Ok, true believers, we’re only 45 days away from Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. Following the success of DC’s Wonder Woman, the first female-led film from Marvel Studios is expected to be another box office success. But, the jumpsuit wearing, pilot, with the fiery eyes wasn’t born into the world fully formed. When she first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes, Carol Danvers was a Captain in the United States Air Force, a high position for a woman in the 1960s. But, Danvers only got her powers through a shared accident with the original Captain Marvel. Since then, she’s evolved from Ms. Marvel, the helpful sidekick, to Binary, a white-hole wielding X-Men, to Ms. Marvel the superhero glue holding event comics together, until finally, she took on her current form as Captain Marvel in 2012.
The Women’s Champ:
In 2019, there’s still something unbelievable about seeing a woman lead a superhero film. There’s a vast pantheon of women identifying supers. When they show up in films, women heroes frequently get reduced to the sexy side-kick. For examples of this see Iron Man 2, Daredevil (2003), and Batman Forever. Gail Gadot’s turn as Wonder Woman changed the tide. Having made 1.3 million its opening weekend and inspiring girls all over the world to wear a tiara and strike their best superhero pose, the gates are now open for all kinds of female-centered super stories.
Part of the preemptive excitement of Wonder Woman was the knowledge that Patty Jenkins would be crafting the story. Anna Bowden will be the first woman to get a directing credit on a Marvel film. Bowden shares directing credit with her longtime directing partner, Ryan Fleck. Together the pair directed the 2010 adaptation of It’s Kind of a Funny Story. They also wrote the scripts for Full Nelson and Captain Marvel. They’ve decided to base their Carol on Kelly Sue DeConnick’s 2012 revamp of the character.
The original Captain Marvel was a Kree alien. The Kree are a race of humanoid looking aliens. Mar-Vell is sent to Earth to study humans space exploration race. Unfortunately, the Kree have been at war with the Skrull for thousands of years. When the Skrull first encountered the Kree, they were a barbaric people. The Scrull community wanted to help. They gave the Kree the gift of technology and time. A competition was set up between the Kree and a neighboring race. When the Kree felt they were losing, they decided to kill the competition. When the judges expressed their displeasure at how the Kree won, the Kree killed them too. A war broke out and soon Earth was caught in the middle. From there, it was up to Carol and the Avengers to protect the Earth from an interstellar war. While working with the original Mar-Vell, an explosion fuses a portion of his Kree DNA with Danvers’ human DNA, giving her superhuman powers.
Despite originally earning her powers through a man’s DNA, Danvers has always been a celebration of women’s empowerment. In her original title, Ms. Marvel was a tip of the hat to the women’s liberation movement, which sought a title for unmarried women that held the same respect as Mr. and Mrs. Denied a college education by her father, Carol joined the air force to prove she could make it in the world on her own. In an interview with Polygon, DeConnick spoke about what drives Carol Danvers. Elaborating she stated, “It’s two things: It’s running from this pain and then also trying to prove to her now dead father that she was just as good as the boys. This is a wound that’s never going to heal; dad’s dead, you know? She’s never going to get that moment of satisfaction of ‘You’re right, kiddo. You’re amazing.’ And so there’s that thing that she is forever chasing.” In early comic books, Carol fought for equal pay for equal work.
Her ride hasn’t always been inspiring. Despite being named after her publishing company, Captain Marvel hasn’t always been a priority. She spent a lot of time bouncing back and forth between teams. Worst, in the 1980s, a man raped Carol. He then impregnates her with a version of himself. (Comics are weird guys.) The Avengers shrug it off. A year later, this storyline was rewritten. Carol got to call out the Avengers for their sexist behavior. The latest iteration of Carol Danvers showcases a messy woman, Carol’s had a drinking problem, with powerful leadership skills, and a vision for the future. Created by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy, this updated version of Danvers was more functional. Soy and Deconnick said so long to skimpy, skin-tight outfits, and gave Danvers a uniform worthy of her position in the Air Force. DeConnick turned the pain and turmoil Danvers faced for decades into a core strength that made her the leader she is today.
Where to Begin:
If you haven’t been keeping up with the decade of films Marvel has produced, you may not know where to begin. Breath easy. You can enjoy watching kick-ass female fighter pilots, sexy space aliens, and a young, confusingly hot, Samuel L. Jackson without having to watch all twenty films. One of the few superheroes in the Marvel canon that has been featured in every team’s book, Danvers has been an X-Men, an Avenger, a Guardian of the Galaxy, a member of the all-women team of the A-Force, and a member of SHIELD.
Though her film will act as an origin story for both herself and Nick Fury, the future implications are incredibly exciting. Taking place in 1995, three years after the end of the cold war and the formation of Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Directorate, Fury will be a low-level pencil pusher on his way to becoming Director of SHIELD. Watch all three Captain America films to get caught up on this storyline. All three Avengers films will also be helpful in filling out the timeline and learning the importance of SHIELD.
Learning what changes the filmmakers have decided to make when adapting the comics art is part of the joy of being a Marvel fan. While no one can say for sure who’s side Carol will be fighting on, or in what ways this story will connect to the larger events of Civil War: End Game, fans have not stopped speculating what might happen. One fan theory circulating the web has to do with Nic’s famous eye patch. In Captain America: Civil War, Nick Fury tells Steve “Captain America” Rogers, “The last time I trusted someone I lost an eye.” In the Captain Marvel trailer, a younger Nick Fury can be seen without the eyepatch. Perhaps a Skrull, disguised as Carol damages Fury’s eye. Maybe Carol’s trademark recklessness cause Nic to injure himself. We’ll have to wait to find out.
Captain Marvel hits theaters on Thursday, March 7. Tickets are currently available for pre-sale.