2019 is going to be a big year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only will we get the follow-up to 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, but we'll see the first ever female fronted solo film of the #MCU (no, Ant-Man & the Wasp doesn't count).
In 2019 we'll see Brie Larson debut as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel, one of the current heavyweights of #Marvel Comics. Carol Danvers has a pretty complex history in the comics, she's been Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, Captain Marvel, and has had some pretty big retcons to her origin.
But did you know about Mar-Vell, and how Captain Marvel intersects with DC Comics? Clear your schedules, 'cause it's #trivia time.
The Birth Of Captain Marvel
In the back annals of Marvel Comics history, there've been seven different Captain Marvels (not counting all the alternate universe versions, because we only have so much time). #CarolDanvers has existed since the late 1960s in the comics, but didn't actually become Captain Marvel until 2012, only five years ago. Though she was known by Ms. Marvel for more than 35 years, Carol has also gone by the names Warbird and Binary.
Carol first appeared only a year after Mar-Vell — Kree soldier and the original Captain Marvel — did. Prior to 1967, the name "Captain Marvel" was trademarked by Fawcett Comics, who had published comics featuring a Captain Marvel — the one you may know now as DC's Shazam — since the 1940s. However, they were sued by #DCComics in the early 1950s, a copyright infringement case as DC claimed that Fawcett's Captain Marvel was a rip-off of Superman.
Fawcett ceased publishing all their superhero comics for a few years over this case, and once the trademark had run out, Marvel Comics jumped in to create their own Captain Marvel — Mar-Vell. With the trademark secured, they didn't actually start publishing until DC got chatty about bringing back the Fawcett Comics' version of Captain Marvel, which they had licensed by that point. DC eventually did so, but due to Marvel's trademark they had to publish under the title Shazam! instead.
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What Happened To Mar-Vell?
So that's why both Marvel and DC have characters called Captain Marvel, in case you were wondering. It's also why there have been so many different versions of Marvel's Captain Marvel. As Marvel had trademarked — but not copyrighted — the name, they had to keep publishing titles under that trademark every couple of years to prevent it from lapsing. If they failed to do so, DC could jump in and begin publishing under the Captain Marvel title, and Marvel could not.
So why not keep publishing the stories of Mar-Vell as Captain Marvel? Because of lack of sales. Mar-Vell's solo title was published through to the late '70s, but he wasn't very popular. So Marvel had to keep putting out the title to retain the rights, but they weren't turning much of a profit on it.
But then, in the early '80s, Jim Starlin killed off Mar-Vell following the character's struggle with cancer. The sensitively written The Death of Captain Marvel proved to be very, very popular, and reignited fan interest. Marvel couldn't backtrack on bringing him back so soon though, as this would've undone the love fans had for this particular novel, but they had to keep putting out a character under that title to keep the trademark.
And Then There Were...
Following the "death" of Mar-Vell we had Monica Rambeau, the first and only Captain Marvel who was both female and black. Monica held that title and operated as a sometimes Avenger for over a decade. But Marvel wasn't too keen on giving her her own title, (probably because she was black and female) and after a couple of one-shot stories Monica passed the mantle on to Mar-Vell’s son, Genis-Vell, who lasted for a short mini-series in the '90s.
From there the name was given to Phyla-Vell, Genis’ sister, though she quickly rejected it, becoming Quasar instead. This takes us up to the mid 2000s, when Marvel needed to churn out another Captain Marvel to keep the trademark. This was around the time of the major crossover event Secret Invasion, which teased the return of the original Mar-Vell as Captain Marvel.
The returned Mar-Vell turned out to be one of the shape-shifting Skrulls though, a delusional character who believed that he was in fact the real Captain Marvel. Skrull Mar-Vell was killed off quickly after the reveal, and then the name went to the Kree Noh-Varr. Noh-Varr didn't last long either; after a weird run in which he ended up joining the Dark Avengers as Captain Marvel, he lost the title and become Protector instead.
From Ms. To Captain
And this brings us to Carol Danvers, who has become possibly the most popular version of the character, despite only having held the title for five years. She was an obvious choice to become the new Captain, due to her history with the Avengers, her name, and her origin with Mar-Vell, which made her half Kree.
She also had the added bonus of being an A-list character, unlike the others who have gone through the wringer over the years. And her mohawk isn't half bad either. It's a big positive for the title too, as it seems Marvel has finally found itself a Captain Marvel with staying power.
Such is her popularity that Carol will be the one behind the wheel when Captain Marvel is finally released a couple of years from now. There will be changes to her character as we know — her origin for one is being altered due to the supposed similarly to the one we saw in the awful Green Lantern movie of 2011 — but Carol Danvers is taking to the stage not as Ms. Marvel, but as the Captain herself. And that's a pretty sweet deal.
Who is your favorite Captain Marvel? Tell us in the comments below!