Excitement is mounting for Captain Marvel, and it looks like we'll soon find out who'll be cast in the role of Carol Danvers. Although the character's a major figure in comics, a lot of fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will find her backstory dizzyingly confusing. So here are five facts you need to know.
1. Carol Danvers Was Introduced Almost a Decade Before She Gained Her Superpowers
Unlike most superheroes, the character made her debut as Carol Danvers, a military figure associated with the alien superhero Captain Marvel. Since 1967, Carol's been a major part of the MCU, and even without her powers, she has had team-ups with Captain America, Wolverine and Nick Fury. In fact, in the modern Ultimate Universe, Marvel didn't even see the need to give her superpowers.
Carol's military background has always given her a fascinating slant, and writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has had great fun tapping into her US Air Force background. Carol's love of flying naturally translates into flight being the superpower she most values, and imbues Captain Marvel comics with a real sense of joy and energy. Meanwhile, Carol's recently been involved in an on-again/off-again romance with James "War Machine" Rhodes, although the events of the current "Civil War II" story arc suggest it may be taking a tragic twist.
2. Captain Marvel is Essentially a Human-Kree Hybrid
While working alongside original Kree superhero Captain Marvel, Carol was exposed to alien energies when a Psyche-Magnetron exploded. This bonded her DNA with that of Captain Marvel's, and she gained tremendous powers — flight, energy manipulation, superhuman strength and resistance to injury. The full list of her powers is pretty awe-inspiring, so check out this post by fellow Creator Michael Patterson for more info.
So Carol is essentially a human-Kree hybrid (which has caused major problems in the current series of Captain Marvel, as enemies of the Kree view her as a threat due to her genetic structure). The original Captain Marvel died and Carol eventually took on his code name as a statement of honor and respect toward him.
3. Captain Marvel Has Always Been One of the Most Socially Progressive Superhero Characters
When Carol first took up her superhero mantle, it was as Ms. Marvel. Nowadays, that sounds old fashioned, but at the time the use of the title "Ms." was a very deliberate political statement. As Marvel explains it:
The honorific, invented to provide a way to address women without referring to their marital status, became synonymous with the feminist movement when political activist Gloria Steinem used the term in 1971 for the title of her progressive magazine.
What's more, early plots even included Carol championing a move for equal pay for women.
Carol's star has not always shone brightly, though. Her initial costume design — in part forced upon her creators by editorial whimsy — was pretty damn sexualized. Worse still, the character wound up as part of one of the most wrong-headed pseudo-rape plots in the history of comics. This storyline literally involved a cosmic entity impregnating her so it could become a human being, grow to adulthood at a mystical speed, and influence her mind to make her fall in love with it. Yikes. That plot was savagely attacked by Chris Claremont in the legendary Avengers Annual Issue 10 (coincidentally that issue also introduced the X-Men character Rogue), and justifiably so.
DeConnick took over the helm in 2012 and had Carol change her code name to Captain Marvel. This coincided with a radical overhaul of her costume, with the superhero adopting a look that's already proved iconic. Check out the design below.
4. Captain Marvel is Also Known As Binary, One of Marvel's Cosmic Superheroes
Captain Marvel has always been associated with some of Marvel's cooler space adventures — including several outings with various X-Men. Dearly loved by writer Chris Claremont, Carol often found herself a guest star in his legendary Uncanny X-Men run. During one mission, she was captured by an alien race known as the Brood, who used her for experiments. As a result, her energy-manipulation powers were briefly off the charts. Carol's whole look was transformed and she took up the code name Binary, becoming a staple character in Marvel's cosmic adventures for several years.
5. Captain Marvel is Marvel's Premier Heroine
Comics may not always have the best reputation when it comes to female character depictions, but since the early 2000s Marvel has been making a dedicated effort to increase Carol's presence. The 2006–2007 Civil War event divided the Avengers into two teams and, in a surprising move, Carol was given leadership of one of these teams. This naturally placed her in a major role by the time of Secret Invasion, and into the Dark Reign era of comics. By 2010, writer Andy Serwin was describing Carol to Wizard magazine as "The House of Ideas premier heroine."
That situation hasn't changed. The Captain Marvel ongoings are a hit, and the character has become leader of S.W.O.R.D. — an intergovernmental organization dedicated to protecting the world from alien threats. As part of that, she's a lead figure in Al Ewing's excellent series The Ultimates, where she's part of a team dealing with some of the most cosmic issues in Marvel Comics. What's more, the current Civil War II arc has placed Carol front and center, with the character leading one side of the superhero schism. Given that role was (of course) occupied by Captain America in the first Civil War arc, it kind of gives us an idea of just how big a figure Carol is nowadays.
So there you have it, true believers! Five things you really need to know about Captain Marvel, the first female Marvel superhero to lead her own film. We can only wait in eager anticipation for those casting decisions to be announced...