Hi there. I have seen people saying that Levi's position in the SC was created by Erwin for Levi. Is it true? I have only seen official material saying something along the line Erwin is the reason why Levi has the motivation to become a captain. I might be wrong about these info though. Please correct me if I am :D
Hey Anon, this is a really interesting ask and one that’s got me thinking about the boundary between what is implicit and explicit in canon and how fandom fills in the blanks. I’ve had to consult with @momtaku to unravel what exactly is said in canon and to double check my facts and figures, particularly regarding the dates, which I’m hopeless with.
So, as far as we can work out, here’s what we know from canon…
Levi joins the Survey Corps, under the command of Keith Shadis, in 844, presumably with the rank of solider. Six years later, in 850, the Battle of Trost takes place and by this time Levi is captain and the Survey Corps is under Erwin’s command.
Captain Levi’s first appearance in chapter 9.5 (Sorry Levi I can’t stop laughing at your little kitty face. Bless.)
The manga and supporting material don’t actually make it explicit when Levi became captain or who appointed him to this rank. However Shadis stepped down as commander in 845 after the fall of Wall Maria and it seems unlikely that he would have promoted Levi to captain during his first year in the Corps, particularly given that Levi had by-passed the usual route to joining the military and was still basically regarded as a thug. This means that Levi must have been promoted by Erwin, though we don’t know exactly when.
It’s also clear that captain is not a formal rank in the Survey Corps. @momtaku pointed out that while the Garrison has captains, none of the supplementary canon information about the structure of the military lists captain amongst the Survey Corps’ ranks. So it appears that Levi is the one and only captain of the Survey Corps and if it was Erwin who made him captain then it must also follow that Erwin created the rank specifically for him.
It’s worth noting that we don’t see any of the other Veterans being appointed to their ranks either, but they are Squad Leaders rather than captains, which is a formal Survey Corps rank.
The Special Operations Squad that Levi leads is also not part of the normal structure of the Survey Corps, so again, Levi’s first squad, which had explicit orders to protect Eren, was presumably created on Erwin’s command. Levi created his second Squad on his own initiative while Erwin was recovering from loosing his arm.
So there you have it Anon, although a lot of this isn’t made explicit in canon, if you piece the dates and events together it’s clear that it was indeed Erwin who made Levi captain and furthermore that he created this role specifically for him.
And it’s because so much of this is implicit that this period of Levi’s life has proved to be such fertile grounds for fic writers. There are so many amazing fics set between ACWNR and canon that explore Levi’s acceptance into the Survey Corps and the development of his relationship to Erwin. For many writers Levi’s promotion to captain is a pivotal point in his story because it is an outward sign of Erwin’s trust and faith in him and it also marks the point at which Levi really becomes Survey Corps. There are too many amazing fics to list them all but some of my favourites that explore this period are Black Dog by @stereobone, The Laws of Survival by pasiphile, and Audacity by shoi. And if you want a completely different take on how Levi joined the Survey Corps, there’s Gilded by Night by revai-lution.
Thank you for your fascinating ask Anon and sorry that this turned into a bit of a ramble, I have a lot of feeeels about this.
Thanks again to @momtaku for her infinite knowledge of all things canon.