With the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is set to end. Enter Phase Four, and the impending introduction of one of Marvel’s most powerful female superheroes into the MCU: Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, who will be played by Brie Larson in 2019’s Captain Marvel.
It has been a long journey to the top for Carol. Since she was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gene Colan 50 years ago in 1968, she has been through numerous ups and downs, assumed several superhero identities, and played major roles in some of Marvel’s biggest events.
We’ll be focusing more on her career as Captain Marvel closer to the release of the movie; for now, we’ll be taking a look at the evolution of Carol Danvers through these past five decades.
Carol Susan Jane Danvers
Before she was Marvel’s flagship female superhero, she was Carol Susan Jane Danvers, first an officer in the US Air Force, and later, head of security for Nasa. She made her debut in March 1968’s Marvel Super-Heroes #13, where she met Dr Walter Lawson, the human alter-ego of the Kree warrior Mar-Vell, the first Captain Marvel.
Little did she know that her fate would become intertwined with that of Mar-Vell’s. In Captain Marvel #18 (1969), an alien named Yon-Rogg kidnaps her, and during his battle with Mar-Vell, she is exposed to a damaged Kree Psyche-Magnitron (a Kree device that can give humanoids superhuman powers).
Her genetic structure is altered, turning her into a Kree/human hybrid. Experiencing odd physical changes as a result of the accident, Carol eventually resigns as Nasa’s head of security.
It wasn’t until January 1977 that Carol took her first step towards becoming a superhero. She makes her debut as the first incarnation of Ms Marvel in Ms. Marvel #1 (January 1977), in which she joined the Daily Bugle as editor of its women’s magazine.
At the time, she was already fighting for women’s rights – even locking horns with the infamous J. Jonah Jameson himself over how much she should get paid.
In the beginning, the Psyche-Magnitron’s alterations caused Carol to black out and become a Kree warrior complete with a superhero costume. After fighting the Scorpion (who kidnapped Jameson) in the first issue, she adopts the name “Ms Marvel”, since her costume ties her to Captain Marvel.
Ms Marvel joins the Avengers in 1979’s Avengers #183, and stays on until the lamentable The Child Is Father To...? story in 1980’s Avengers #200.
The ridiculous plot sees Carol somehow getting pregnant and giving birth to a baby boy within a few days. The boy grows to a full adult within hours, calls himself Marcus, and claims to be the son of Immortus.
In order to escape from Limbo, Marcus arranged to be reincarnated and reborn on Earth. He then builds a machine to stop his rapid ageing, but it is destroyed by the Avengers, resulting in him returning to Limbo together with Carol, who is still under his influence.
Carol later escapes Limbo, and upon returning to Earth, she confronts the Avengers about doing nothing to stop Marcus, and she leaves the team.
After leaving the Avengers, Carol gets into a fight with the X-Man Rogue, who absorbs all her Ms Marvel powers and memories. Prof X helps her to recover her memories, and she begins fighting alongside the X-Men.
During a mission with the X-Men, Carol is abducted by the Brood and subjected to an evolutionary ray. This triggers something within her, and she is transformed into the powerful cosmic entity called Binary.
She then decides not to go back to Earth (Prof X restored her memories, but not her emotional ties to those memories), and joins the Starjammers instead. This part of Carol’s journey is especially significant, as it establishes her link with space and Marvel’s cosmic universe.
Upon returning to Earth, Carol uses up all her Binary powers to save the sun, and ends up recuperating in the Avengers Mansion.
She rejoins the team, taking on the new alias Warbird (Avengers #4, 1998), but the loss of her Binary powers drives her to alcoholism, which eventually causes her to be suspended from the team during the Live Kree Or Die storyline.
Ms Marvel, part 2
Carol eventually returns to the Ms Marvel persona, donning a new costume and getting her own solo title in 2006.
It’s around this time that Carol’s profile starts going up, as she plays major parts in the House Of M (2005), Civil War (2006) and Secret Invasion (2008) events, establishing herself as one of Marvel’s more prominent female superheroes.
Ironically, she favoured the Superhuman Registration Act and sided with Iron Man in Civil War. 10 years later, it is her rivalry with Tony Stark over the use of the future-predicting powers of the Inhuman Ulysses that brings about the Civil War II event.
Carol eventually finally assumes the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012, with a new solo series written by Kelly Sue Deconnick.
Since then, she has grown from strength to strength, joining not only the main Avengers team but also the Guardians of the Galaxy, becoming a mentor to the new Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan, and also commanding the Alpha Flight station as Earth’s first line of defence against cosmic threats.
From being a damsel in distress saved by the original Captain Marvel to becoming Captain Marvel herself, Carol Danvers has certainly come a long way these 50 years.