Back Issues: ‘Captain Marvel’ flies onto big screen

AP Photo Brie Larson in a scene from “Captain Marvel.”

The Marvel universe includes plenty of strong, capable superheroines, but none ever stood out from the pack the way Wonder Woman has for DC.

That may be about to change as “Captain Marvel” arrives in theaters today.

Carol Danvers was introduced in 1968’s “Marvel Super-Heroes” #13 as NASA’s head of security at Cape Canaveral and a supporting character to the original Captain Marvel. (Well, Marvel’s original Captain Marvel. We’ll get into the original original Captain Marvel next month, when “Shazam” comes out.)

She often fell into the familiar female supporting character role of getting kidnapped by villains and rescued by Captain Marvel, a member of the alien Kree race whose actual name was Mar-Vell. In one of these encounters, the detonation of a device called the Psyche-Magnetron caused Mar-Vell’s DNA to merge with hers. However, the recent “Life of Captain Marvel” storyline revealed Carol’s mother was actually a Kree.

Carol’s powers of flight, super-strength, energy absorption and energy blasts weren’t unveiled until the 1977 debut of the “Ms. Marvel” series. Established as a successful solo hero, she eventually got a less ridiculous-looking costume (with bigger boots to, I guess, make up for the persistent lack of pants?) and was invited to join the Avengers.

Her tenure came to an abrupt end in a controversial storyline where she gave birth to a son after a three-day pregnancy, then returned to the dimension of Limbo when that son, who was also somehow his own father, grew to adulthood in a matter of days. Carol was under the mysterious being’s mental influence the whole time. If this paragraph leaves a bad taste in your mouth, just imagine how ticked Carol was in-story when she returned to Earth and confronted the Avengers for being cool with the whole thing.

Soon after, Carol ran afoul of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. New recruit Rogue’s ability to drain people’s energy and powers went awry when she remained in contact with the heroine too long, leaving Ms. Marvel without powers or memories.

Carol become a supporting character in “Uncanny X-Men” for a while after that, with Professor X restoring her memories, but not the emotions attached to them.

While in space with the X-Men, Carol developed new powers, became the cosmically powered Binary and hung out with the space-faring Starjammers for a while. Eventually she returned to Earth and rejoined the Avengers, going by the codename Warbird. That go-round didn’t last long due to her struggles with alcoholism, but she overcame her demons and helped the team thwart the villain Kang’s occupation of Earth.

In the “House of M” storyline, Carol became the world’s most popular superhero in an alternate reality. When the timeline was restored, she rededicated herself to being a top-tier hero and Marvel really started to push her as an A-lister. She led a post-“Civil War” Avengers squad, remaining with various incarnations of the team throughout major stories.

After encountering a resurrected Mar-Vell during the “Avengers vs. X-Men” event, Carol took on his title and the new costume with which movie-goers are about to be acquainted. Runs by writers Kelly Sue Deconnick and Margaret Stohl, among others, firmly established the new Captain Marvel as one of Marvel’s heaviest hitters and will no doubt be a significant influence on the movie.

Recent stories have positioned Captain Marvel not just as a key Avenger, but also a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the leader of the Alpha Flight initiative that protects Earth from extraterrestrial threats.

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Recommended Reading

* “Ms. Marvel: Best of the Best” — Carol Danvers tries to take her superhero game to the next level, starting with a faceoff against the alien Brood.

* “Captain Marvel: Earth’s Mightiest Hero” Vol. 1 — Carol takes over the mantle of Captain Marvel, gets caught up in a time-travel adventure and teams up with former Captain Marvel Monica Rambeau.

* “Life of Captain Marvel” — The latest version of Carol’s origin, revealing her connection to the Kree runs deeper than previously thought.

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