With Carol Danvers poised to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about the character ahead of her debut.
As can often be the case with Marvel, sorting through an established character’s history — especially one that has been around for over 50 years — is a messy process, filled with multiple backstories and timelines.
So, we’re going to simplify things down for those of you who may be new to the character, by taking it back to the basics, and telling you what you’ll need to know from Carol Danvers’ storied comic book history ahead of seeing Captain Marvel in theaters.
Or, if you want to cram in a couple of Captain Marvel comic book runs, we’ve also got you covered for that, too.
Who is Captain Marvel — a.k.a. Carol Danvers?
Let’s start with the basics that anyone joining the #CarolCorps will need to know.
Carol Danvers was first introduced to the Marvel Comics in 1968’s Marvel Super Heroes #13. At the time, Carol did not hold the mantle of Captain Marvel — that, instead, belonged to her ally, Mar-Vell, a Kree spy sent to Earth to determine whether or not it was a threat to the Empire. Mar-Vell was, ultimately, found a traitor to the Kree after being discovered protecting Earth, though he managed to escape his death sentence.
Carol originally met Mar-Vell’s human alias, Dr. Walter Lawson, while she was the Security Chief of a restricted military base. It was later, in Captain Marvel #18, that Carol first gained her powers. Caught in an explosion of a Kree device, called the “Psyche-Magnetron,” Carol’s DNA was spliced with some of Mar-Vell’s, and she ended up with several of his abilities, including strength and durability. Though, it wasn’t until 1977 that Carol adopted her own superhero moniker — Ms. Marvel — and spun off into a solo comic series.
While operating as Ms. Marvel, Carol had several adventures, notably alongside the Avengers — she became their second, official female member, after The Wasp — and the X-Men. Those adventures weren’t always Earth-bound, as her powers were particularly suited to space, and so her stories take place all across the Marvel universe.
(There was also, for a while, a divide between her Carol Danvers and Ms. Marvel identities, with neither recalling the other while she was inhabiting each version of herself. While that doesn’t look like it will play into the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of the character, memory loss of her previous life will.
But it was in 2012 that Carol received her biggest promotion yet: her title of Captain Marvel. Under the hands of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Carol became the iconic hero upon which the Captain Marvel movie was based. Carol got a new identity, new costume, and became central to the Marvel comics continuity — she became the head of Alpha Flight, worked with Black Panther on the Ultimates, and even joined the all-women A-Force for a while.
There is little to no doubt that, considering her vital importance as a character in the Marvel comics, that she will be equally so when Captain Marvel hits the big screen and audiences discover what role she might have when Avengers: Endgame follows.
Captain Marvel’s Powers
Where should we begin with Captain Marvel’s powers?
Following the explosion that altered Carol’s genetic make-up, she inherited Mar-Vell’s entire power set. Those powers included superhuman strength, endurance, stamina, physical durability, her own “Spidey” sense for danger, and a resistance to poisons and toxins (thanks to her new Kree “blood”).
Later, when Carol joined the X-Men, she adopted the name “Binary,” and with it, gained several new powers — some of which she has retained to this day, and appears to be in possession of in the movie. Those powers were the result of experimentation on her by the Brood, which linked Carol to a “white hole.” While connected to the white hole, Carol had control over heat, electromagnetism, gravity, could travel faster than light, and survive in a vacuum — all things that could prove useful for reversing Thanos’ Decimation in Endgame and taking him down.
Though Carol ultimately lost her link with the white hole, she did retain most of her Binary powers, just on a smaller scale. As Captain Marvel, Carol still possesses superhuman strength, and all the trappings that comes with it, plus the ability to blast and absorb stellar energy, fly, and remains resistant to a lack of atmosphere. Plus, with enough exposure to the right energy, she can “power up” to her former Binary abilities.
Thanos better watch out if the MCU’s Captain Marvel has even a fraction of those powers.
Captain Marvel’s Allies and Enemies
Over her 50-year tenure in Marvel comics, Captain Marvel has gained many powerful allies, but just as many enemies. The most relevant allies to newer fans heading into Captain Marvel are Mar-Vell, the Avengers — and Carol has seen that group through its many iterations, splinterings, disassembling, reassembling, and everything in between — the X-Men, and Guardians of the Galaxy. (Carol is also a close friend of Jessica Jones, and in the latter’s Alias series, acts as a confidant to her. Imagine what that friendship could be like, if the two ever meet in the MCU!)
Some of Captain Marvel’s enemies, however, are extremely dangerous and formidable. Among them are the Supreme Intelligence, leader of the Kree, and someone who has a huge amount of influence over Carol’s life — not least by making it incredibly difficult. It is likely that the Supreme Intelligence will surface as one form or another in Captain Marvel, so they’re certainly someone to keep an eye out for.
Yon-Rogg, meanwhile, is responsible for the deadly explosion that ultimately granted Carol her powers. Played by Jude Law in the Captain Marvel movie, he is a Kree military commander, and is violent and very, very dangerous. He utilizes his position to use the Kree government and systems to eliminate any and all of his rivals, while still remaining a hugely important figure in their society.
Ben Mendelsohn’s Skrull leader, Talos, on the other hand, has never taken on Carol Danvers in the comics, or appeared in the Captain Marvel comics. Instead, Talos came up against the Hulk, begging for death in a battle against him, to regain his honor after becoming a disgrace during the Kree-Skrull war. It will be interesting, in that instance, to see how they utilize his character and to see how he fares in a face-off against Carol.