Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel kicked off a whole new dimension of intergalactic storytelling within the MCU as Brie Larson's Carol Danvers helped push the limits of what the franchise was doing in the cosmos. However, that initial movie looked different for a time, as it was originally set to feature DeWanda Wise as Carol's best friend and wingman Maria Rambeau.
Wise was eventually replaced with Lashana Lynch in the 2019 blockbuster as she played Maria in 1995. The character came in to help Carol reconnect with her past through their shared experiences along with Maria's daughter, Monica. Although it was revealed in WandaVision that Maria died during the five-year gap after Thanos' snap, Lynch returned to play her own version of Captain Marvel, who was a member of the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Even with Lynch having so much success within the MCU thus far, there's always that question of what Maria would have been like with Wise playing the role instead. And although there have been conflicting reports about why that change was made, Wise cleared the air on what exactly happened with her near-moment of Marvel Studios fame.
DeWanda Wise on Captain Marvel Experience
During the press tour for Jurassic World: Dominion, actress DeWanda Wise spoke with Gizmodo about the time when she almost played Maria Rambeau in Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel.
Wise made it clear that she did not choose to leave the project voluntarily; rather, she couldn't get out of the contract she had signed for Season 2 of She's Gotta Have It with Netflix and director Spike Lee. She admitted that it was "very disappointing" to have to give that role up, making for a difficult situation to deal with in terms of her work:
"Well, I always correct people. I did not choose to leave. Like, I would never make that choice for myself, that sounds ridiculous. You know, you sign a contract for a TV show and it’s in first position, and that’s just a responsible…you have audience members who are like, ‘I would’ve taken a lawsuit.’ Good for you. I don’t wanna be sued! Not trying to be sued by Spike Lee and Netflix. So, you know, at the time it was very disappointing, and also difficult in that context, you know."
However, it also set her up to have the opportunity to be a part of Jurassic World: Dominion, in which she plays a fighter pilot the way she would have in Captain Marvel. Being someone who's adamant that she doesn't "repeat performances," she wouldn't have taken the role in this movie if she had played Maria Rambeau, giving her a new opportunity this time around:
"We are obviously, a lot of actors, we see what you say. Like, we see when you’re being like, ‘Oh, you’re so stupid’ or whatever it is. And it’s a real practice to not get defensive when people are speaking about you like that online. But with this, obviously, clearly, if it’s not clear by now, Maria was a pilot, and to your point, what you just said earlier, I don’t repeat performances. So if I had played in Captain Marvel, if I’d already played a pilot, and then Colin called me for this and he’s like ‘Guess what? She’s a pilot,’ I would’ve been like ‘I’m so sorry, I don’t believe in capitalism. You’re gonna have to find someone else.’ You know? So, I just think everything happens in the timing that it’s meant to happen and I’m very thankful to be here now."
Could DeWanda Wise Return to the MCU?
Although DeWanda Wise made it clear that she wanted to be a part of Captain Marvel and the Marvel universe as a whole, it appears that everything worked out well for her career in the long run.
While the decision started as a tough one due to her contractual obligations, playing Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel would have stopped her from being in the new Jurassic World movie simply due to her own decision process. Whether this keeps her from any Marvel role in the future is still unknown, but she now gets to take on her own pilot role next to other MCU stars like Chris Pratt and Jeff Goldblum.
Given that she was able to get far enough in the process to land the role in the first place could suggest that Marvel Studios will keep an eye on her for a future MCU character down the line. Given the pantheon of Marvel characters that the MCU still has yet to cover, there's undoubtedly a role that Wise could fill. Perhaps the actress could slot in as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's rendition of Storm, or could portray a new version of Misty Knight.
At the moment, Maria's time in the MCU may be over after meeting her heartbreaking end before the events of WandaVision. However, as proven by Doctor Strange 2, she can't be counted out for a potential comeback at some point in the MCU's future. There is a chance that Lynch could be back in the role in The Marvels, possibly through a flashback to show some of her history with Carol or Monica. Evidence pointed towards Lashana Lynch's return, so there's a good chance Maria Rambeau could be back on the big screen very soon.
With the upcoming Ms Marvel TV show also heavily influenced by Captain Marvel, Carol's best friend could be included somehow to tie in toes her potential role on the show. Who knows? Perhaps DeWanda Wise could even be back to play Maria Rambeau, only this time as another universe's Variant.
Captain Marvel is available to stream on Disney+, with the sequel, The Marvels, premiering in theaters on July 28, 2023.