Captain Britain is a superhero created by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe for the Marvel UK imprint of Marvel Comics. The title has been used by three major characters, all of British origin; Brian Braddock, Kelsey Leigh, and Elizabeth "Betsy" Braddock.
The first Captain Britain, introduced in 1976 as the lead of a new Anthology Comic, the eponymous Captain Britain Weekly, was Brian Braddock. A studious youth from a wealthy, aristocratic family, Brian was a promising physicist who took a fellowship at a nuclear research centre. When the facility was attacked by villain Joshua Stragg, Brian tried to find help - but was nearly killed when his motorbike went off the road during a chase.
A vision of Merlin appeared to the badly injured Brian, giving him a choice between an amulet and a sword. Considering himself to be no warrior, he chose the amulet and was transformed into Captain Britain.
Stories eventually introduced Brian's siblings, Jamie and Betsy, and revealed that their deceased father was one of Merlin’s servants from Otherworld. Brian's transformation was revealed to be part of the family's destiny.
It was also revealed that Merlin and his daughter Roma had created a Captain Britain Corps spanning a huge number of alternate universes, with Brian just one of its many members.
After Captain Britain Weekly ended, Brian’s adventures continued in solo Captain Britain stories within several different Marvel UK anthology titles. Most notably, Alan Moore wrote most of a long arc (A Crooked World) that was serialised in Marvel Super-Heroes, The Daredevils and Mighty World of Marvel.
Shortly after Moore left the series, it was relaunched as the lead story in its own 1985 anthology title, Captain Britain Monthly. This marked the last time the Marvel UK line published a solo Captain Britain comic and, as of March 2022, the last time Marvel has ever published a Captain Britain solo series.
Around this time, Captain Britain's creator Chris Claremont, who was then writing the X-Men, started to use Brian and Betsy in those comics, raising the characters’ profile for Marvel readers outside the UK. Betsy, as Psylocke, became a long-serving member of the X-Men and Brian became a founding member of new X-team Excalibur.
Eventually, Brian semi-retired and became one of the rulers of Otherworld alongside his wife, the shapeshifter Meggan.
In 2004, The Avengers writer Chuck Austen introduced a new Captain Britain in that series, Kelsey Leigh, a single mother and schoolteacher Caught up in a battle between the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew, Kelsey intervened to protect Captain America and the Wasp. Although she saved them, she suffered severe injuries and died en-route to medical facilities.
Waking in a ring of standing stones, a vision of Brian Braddock offered her a second chance and the traditional choice between the Sword of Might and Amulet of Right. Kelsey, unlike Brian, chose the sword, becoming a very different Captain Britain. She briefly served with the Avengers, until she was badly injured during the events of Disassembled.
Brian later returned to Earth and reclaimed the mantle of Captain Britain, with Kelsey taking on the alias of Lionheart. Brian continued with his life and adventures, even joining the Avengers.
Following the X-Men: The Krakoan Age relaunch, Brian's sister Betsy Braddock is forced to replace him as Captain Britain (at which point Brian instead becomes Captain Avalon). With Otherworld in turmoil and Morgan le Fey trying to destroy mutantkind, Betsy defends mutants, initially with the help of a new Excalibur and later with the Knights of X.
Captain Britain appears in:
Solo Captain Britain comic seriesFrom Marvel UK. These were anthology titles containing Captain Britain stories, and are listed in chronological order:
- Captain Britain Weekly (1976-1977)
- Super Spider-Man & Captain Britain
- Marvel Super-Heroes (The start of the A Crooked World arc)
- The Daredevils (Features most of the Crooked World arc)
- Mighty World of Marvel (Including the end of the A Crooked World arc)
- Captain Britain Monthly (1985-1986)
From the main Marvel Comics imprint:
- Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain (2023), published as part of the X-Men franchise and part of the Krakoan Age saga.
- Age of Ultron: Avengers Assemble
- The Avengers
- Avengers vs. X-Men
- Captain Britain and MI13
- Earth X
- Excalibur (Marvel Comics)
- Avengers Disassembled
- New Excalibur
- Secret Avengers
- Secret Invasion
- Uncanny X-Force vol. 1
- X-Men: Die by the Sword
- Excalibur (2019)
- X of Swords
- Knights of X
- X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997) (cameo)
- The Super Hero Squad Show (2009-2011): Voiced by Charlie Adler.
- Marvel Anime: X-Men (2011) (cameo)
- Marvel: Avengers Alliance (2012-2016): appears as recruitable playable hero.
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: appears as unlockable playable hero. Voiced by JB Blanc.
- LEGO Marvel's Avengers (2016)
Captain Britain’s comic appearances provide examples of the following tropes:
- Affirmative-Action Legacy: The first Captain Britain is male, both his successors are female. In the Age of Ultron alternate universe, Brian bequeaths the power of Captain Britain to Fazia Hussein, a Muslim woman.
- Alliance of Alternates: The Captain Britain Corps are the mystically powered protectors of the multiverse under the direction of Roma and Opal Luna Saturnyne. A lot of them, for whatever reason, are alternate versions of Brian. When they get brought back in X of Swords, they are now mostly alternate Betsys.
- Alternate History Wank: The Captain Britain Corps has a member, Centurion Britannus, from an earth in which the Roman Empire never fragmented. It also has at least one world where the Nazis won WWII.
- America Is Still a Colony: The Captain Britain Corps has at least two members from realities in which America is still a colony.
- Amplifier Artifact: Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) was originally dependent on his Amulet of Right for his strength, and his Star Scepter for flight. When Merlyn gave Brian a new costume, he integrated those items into the suit, and then when he had to bring Brian Back from the Dead, he remade Brian's body so that the powers were a part of him, but the suit still served as an amplifier, increasing his abilities while he wore it. Brian's powers were also tied to the British Isles and its link to Otherworld, so the suit also allowed him to keep his powers while away from Britain; when the suit was destroyed in Inferno (1988) and he was stranded in New York, his powers waned until he could return home. Eventually, his powers evolved again so that they were dependent on his own confidence, but whatever suit he's wearing still tends to serve as an amplifier/backup power source.
- Several of the other Captain Britain Corps' costumes have the same power-granting or power-amplifying abilities, such as Kaptain Briton's (which was reused by Betsy during her short-lived stint replacing Brian as Captain Britain) and the late Captain Marshall's (which Brian wore for a good chunk of the first Excalibur series after his prior suit was destroyed).
- Anti-Hero Substitute: By choosing Sword of Might rather than the Amulet of Right, Kelsey is proven to be more ruthless in battle than her predecessor. Brian also does this after his enslavement at the hands of Morgan le Fay, and promptly gives up the Sword to Betsy, as he can't bear the thought of what that choice makes him and emphatically does not want to be pitted against his sister.
- Back from the Dead: Merlin, Roma and their representatives are sometimes capable of reviving the various Captains, potential new recruits and others of interest.
- Brian was killed by the White Rider during the Otherworld Saga and almost immediately revived by Merlyn, although he may have been Only Mostly Dead in some ways.
- Brian was killed by the Fury on Earth-238. Merlin and Roma carefully rebuilt his body and soul from the scraps that remained.
- Kelsey was killed by Thunderball, then resurrected when she accepted the power and role of Captain Britain.
- Roma seemingly rewrote history to save Captain U.K.'s husband from the Fury, snatching him away at the last second.
- Merlin revived Brian again after he died in battle with the Skrulls during Secret Invasion.
- Badass Normal: Slaymaster has no powers, but with advanced technology and extraordinary martial arts techniques he can repeatedly challenge Captain Britain.
- Bizarre Baby Boom: James Jaspers has Reality Warping powers that in large enough bursts have a side-effect of inducing this. The children affected are called "Warpies" and their mutations are so unstable they don't live very long, often exploding very early in their lives. An X-Men issue dealt with a James Jaspers from a parallel Earth whose only apparent power was reality jumping, the fallout from which caused an entire town in Africa to have similar baby booms.
- Britain Is Only London: Averted a lot of the time, astonishingly - while London appears frequently, Brian is just as often found elsewhere in Britain, particularly with Excalibur. The lighthouse is somewhere near Liverpool on most maps, and Braddock Manor is in Essex.
- Brother–Sister Team: Brian and Betsy have fought alongside each other more than once.
- Captain Ethnic/Captain Geographic: Of Great Britain.
- Captain Patriotic: Most of the captains stand for the values of their England, although Brian is very clear that he's not Captain Britain out of any sort of patriotism. As he says, he didn't choose the job, or the name.
- Captain Superhero: It's in their title.
- Chessmaster Sidekick: The Omniversal Guardian was originally the Otherworlder master wizard and former Sorcer Supreme, Merlyn/Merlin who created the Black Knight's sword Ebony Blade and made Brian Braddock into Captain Britain and later Merlyn's Physical God daughter Roma would inherit the Omniversal Guardian position. Acting as the Guardian's lieutenant is the Omniversal Majestrix and this position has always been filled by Opal Luna Saturnyne who commands the Captain Britain Corps. Despite originally being a "mundane human" from an alternate Earth that worships Mitra, Opal got her position by her ruthlessness, cunning and organizational brilliance.
- The Chosen Many: Captain Britain is part of the multiversal Captain Britain Corps in the Excalibur (Marvel Comics) series, where each different Britain in the Marvel multiverse has one to defend the country. Most of them are different versions of Brian Braddock, but this isn't always the case. Since there's one for almost every reality, not every Captain Britain is Caucasian, male, or even good for that matter. There have been at least two Nazis in the role, since they technically represent the ideals of their Britain. Also Captain Granbretan and Captain Angleterre, who come from Britain's that had been conquered by Napoleon. More esoteric Captains Britain have included Captain Airstrip-One, Britanicus Rex, Centurion Britannus, Captain Colonies, Spider-UK, and at least two Skrulls. Oh, and Captain Wales.
- Clingy Costume: One alternate-universe version of Captain Britain named Captain Granbretan got his powers from a magical costume that allowed him to serve as a superhero for a while. The problem is, Captain Granbretan eventually wants to stop being a superhero... and the costume, which turns out to be a sentient organism, decides it isn't going to let him.
- Clothes Make the Superman:
- When Merlyn initially gave Earth-616 Brian Braddock his first Union Jack-inspired suit, the powers that were initially contained in the Amulet of Right and the Star Scepter were placed in the suit itself. After Merlyn revived Brian and endowed him with the powers directly, the suit became an Amplifier Artifact instead, channelling the energies of the interdimensional link between the British Isles and Otherworld, allowing Brian to use his power beyond those realms. Without the suit, he would lose his powers, as he discovered in the aftermath of Inferno (1988) when he was stuck in New York for a spell without it.
- This seems to be a common trait among the uniforms of the Captain Britain Corps; the costumes either grant or supplement the wearer's powers. Betsy's uniform during her short stint granted her the same abilities as Brian had in addition to her own, and the uniform of Captain Marshall of Earth-1193 had the same amplifier properties as the suit Brian lost in New York.
- This is how the Ultimate Marvel incarnation of Brian's powers have worked from the start. Along with Captain France, Captain Spain, and various other European Captain Geographics, Captain Britain is the product of an EU super-soldier program headed by his father, who designed a series of powered "exo-suits".
- Betsy, already has her own superpowers. But when she wears Captain Britain's costume, it grants her superhuman physical attributes, ability to fly, and a personal force field.
- Combo Platter Powers: Betsy Braddock, who spent most of her superhero career as Psylocke, would become the next Captain Britain in 2019. Brian, unlike her, isn't a mutant, and thus had no innate superpowers before being empowered by the Amulet of Right to become a Superman-esque Flying Brick. Betsy on the other hand, does, and she retains them fully. Add the magical Amulet on top of that, and you've essentially got someone who has two distinct power sources at once with her innate mutant abilities and her magical empowerment. For the former, she's the third most powerful telepath in the world, can create powerful forcefields, psionic weapons, read minds, control minds, and use a variety of special TK-based abilities. For the latter, she can fly at vastly superhuman speeds, benchpress over 500 tons, is practically Nigh Invulnerable to most forms of normal damage, and can manipulate a nigh-indestructible forcefield for both offence and defense.
- Create Your Own Villain: Roma did this by attempting to take back the Sword of Might after Bran Bardic (Albion) took it because the sword will lead the bearer to the path of violence and turn them into a ruthless Blood Knight. But Merlyn, Roma's father, intervenes and lets Albion keep it. Unfortunately, Albion is already offended by Roma's attempt to steal his powers, so he swore to destroy the Captain Britain Corps as revenge.
- Creator Provincialism: Not to the extent of the rest of Marvel with New York, but making the British Isles the focus of an omniversal nexus is pretty up there.
- Culture Justifies Anything: The various members of the Captain Britain Corps are meant to defend the nexus of their realms and follow the regulations of the Corps while they do it. Past that, they are supposed to uphold the cultural values of their worlds, which explains why Nazi versions are given equal standing. Considering that Merlyn, creator of the Corps, only really cared about the protection of the multiversal energy nexus and the matrix the connections formed, this isn't exactly surprising.
- Day of the Jackboot: About every other Captain Britain storyline seemed to involve an alternate version of the United Kingdom which had been taken over by Nazis.
- Deal with the Devil: Choosing the Sword of Might has a similar effect like this. The bearer will turn into a ruthless Anti-Hero at best or a Blood Knight at worse. In Kelsey's case, she also had to keep her identity secret, or else her children will die horribly.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Discussed in Excalibur regarding the Captain Britain Corps - while most of them are straight-up heroes by our standards, many of them come from worlds with very different systems of morality (Hauptmann Englande is a Nazi version of Captain Britain, Enforcer Capone is from a world where murder is legal, while Sister Gaia comes from a world where picking a flower is "an act of gross brutality"). As a result, when they are judged for crimes in their reality, they are judged by the moral standards of their specific reality.
- Doing In the Wizard: Ultimate Captain Britain was just a guy in a superpowered costume, unlike the mainstream Captain Britain, who was actually granted magical powers by Merlin.
- Enigmatic Empowering Entity: In Captain Britain, Lady Roma, the daughter of Merlyn, takes a role similar to the Lady of the Lake when she bestows the power of Captain Britain to Brian Braddock. Merlyn himself often plays the same role, empowering an evil version of Brian, called Albion, over Roma's concern for no other reason than "felt like it".
- Even Evil Has Standards: Hauptmann Englande is vile in almost every way, being a Nazi version of Brian, gleefully acting as the prosecutor in Brian's trial, but he dismisses one of the charges of murder on the grounds that Brian was avenging his sister, Betsy, who he then believed to be dead.
- Evil Counterpart: Not all of Brian's counterparts in the Captain Britain Corps are what we would consider heroic. Kaptain Briton and Hauptmann Englande are two such examples.
- Exaggerated Trope: Captain Britain exaggerates Superpower Lottery. Betsy Braddock has all of Captain Britain's abilitiesnote , plus her own innate mutant powers related to telepathy and telekinesis.
- Expendable Alternate Universe: Deconstructed as the multiple omniversal threats and beings focused around the 616 universe has given his superiors sufficient cause to treat the whole thing as a cancerous blight on everything else. They have tried to erase it.
- Fisher King:
- The exact nature and extent of Captain Britain's ties to Britain vary with the writer. In one of Chuck Austen's comics, Captain Britain was beaten up and this caused earthquakes in Britain. This never happened before or since.
- When Brian is (temporarily) killed during Secret Invasion, it's said that everyone in Britain felt it.
- Flying Brick: Captain Britain is basically this, although Only while either in Britain or in costume. More recently, though, he's lost the geographical/costume-based weaknesses, and his strength is now dependent on his self-belief, much like Gladiator. The impact is that he's now potentially stronger than ever, but the minute his self-belief fails, he becomes powerless. A bit like Britain itself, really.
- His alternate universe teenage self Kid Britain introduced in Avengers Arena has the same confidence based powers, which he fuels by being a Jerk Jock bully at the Braddock Academy. He meets his end when the triple whammy of realizing he was manipulated by his girlfriend, being insulted by the girl with whom he cheated on his girlfriend, and actually being hurt by the guy he used to bully often weakens him enough that he gets his head cut off.
- Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Both of their costumes.
- Guardian of the Multiverse: The role is taken by Merlin (until he is killed by the effects of Mad Jim Jaspers's battle with the Fury) and Roma of Otherworld. Their appearances in the "main" Marvel books are limited mostly to those written by Chris Claremont, who has never made any secret that he's a huge fan of the Alan Moore and Alan Davis run on Captain Britain that introduced them.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Most Captain Britains are actually blond-haired and heroic to varying degrees.
- Happily Married: Brian is married to his Magical Girlfriend, the shapeshifting mutant Meggan. Sadly averted with Kelsey whose marriage ended in divorce.
- Hope Bringer: Captain Britain at least to the United Kingdom.
- Inspector Javert: Detective Dai Thomas, at least in the early stories. He really doesn’t like costumed vigilantes, to the point where not only is he trying to arrest Captain Britain, but he pulls a gun on Captain America. That does not go well.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: In Captain Britain Meggan is capable of transforming in a controlled fashion, but her shapeshifting powers are also linked to her empathic powers and can cause her to transform based on how others perceive her. Early in life, the fear local villagers had of her caused her to take on a more monstrous form, resulting in them fearing her more, and so on. Her "default" elf-like form is actually based on what her long-term boyfriend finds attractive.
- Istanbul (Not Constantinople): Captain Britain, particularly under Alan Moore, has a large number of Alternate Universe counterparts to the hero, each with a different name (ie, Captain Albion, Captain England, Captain Airstrip-One, ad nauseam).
- Lady of Adventure: The writers tend to forget this, but Captain Britain and his sister Psylocke are members of a fabulously wealthy family. While Captain Britain sometimes resents his calling, Psylocke fits this to a 'T', even after her Stripperiffic ninja makeover.
- Mr. Fanservice: Brian, hence why a villainess like Sat-Yr-9 wants him. And she raped him, twice, as mentioned above.
- Mutant: In some alternate realities and/or adaptations, Brian is a mutant, just like his sister.
- No Ending: Anything involving Captain Britain. Alan Moore's departure, the cancellation of the original strip, and the final issue of Excalibur (Marvel Comics) all end with a tag saying "Never The End" instead of "The End". This may be a reference to King Arthur, who Brian was often compared to, and whose own tombstone noted that his story wasn't over yet.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: When the Red Skull invaded Britain, Captain Britain rose to the occasion... But much of the page space went to Nick Fury and Captain America, who had also followed the Skull over the Atlantic.
- Parental Abandonment: Brian's parents are dead. Kelsey herself momentarily became Missing Mom when she's apparently killed by Thunderball before becoming Captain Britain and Back from the Dead.
- Patriotic Fervor: The difference in US and UK perceptions of apparent Patriotic Fervor is the reason why Captain Britain is pretty much unheard of in his 'home' country, considered equal parts sad and hilarious when people know he exists. Though this is likely due to the fact that his design (a strapping great big muscular guy emblazoned with the Union Flag) caters far more to the American tastes of what constitutes a hero. Brits far prefer their heroes a little more Byronic, cynical and witty — which is why home-grown James Bond and Sherlock Holmes have always been so well received and are the UK's counterpart of patriotic characters.
- Reality Warper: Mad Jim Jaspers and Jamie Braddock.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: When the sentient computer beneath Braddock Manor, Mastermind, takes the form of Jeeves the butler, his eyes sometimes glow red menacingly. Subverted in that he actually does have the best interests of the Braddocks at heart, and even comes to have feelings for the maid, Emma.
- Red Shirt Army: Their fellow corpsmen often end up as cannon fodder whenever they get involved.
- Sacrificial Planet: The famed Alan Moore and Alan Davis run of Captain Britain introduced the vastly powerful Reality Warper James Jaspers by having a weaker alternate counterpart so damage his home reality that it had to be destroyed to contain the threat. However, the character who makes this claim is an Unreliable Expositor at best and has ulterior motives for ordering the parallel reality's destruction.
- Superior Successor: For as powerful as Brian is, Betsy is even more, because she's a mutant who maintains her (very potent) abilities on top of gaining the vast powers of Captain Britain.
- Supernatural Aid: This is how Captain Britain of Marvel Comics got his start, with a little help from Merlin. And then subsequently more help, since he's one of those heroes who can't seem to stop dying.
- Superpower Lottery:
- Captain Britain can bench-press over 500 tons, fly at supersonic speeds, No-Sell devastating attacks with his nigh-invulnerability, and manipulate an even stronger forcefield both offensively and defensively. At full power, Captain Britain even pushed back the Phoenix itself (something even Thor hasn't managed).
- Exaggerated with Betsy, considering that she has all of Captain Britain's abilities, plus her own innate mutant powers related to telepathy and telekinesis. Think something like a psionic Superman, and you're not far off.
- Sword/Shield Contrast: When someone is appointed Captain Britain, they're given the choice of the Sword of Might or the Amulet of Right (the "shield" in this instance) to empower them. The original Captain, Brian Braddock, considered himself a scholar, not a warrior, and so chose the Amulet. The second one, Kelsey Leigh, felt an amulet wasn't good for protecting anyone and went with the Sword, and she went on to be more of an Anti-Hero than Brian was.
- Tamer and Chaster: Betsy's Captain Britain outfit is this as her entire costume is armour and usual spandex.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- The Fury, already an almost invincible killing machine, becomes even more dangerous when it incorporates the supercomputer beneath Braddock Manor.
- Kelsey was mostly Unskilled, but Strong when she got her powers, which is understandable since she was never a fighter before. She's a better fighter after Albion trained her.
- Twin Desynch: Perhaps the most drastic twin desynch in comics goes to Brian and Betsy Braddock, aka Captain Britain and Psylocke. In the original Captain Britain series, they were Half-Identical Twins with matching blonde hair, until Betsy dyed her hair purple and stuck with it. Then she joined the X-Men as Psylocke and came to be better known through her association with them than with Captain Britain, and that was before she became stuck with an Asian body for 30 years real-time. Nowadays, she has her original European appearance back, but her hair is still purple and she has long since surpassed her brother in popularity, to the point that he's now more known through his association with her and X-Men spin-off teams than as a standalone superhero.
- Twin Telepathy: Brian and Psylocke share a special bond through the latter's telepathy. They are twins.
- Two Roads Before You: Every Captain Britain must choose between the Amulet of Right and the Sword of Might. This decision has a substantial impact on their powers. Originally, the Sword of Might was meant to be the wrong choice. Anyone picking it got rejected immediately, until Merlyn decided otherwise.
- In Brian Braddock's Origin Story, he had gotten into a motorcycle crash and was dying, when Merlin and his daughter Romana approached and offered him a choice between two artefacts that could save him. The Amulet of Right, represents wisdom and life, and the Sword of Might, represents power and violence. Either would have given him superpowers and made him Captain Britain, but the Sword would have given him different powers. Considering himself more a scholar than a warrior, he chose the Amulet.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Captain Britain. Sure his outfit hasn't always been a perfect Union Jack design, but it's meant to invoke the image. In the Captain Britain and MI13 series, after dying, the good Captain is resurrected by Merlin - who pulls his body together out of British flags, in order that he be one symbol representing many, like the flag itself. His sister, Psylocke, also wears a similar outfit during her brief time as Captain Britain. The entire Captain Britain Corps is themed around this.
- Wonder Woman Wannabe: Psylocke in Excalibur (2019), after taking the mantle of Captain Britain she changes costume from her ninja leotard to an armoured getup which like Wonder Woman has a segmented skirt with a crotch flap and instead of Psionic Sai Betsy wields the starlight sword and a Psionic Shield as well making her very similar to Wonder Woman.
- Unexplained Recovery: The Ultimate Marvel universe version of Brian was supposedly killed in an explosion during Ultimatum, and was even listed in the "In Memorium" section at the end of the series. He showed up in a later issue of The Ultimates with no mention of his "death", though he was now shown to be dying of cancer caused by his supersuit.