In 2019, one of the most important characters in Marvel Comics will finally be making her way to the big screen. After years of fan demand, Carol Danvers will finally be brought to life by Brie Larson in Captain Marvel: a 1990s-set adventure that will establish the origin story of the titular heroine. What the movie won't fully cover, however, is her decades-long legacy on the page... which is what we're here to discuss today.
Going back to Carol Danvers' origins in Marvel Comics in the late 1960s, we've broken down all of the key points that you need to know about her before her solo film arrives next year. Who is she? What can she do? How will she measure up to established Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes? Read on to find out!
Created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, Carol Danvers' introduction in Marvel Comics was a part of a Captain Marvel adventure, though this was long before she took on the moniker. Instead, this was the superhero identity of Mar-Vell, a member of the alien species the Kree who was originally sent to Earth to spy on humanity. He was introduced in Marvel Super-Heroes #12, and Carol appeared in his second issue, Marvel Super-Heroes #13.
In an attempt to blend in with humanity, Mar-Vell took on the identity of a deceased scientist named Walter Lawson, who worked at the Air Force station at Cape Canaveral. He meets Carol Danvers because she is stationed as the Security Chief there, guarding a top secret project that just so happens to be a destructive Kree automaton called the Sentry. Continuing as a representative for the Air Force, she appeared again when Captain Marvel got his own comic, which led to a major change in her life.
In 1969's Captain Marvel #18, Mar-Vell has a major confrontation with his nemesis and Kree superior, Colonel Yon-Rogg, and the battle wound up having what would wind up being some significant consequences in the Marvel Universe. Carol Danvers winds up being hit by a blast of radiation from an exploding Kree device, and while she's initially injured, the walks away from the incident in the end with some incredible abilities.
Nearly a decade after this event happened, Carol Danvers returned to Marvel Comics and was written to have incredible strength, speed, stamina, and durability (she falls to Earth from space in an early adventure and suffers virtually zero damage). She can also fly, but while that was initially said to be a part of the mechanics in her costume, a second exposure to Kree radiation made it a permanent gift. She has what is initially called a "Seventh Sense" (a precognition of upcoming terrible events), and later it was introduced that she can manipulate energy (both absorbing it and projecting it through her finger tips). And let's not forget she's a trained Air Force officer/pilot on top of everything else.
In Carol Danvers getting her powers, the radiation was a catalyst, but it was really because of Mar-Vell that she changed the way that she did. Because of her proximity to him during the aforementioned explosion, their genetic structures wound up melding. This means that Carol Danvers is not just a human with Kree abilities, but a full-blown human/Kree hybrid.
Because of her DNA, Captain Marvel not only has a connection to the Kree as a species, but also the Kree homeworld. Because of this and her origins, her adventures have regularly taken her into outer space for battles in the cosmos -- and the assumption at large is that this is where she has been in the time since Tony Stark first announced that he was Iron Man and ushered in the Age of Heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As mentioned, it took nearly a decade for Carol Danvers to return to the pages of Marvel Comics following her accident, but when she did it happened in a major way. In 1977 the publisher launched a Ms. Marvel series, which saw Danvers as the protagonist working as the head editor for a woman's magazine run by J. Jonah Jameson. Of course, she is also moonlighting as the titular superhero, but she doesn't actually know it because the Ms. Marvel identity manifests as separate from her own. The comic further evolved as different writers took over the book, including the great Chris Claremont, but all-told she held the moniker for decades (more on that in a bit).
While Carol Danvers was not the first female character to get her own Marvel Comic, her solo series did arrive at a very important time -- specifically during the Feminist Movement. The mere fact that she was called Ms. Marvel was a statement being made by the company, and she was actually advertised as the first feminist hero.
Like any Marvel hero who has been around for a few decades, Carol Danvers has gone by a few different names. For example, during an adventure with the X-Men in the 1980s, she was captured by the alien race the Brood, and they performed experiments on her. As a result of this she began going by the name Binary, because she was able to generate the power of a star.
Binary's new powers came about because of Carol's ability to draw power from a white hole, but in the 1990s she lost that connection (she continued to possess her original powers, plus gained the power to manipulate energy). She took on the name Warbird as she rejoined the Avengers, but struggled with alcoholism while depressed from the loss of her powers. She eventually went back to being called Ms. Marvel, but it was a rather temporary change.
Carol Danvers technically first got the name Captain Marvel during the House of M storyline, where the name was passed down to her by Mar-Vell as she established herself as the most popular superhero on Earth, but it was really in 2012 that she fully adopted the mantle. This move was part of a brand new Captain Marvel series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Dexter Soy, and she has gone by the name ever since.
At this point it's unclear how the Captain Marvel movie will address the name change, but at the same time it doesn't really need to. Carol Danvers might not be a captain in the Air Force, but Steve Rogers wasn't a captain in the army when he became Captain America. With Jude Law playing Mar-Vell in the film, it's possible that he could hand the title off to her.
During her years on the page, Carol Danvers has been a part of many different organizations -- including S.H.I.E.L.D., A-Force, and even the X-Men -- but in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, really only two of them matter currently: the Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. She has been a card-carrying member of both groups at different times, helping to save lives both on Earth and in the cosmos -- and that's important to recognize when contemplating her potential big screen future.
Carol Danvers has certainly had plenty of Earthbound adventures as both Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel, but her Kree genetics have also seen her fly out into space to take part in intergalactic conflicts. It's very possible that we could wind up seeing her in both capacities in the years to come, particularly because of James Gunn's comments regarding the development of Marvel Cosmic in Phase Four. In this way she's a very narratively flexible character, and that just makes her more exciting.
Marvel fans have spent years arguing about the most powerful hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it generally comes down to a debate between the Hulk and Thor. That's a conversation that fans could have for hours (and wasn't fully answered in Thor: Ragnarok), but those sick of the argument will soon see it go away. Why? Because Captain Marvel will apparently be able kick the asses of both the giant green rage monster and the God of Thunder when she is at full strength.
Back in late 2016, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige specifically referred to Carol Danvers as "the most powerful character [they've] ever introduced," and even went as far as to say that it made her a challenge to adapt. It's hard to know if we'll get to see this fully-powered Carol in Captain Marvel, but considering that Avengers 4 will be set approximately 30 years later, we can assume that she'll be more than ready to kick some Thanos ass when the time is right.