes the Arthurian wizard who initially brought Cap back to life and gave him his powers) as the caretaker of the Multiverse creates his own Corps of Captain Britains; his champions from every known parallel universe all with the sworn duty of protecting all that is (even the Nazi one). Just to put that in perspective each Corps member is the protector of a whole universe, not just one sector of space.
Suck it Green Lantern Corps!
One of my favourite shows as a kid was Sliders, a sci-fi show where every episode the characters end up on an alternate earth only to slide to the next one, hoping it will take them home. Now, imagine that but with Superheroes! Not only that, English Superheroes! Plus they could save money on actors too by having them play their counter-Earth counterparts. I’m not really one for patriotism but aside from V For Vendetta, Cap is the only character to give me those kinds of feels…
Mad Jim Jaspers’ Warp
Jim Jaspers was a right wing politician who took a hard stance against people slightly different from him. Sound familiar? Little did he know he was, in fact, a mutant; a member of the very same species he had tried to round up into camps and silence.
This fact and his reality warping powers drove him completely insane.
Jasper’s Warp as it was known had such a devastating effect on his universe it began to poison the entire Multiverse itself! Not only that, he managed to create new life on the planet as well as alter the existing life forms, including his ‘Crazy Gang’: a super powered team straight out of a nightmare Alice in Wonderland, The Warpies, children whose DNA had been altered so much and in such bizarre ways that their lifespans were tragically shortened, but his most terrible creation has to be The Fury, a cyborg of incredible power that in his very first appearance kills Captain Britain!
Now that’s how you introduce a baddie!
Created as a means to kill all superheroes part animal, part machine with the ability to adapt, change and absorbs new abilities, The Fury hunted down the revived Cap throughout the multiverse.
The Terminator of superheroes. He’ll always be back.
Opal Luna Saturnyne & The Technet
excalibur24Like a lot of people, I’m still crying out for more female comic book characters on screen. Especially villains! Well, how about two-for-one? Saturnyne is parallel version of Captain Britain’s first love but this version is a cold calculating opportunist who will step on everybody to get to the top (don’t ask me why I’m using a Showgirls reference while flying the flag for feminism). She is already The Majestrix of Otherworld a mystical realm of of Arthurian lore where Avalon resides along with various other magical creatures and beings including Roma; Merlyn’s replacement as Omniversal Guardian, her rival in her pursuit for power.
With her looking the spit of Cap’s former flame I think there some fun to be had there.
To do her evil bidding, Opal often hires Gatecrasher & her Technet a group bizarre of multiversal bounty hunters including Joyboy (a floating baby-like creature who’s main ability is wish fulfilment, but as the saying goes be careful what wish for).
In one scene he made Captain Britain orgasm in order to incapacitate him which is indeed as weird, creepy and wrong as it sounds.
Gatecrasher is an incredibly well built, intelligent and talented leader and when you throw in her technological and psychic abilities to boot her Technet are the kind of people you really don’t want to invite to the party.
Magic
Minus a smattering of Eastern hocus pocus in Daredevil Season 2 and the upcoming Dr. Strange we’ve not really seen Marvel delve into the mystical side of their characters in the MCU. In MI:13 (a UK government supported superhero group) they had to make a deal to unleash all the magical creatures, both good and bad, in the order to fight back an alien invasion. This made Britain a magical focal point because of its links to Merlyn and Otherworld.
It became their job to hunt the magical escapees including Lillith, Mother Of Monsters, Satannish and even Dracula who in the finale of that particular series fires vampires at England from his castle on the moon… Who in their right minds wouldn’t want to see that smorgasbord of awesome??
This could even be a back-door pilot for a Blade spin off (who believe it or not is English born no matter what the tax-evading Wesley Snipes might tell you) and while you’re at it why not throw in Elsa Bloodstone, another English monster hunter because if the UK has ever needed anything it’s a Brit Buffy!
Just one last one of my favourite characters introduced in that series is Faiza Hussain a British-born Muslim doctor who is a massive superhero fan girl and the current wielder of Excalibur (The sword not the UK superhero team).
If Marvel put her on the small screen I might just lose my shit!
WWII
I don’t about you, but I’m sometimes feel Captain America tends to hog the spotlight when it comes to this era in the MU.
Not that the help wasn’t appreciated, but let’s be honest we were fighting first and longest and England suffered for it. It is huge part of our heritage and culture as a nation and it would be nice to see flashbacks featuring other heroes of the era including Union Jack who fought in both World Wars, a mantle that has been passed on from generation to generation not unlike Lee Falk’s “The Phantom”.
Not only that his, Union Jack’s arch-villain is one of the most unique characters in comics, a Nazi spy who is bitten by Dracula and is transformed into Baron Blood.
That’s right a Nazi Vampire! You just don’t get more evil than that.
I’m not saying that it should be set at that time not that that couldn’t work as we’ve seen with Agent Carter. I think flashbacks would be best, perhaps The Baron returns and someone finds some new blood (forgive the pun) to carry on the legacy of Britain’s first hero.
Dai Thomas
Now, if the shows producers didn’t feel like going in any of those directions and wanted to keep it more grounded, there is no one more grounded than the grizzled Welsh detective Dai Thomas who is the connective tissue for many of these characters, much like Claire Temple in the current Marvel / Netflix shows.
Though he seems to spend a lot of time with superheroes he doesn’t like them too much. While in the US, his wife perished in a superpowered brawl, which effected him deeply (you think Bruce was pissed off in BvS, you ain’t seen nothing!). This could easily tie in with the current state of the MCU i.e. Civil War.  At one point, Thomas even pursued a vendetta against Captain Britain, only to later be empowered by the spirit of an Arthurian knight.
Oh the irony!
Slaymaster/Vixen/Mystech
Staying with idea of a more grounded series, one of the best villains in Captain Britain’s roster is the master assassin Slaymaster, a man so skilled he can penetrate Cap’s vaunted personal force field. He is also a savage bastard when Betsy Braddock (better known as Psylocke) briefly took over as Captain Britain.
Slaymaster tore out her eyes with his bare hands… Bit much.
Not long before this she also had to psychically lobotomise an alternate earth version of her brother who tried to rape her. Betsy has just the worst luck! Slaymaster often works for the elderly female crime lord Vixen who is unique all on her own.
In my humble opinion the scariest villain in DD season one was Madame Gao, her creepy walk and manner was just an effort to hide her power that could put Daredevil on his ass.  If they approached Vixen a similar way she’d smash it.
“But Danny B where’s my shadowy organisation pulling everybody strings?” You ask?
Well Mys-Tech are a group of board members who sold their souls to a demon for immortality (probably a bunch of bankers am I right?) but in order to stay immortal they have to offer up the souls of innocents to appease the demon. If they didn’t want to bring that element in it could still work as evil organisation on the level of Hydra or AIM.
The Mutant Problem
news_illustre_1427656003_647Now the only stumbling block this series could have is Cap’s links to Fox’s X-Men franchise. In fact he in fact may or may not be owned by Fox because it’s inferred at at least one point in his publication history that he is a mutant, his sister being the X-Man Psylocke, Arcade being one of his earliest villains and his brother and Jim Jaspers and various other characters being mutants.
But as we’ve seen, Marvel are certainly pushing the Inhuman angle in Agents of SHIELD in order to explain various superpowers and we are likely to see more of this as we get closer to the movie. Or the characters could just be written off under the umbrella term “enhanced” as with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
They could even go the Thor route with the magic and say that it and science are one and the same and use that to effect super empowerment.
Cap’s waters have been muddied over the years as to where his powers originate from, be they mutant/magic/otherworldly or hybrid so I doubt it would be that hard to redefine them once again.
When it comes to Psylocke, as I wrote recently she had her body swapped with an oriental assassin but prior to that she was a Caucasian with purple hair. In the Fox films she is always represented as Asian and there has been no reference to her being Betsy Braddock either.
So, much like Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver there could be a deal that could be made. To be honest, with the success that Fox have had I doubt a Captain Britain film is even on their agenda so throw us Limeys a bone will you?
And throw in Arcade for good measure you’re not using him!
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this sojourn through the often unexplored UK side of the Marvel Universe.
There so many more amazing elements to Captain Britain’s mythology that I’ve more than likely not touched on please let us know if I’ve missed out anything I should have mentioned.
But for now I’ll just say Tah-rah!

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