If you haven’t watched Avengers Infinity War, be warned that there are spoilers ahead. Still here? Good. If you stayed for the post-credits scene of the movie, you’ll remember that before Nick Fury managed to contact someone just before he crumbled into dust. That symbol you saw on the device was that of Captain Marvel. Who is Captain Marvel?
Let me clarify a few things first. Marvel Studios plans to release the Captain Marvel movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2019. That movie will star the current Captain Marvel, whose real name is Carol Danvers. However, she was not the first to assume the mantle in the comics. She was actually the SEVENTH person or character to actually take the name, Captain Marvel. Not to worry, the MCU will probably only feature two of those, which I predict will be the first and the seventh.
First and Original Captain Marvel: Mar-Vell
The first and original Captain Marvel was an alien from the Kree race named Mar-Vell, created in 1967 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. He was a captain in the Kree military and was sent to Earth to act as a spy. However, as he spent time amongst humans and Earth heroes, he betrayed his own race and decided to become a defender of humanity.
His powers came mostly from the Nega-Bands, which convert Mar-Vell’s psionic energy into super strength, durability, speed, flight and the ability to survive in space. Kinda like Superman without his crazier powers like heat vision and frost breath, in a way. Oh, and he also had Cosmic Awareness, allowing him to allows him to detect threats and perceive changes in the universe, kinda like a more powerful version of the Spidey Sense.
Mar-Vell made Marvel history when its first-ever graphic novel ‘The Death of Captain Marvel’ was released in 1982. He died due to cancer from exposure to a chemical gas but he is one of the few heroes in comics history to die peacefully on his deathbed, surrounded by other fellow Marvel superheroes.
Second Captain Marvel: Monica Rambeau
The second Captain Marvel was Monica Rambeau, an African-American woman with the power to transform herself into any form of energy. She doesn’t have the same powers and is not related to Mar-Vell but decided to claim the mantle when no one else did.
She was the first African-American woman to join the Avengers and later even became the leader for a short spell. She then ceded the Captain Marvel name to Mar-Vell’s son, Genis-Vell, and took the name Photon. Later, she took the name Pulsar and is currently known as Spectrum in the comics.
Third Captain Marvel: Genis-Vell
The third Captain Marvel was Genis-Vell, the genetically-engineered son of Mar-Vell who first made his appearance in 1993. He had the same powers as his father since he could also use the Nega-Bands. However, he had one problem, he couldn’t control the Cosmic Awareness, which made him go insane and destroys the multiverse. Yes, he was extremely powerful due to his mother being the same race as Thanos.
The multiverse was then reborn, with several alterations, including the fact that Genis-Vell now suddenly had a sister named Phyla-Vell. He later joined the Thunderbolts (Marvel’s version of the Suicide Squad) under the name Photon. The leader of the Thunderbolts, Baron Zemo, killed Genis-Vell when he discovered that the universe is destined to once again be destroyed by Genis-Vell.
Fourth Captain Marvel: Phyla-Vell
The fourth Captain Marvel was Phyla-Vell, the daughter of Mar-Vell. She’s actually one of my favorite Marvel cosmic characters. She fought in the universal scale Annihilation War and took part in a lot of Marvel’s cosmic storylines for a while.
She has the same powers as Mar-Vell, without needing to use the Nega-Bands. Shen then acquired the Quantum Bands, which made her the new Quasar, with powers similar to a Green Lantern. She was also part of the Guardians of the Galaxy until she died defending her teammates from the evil dark incarnation of Adam Warlock, Magus.
Fifth and Sixth Captain Marvels: Khn’nr and Noh-Varr
I grouped these two together because they only took the Captain Marvel name for an insignificant amount of time.
Khn’nr was a Skrull who was programmed to shapeshift into Mar-Vell. He was intended to be a sleeper agent to infiltrate the Earth’s superhero community. He later died while helping defend Earth against his own race during the Secret Invasion storyline.
Noh-Varr was a member of the Kree race who found a copy of the Nega-Bands and decided to take the Captain Marvel name for a while. He’s still alive in the comics, under the name Marvel Boy or sometimes Protector.
Seventh Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers
This is the Captain Marvel who will be featured in the MCU, played by actress Brie Larson in next year’s 2019 movie.
Carol Danvers debuted in the comics in 1968. She’s an officer in the United States Air Force and Security Chief of a restricted military base when she gets entangled with Captain Marvel and caught in an explosion caused by a Kree device. It gave her superhuman abilities by turning her into a human-Kree hybrid. She has super strength, flight and the ability to absorb energy and release it as blasts. She can sometimes turn Binary on certain occasions, allowing her to tap into the powers of a “white hole,” making her more powerful, with power levels similar to that of the Silver Surfer.
She went on to join the Avengers, as well as taking the names of Warbird and Binary later on. She only recently assumed the mantle of Captain Marvel in 2012 when she decided to explore her own past and honor the legacy of Mar-Vell. She then joined the Guardians of the Galaxy and is now in charge of the space equivalent of the organization SHIELD, dubbed SWORD (Sentient World Observation and Response Department).
If you’re wondering who took the Ms. Marvel name after Carol Danvers became Captain Marvel, it’s a teenage Pakistani-American living in New Jersey named Kamala Khan. She has powers similar to Luffy from the One Piece manga/anime as she can enlarge and elongate any part of her body. She’s also an Inhuman, a human with special genes that grant special abilities when exposed to a chemical compound called the Terrigen Mist. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige recently confirmed that Kamala Khan will be introduced into the MCU in the future.
What Role Could Captain Marvel Play In The MCU?
Since Nick Fury scrambled to contact Captain Marvel during her last moments in Avengers Infinity War, it seems there are a few questions to answer in anticipation of next year’s solo Captain Marvel movie. When did they meet each other? Where has she been all this time in the MCU? Why did Nick Fury call her? What can she do against Thanos?
It’s been confirmed that the movie’s setting will take place during the 1990s as Earth is stuck in an intergalactic war between two alien races. That clearly means the Kree-Skrull War storyline from the comics. However, the problem is that in the comics, all of the Avengers were involved in the war. During the 90s in the MCU, none of the Avengers we know today would even actively be superheroes yet. What can Carol Danvers do alone against two the Kree and the Skrulls?
For starters, she’s not alone. She has a younger Nick Fury and Agent Phil Coulson, as well as the entire SHIELD organization. It’s also been confirmed that the original Captain Marvel in the comics, Mar-Vell, will be in the movie. Mar-Vell will be played by actor Jude Law.
Returning villains like Korath and Ronan the Accuser from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie will also be appearing, as well as a new villain, named Minn-Erva. a Kree geneticist played by actress Gemma Chan. Minn-Erva was originally a Mar-Vell villain in the comics, who then also became a villain of Carol Danvers when she was became affected by the same Kree machine which gave Danvers her powers.
As for the Skrulls, iconic villains like Super-Skrull are owned by Fox but Marvel Studios can use the race as a whole. A theory says that some of the Avengers we’ve been watching for the past 10 years have been Skrulls in disguise all along. It could play in how some of them could be revived in Avengers 4 next year.
As for what she can do against Thanos, Kevin Feige says that she’s “by far the most powerful character we’ve ever introduced.” As for where she’s been all this time between the 1990s and Infinity War, it’s probable that she’s still out in deep space, working for SWORD or something.
While waiting for Captain Marvel to release in (Malaysian) cinemas on 7th March 2018, check out our review of Avengers Infinity War here.