Comic-Con 2016: Rihanna Is an Alien, Lupita Might Be a Traitor, and Other “Superpowers” Revealed

Get to know your favorite leading ladies’ new roles in the Marvel universe and beyond, as revealed at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Marvel came to Comic-Con 2016 equipped with a fresh logo and new superheroes, and they weren’t the only ones. Here are the latest extraterrestrial, supernatural, or just plain powerful roles you can look for Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Gillian Anderson to step into, here.

Brie Larson

Brie Larson in [“Best Performances,”]( photographed by Peter Lindbergh, styled by Edward Enninful; W magazine February 2016.

“Just call me Captain Marvel,” Oscar-winner Larson captioned an Instagram just moments before her (long-rumored) announcement as the star of the new Captain Marvel — Marvel Studios’ first movie featuring a woman in the title role. The character, an alias for Carol Danvers, was promoted from Ms. Marvel in the mid-’60s to Captain Marvel with the resurgence of the comics in 2012. Danvers, in addition to her more mundane (at least as far as the Marvel universe goes) super-spy abilities, is endowed with super strength and stamina. Oh, right — and she can fly.


[Zendaya Coleman]( photographed by Willy Vanderperre, styled by Paul Cavaco; W magazine April 2016.

“My character is super dry and awkward,” actress and singer Zendaya Coleman told MTV after the Spider-Man: Homecoming presentation at Comic-Con (yep, the re-re-re-reboot). She’s a high school peer of the new Spidey, played by Tom Holland, her name is Michelle — and that’s just about all we know. It’s not a superpower, but it’s something.


Rihanna in [“Bad Gal Rihanna,”]( photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, styled by Edward Enninful; W magazine September 2014.

Photographs by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, styled by Edward Enninful; W Magazine September 2014.

The singer made her entrance into science fiction with a Star Trek: Beyond theme song and a capsule collection of Star Trek-themed Dior sunglasses, but if Comic-Con rumors are to be believed, she’s really going all-in for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. She was announced as part of the cast of Luc Besson’s upcoming movie late last year, but her character has been kept pretty well under wraps — until now. It turns out, Rihanna plays — or was at least introduced as — an alien stripper in the red light district of some distant planet. Besson assured the world at Comic-Con over the weekend that the role is “weird” and “complicated.” If “alien stripper” isn’t a complicated kind of superpower, we’re not sure what is.

Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyong’o in [“The Free and the Brave,”]( photographed by Lorna Simpson, styled by Felicia Garcia-Rivera; W magazine December/January 2014.

Lupita Nyong’o had been in talks to join the Black Panther cast since May, but her character was locked down with a bit more certainty at Comic-Con this weekend. The film, slated for a 2018 release, finds the titular Black Panther, played by Chadwick Boseman, up against a baddie named Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. (With a character name like that, there are few options but baddie.) And Nyong’o plays Nakia, a member of the Wakandan special forces group Dora Milaje — an ally of the Panther, she said. Maybe. In the original comic, Nakia turns on the Black Panther — and this film is supposed to have two villains.

Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira in [“Generation W,”]( photographed by Craig McDean, styled by Felicia Garcia-Rivera; W magazine October 2013.

The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira was also revealed as part of the Black Panther cast at the panel Saturday. Where Nyong’o is a member of the Dora Milaje, Gurira plays Okoye, the leader of them all. Wakanda is the source of vibranium — the metal that forms Captain America’s shield, Hawkeye’s arrowheads, and Wolverine’s claws — and its vibranium mines make it one of the most economically stable and technologically advanced nations in Marvel’s version of Earth. So, as the head of the nation’s special forces, Gurira’s character Okoye is basically unstoppable.

Gillian Anderson

[Gillian Anderson]( photographed by Pari Dukovic, styled by Patrick Mackie; W magazine July 2015.

The X-Files vet reunites with Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller for a television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Playing out in a universe in which gods exist simply because humans believe in them, the series (and the novel that inspired it) depicts a brewing storm between the old gods and the new ones. As Media, Anderson is something of a spokeswoman for the new gods, communicating with mere mortals by taking the shape of various celebrities. As we well know, humans worship celebrities. And, as a teaser revealed at Comic-Con shows, that includes none other than Marilyn Monroe.