“Captain Marvel” is back in the news and our minds, now that Brie Larson has been officially announced as having landed the title role in the March 2019 Marvel Studios film. Already conducting important research for the film, Larson has received mostly enthusiasm and support from members of the so-called Carol Corps, including the endorsement of Kelly Sue DeConnick.
As one of the most beloved writers of Carol ever, and the one most often credited with her increased popularity and prominence at Marvel Comics, DeConnick’s support was critical. “I have a lot of people following my lead,” she explained in an interview with Vanity Fair last month. According to DeConnick, that support is particularly critical because female action leads are so rarely funded, let alone successful: “When we cast women as leads in an action film we saddle them with a responsibility of representing the possible success or failure of all women-led films for the next five years.” Brie Larson is starring in the first female-driven film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so if “Captain Marvel” fails, it could mean a much longer wait to see other female heroes on-screen. (It is a double standard that doesn’t seem to apply to Ben Affleck.)
10. 10. Pants!
Carol Danvers claimed the Captain Marvel title back in 2012, after the death of her predecessor, the Kree Mar Vell. Although the title upgrade was a great moment for Carol for a number of reasons — among them the addition of Kelly Sue DeConnick to the creative team — this run meant much more for the character than just a promotion.
For one thing, it meant pants. Although DeConnick is often credited with this change, the fan-favorite writer has regularly disclaimed the credit. It was evidently then-editor Steve Wacker who had the idea, and all but blindsided DeConnick with it in an email. “I can’t tell if you’re joking,” she famously wrote back.
Since 2012, Captain Marvel’s jumpsuit has become an important symbol of the evolution of female representation across superhero comics. More female heroes than ever before have benefited by the increased attention to their costuming, and more women are being drawn with costumes more equivalent with those of their male colleagues. We can only hope this trend will follow Captain Marvel into the MCU; at this point, the cinematic oversexualization of Carol would be a major letdown for the Carol Corps, no matter how good Brie Larson might look in a leotard.
9. 9. The New Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel has had an immense impact on Marvel Comics over the last ten years. Carol Danvers’ transition from “Ms.” to “Captain” has been received with almost unanimous enthusiasm, and her time under the moniker has featured exploits of heroism so enjoyable and quintessentially American that she could almost rival Captain America, albeit with decidedly more snark. But although an upgraded title and costume were both great developments, particularly for a character with a history of objectification, one of the biggest ways that Ms. Marvel influenced the comic world was by becoming someone else.
Marvel’s creation of Kamala Khan as the new Ms. Marvel has been an unmitigated success. As a Pakistani American girl, Kamala has more than one dual identity to navigate; her life as a superhero is certainly complicated, but she is also navigating her life as a first generation American. It is a story that many american comic book readers can identify with, and readers have welcomed her with open arms. By relinquishing her title as Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers made space for one of the most compelling characters in Marvel comics today.
So will we see a young Kamala Khan in the upcoming “Captain Marvel” feature? It’s hard to say. As an Inhuman, Kamala’s powers were activated by exposure to the Terrigen Mist — a convention they haven’t brought into the MCU yet. However, if Marvel is looking to continue its growing cinematic franchise into the next decade, setting up the Inhumans would be wise. After all, they aren’t mutants, so we don’t have to worry about Fox.
8. 8. A Fight in Space
As a woman who inherited her superpowers from an alien race, Danvers has more than a few things in common with DC’s Superman; she’s incredibly strong, can fly, regenerate, and absorb energy — which means her capable of firing energy at her foes. It makes her a compelling character, to be sure, but particularly when Superman is flying threats into space and leaving them there — because, like her color-coordinated counterpart, Carol appears to be able to breathe in space.
Which makes our galaxy an absolute treasure trove of possibilities for cinematic exploration. Carol Danvers has always been about flying, and has spent time in space with both the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Alpha Flight team. She’s actually shown beating up an asteroid field in 2016’s “Captain Marvel” #1 with apparently little concern for her ability to breathe. If we’re lucky, “Captain Marvel” will incorporate some of this action, because there are few things cooler than watching a human autonomously flying around space.
7. 7. At least one Guardian of the Galaxy
If you’re going to be flying around space anyway, you might as well meet up with at least one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. In fact, this makes so much sense from an MCU standpoint that it feels like a no brainer. The hugely successful “Guardians of the Galaxy” will be followed next summer with “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” which looks temptingly great, between the consistent directorial competence and the addition of Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone to the cast. At this point, a cameo from one of the Guardians seems like a safe way to siphon off some of their cinematic success, which could be helpful to support Marvel’s first female-led film.
But even if that weren’t the case, “Captain Marvel” offers a unique opportunity to further unite the Marvel universe by bringing the earth-bound heroes into contact with those in space. Until this point, off-Earth travel has been limited primarily to trips to Asgard, which is more like inter-dimensional travel than space travel, really. In truth, even though “Guardians of the Galaxy” may have felt like an alternate universe, with its space travel and its easy acceptance of a variety of alien races that the Avengers have never seen, these two teams are supposed to exist within the same universe — they just haven’t met yet. What better hero to introduce them than Carol Danvers, who has been, within the comics, a member of both teams?
6. 6. Her Cat, Chewie
If you can’t send Carol Danvers to space without her cat, you can’t bring her into the Marvel Cinematic Universe without her, either. Chewie — named after Chewbacca, of course — first appeared in Brian Reed’s one-shot “Giant-Size Ms. Marvel #1,” back in 2006. In the story, Danvers is transported to an alternate universe, where Warren Traveler is (of course) trying to kill her. Thrown through a wall into a building by the force of his magic, Carol looks up to see a fluffy, perplexed-looking cat staring down at her. “Kitty, you wouldn’t happen to have any super powers, would you?” Carol asks hopefully. “Because I could really use some help here.”
As far as dramatic irony goes, it doesn’t get much better than that. Chewie would indeed help Carol in “Giant-Size Ms. Marvel” — if only as an irritable projectile — and she would become a full member of the family after “Ms. Marvel #4,” when she mysteriously appeared inside of Carol’s apartment and just… never left.
Whether or not the cat turns out to be a Flerken, no Captain Marvel film could be complete without the tawny, irritable Chewie, who is more important to Carol than even Iron Patriot — if you consider who she was willing to leave the Earth without.
5. 5. A Superhero Best Friend
If we can assume that Marvel is knitting together as many future films as possible, and that they are employing female writers with the intent to create a female-friendly superhero film, it would make sense for the film to feature other strong, female characters. If that isn’t Kamala Khan, who may or may not be saved for a potential future Inhumans franchise, then it ought to be Jessica Drew, one of Carol’s longest lasting friends, who just happens to also be Spider-Woman.
According to the comics, Jessica and Carol first became friends during Carol’s conflict with the mutant Rogue, who permanently stole Carol’s powers during a lengthy battle in San Francisco. Attracted by the commotion, Spider-Woman arrived just in time to watch Rogue drain Carol almost completely, and throw her unconscious body off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Heroic as ever, Spider-Woman retrieved Carol’s body from the bay and brought her to Professor X, who nursed Ms. Marvel back to health. Since then, the two have enjoyed a lengthy friendship.
Unfortunately, even though an appearance in the “Captain Marvel” movie would no doubt please Danvers’ fans greatly — not only because Drew is awesome, but also because it would suggest that Disney is interested in continuing the increased presence of females in the MCU — it might be written-off as more trouble than it’s worth. Although Jessica Drew’s powers and abilities continue to be owned by Marvel, Sony retains the rights to anything Spider — meaning the name “Spider-Woman,” too. That being said, including Spider-Woman in “Captain Marvel” could be a useful marketing strategy, particularly if Sony intends to include Spider-Man’s female counterparts in upcoming films. If their current Spider-Man deal already allows for this, or could be amended, maybe they can make room for Jessica Drew.
4. 4. Some remnant of feminist iconography
One of the most heralded aspects of Ms. Marvel’s background was her time as the editor of “Woman” magazine. Clearly a reaction to Wonder Woman’s time on the cover of Ms. magazine, Carol’s editorial control over “Woman” magazine was crafted to establish her as not only a talented writer, but also as a feminist icon.
Unfortunately, her time as the female editor of a magazine was one of few positive things to occur to Carol over her early years as Ms. Marvel. For much of the time since her introduction, Carol had been a passive participant in her own story — receiving powers when a male hero saves her, having her powers and memories stripped from her, and even being mind-controlled, raped and impregnated by a man who turned out to be his own father. The latter is one of the most gruesome examples of the women in refrigerators concept within mainstream comics.
As such, it is more important than ever that Carol be able to fulfill her potential as a feminist icon. Whether or not this actually includes a stint as the editor of Woman magazine is unimportant, although it might be fun to see her interact with J. Jonah Jameson. What matters is that Captain Marvel of the MCU not be subjugated to the same tropes as befell Ms. Marvel within the comic book universe, particularly because this is Marvel’s first female-led title.
3. 3. “In Pursuit of Flight,” the Time Travel Arc from “Captain Marvel” #1-6 (2012)
With almost no information on the new “Captain Marvel” film other than its writers and lead actress, it’s impossible to say whether they will depict Carol Danvers through her canonical trajectory from Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel, explain it in voice over or flashback, or just eclipse it completely. It goes without saying that the many struggles that Carol faced during her time as Ms. Marvel were essential to the development and improvement of her personal character, but it would not be that surprising if, for the sake of the MCU, they mostly ignored it. In other words, two hours may not be enough time to introduce Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel, and also emphasize the importance of her transition to Captain Marvel.
But just because they might limit her background doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice everything. Hopeful storylines for the future film include DeConnick’s excellent time loop, wherein Carol travels back in time and is able to choose whether or not she wants to receive her powers. The story features thrilling action and exciting flying, and could be cinematic gold.
But more importantly, this arc in particular did a lot to empower Carol in her own story. Historically, Danvers received her powers because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the alien Mar Vell shielded her from an explosion. The explosion caused his DNA to fuse with hers, and she awoke with superhuman powers.
Of course, this origin story makes Danvers a passive participant in her own story. By bringing Carol back to the very moment of her superhero origins, DeConnick gave her the opportunity to choose whether or not to become a hero, rather than to have the choice made for her. It would be great to see “Captain Marvel” accomplish the same.
2. 2. A Visit From Tony Stark
Robert Downey Jr. has been in almost as many MCU films as Stan Lee, so why should he stop now? An appearance of the charismatic Iron Man would not be amiss in the first Carol Danvers film, and not just because they always have witty repartee. The two have history — from serving together under the Avengers, to their mutual connections in the Guardians of the Galaxy, and to their agreement — in Marvel’s “Civil War” — that superhumans ought to be registered.
Given the drastic change in their relationship after the publication of “Civil War II” earlier this year, Iron Man’s appearance in “Captain Marvel” would be that much more satisfying for fans. Meanwhile, the adoption of some of the “Civil War II” themes could justify the introduction of the Terrigen Mist and the Inhumans, and cement the possibility of Ms. Marvel.
At the very least it would give Kamala Khan something to write fan fiction about.
1. 1. “Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager”
Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel has come a long way from the Carol Danvers who first became Ms. Marvel. She’s changed titles and changed costumes and spent time in space, and she’s recovered from a lot of unfortunate circumstances in her past.
When DeConnick came on board, Carol also began to change her attitude. The new Captain Marvel was rebooted with her eye back on the sky, because, as DeConnick explained, “My pitch was ‘Carol Danvers as Chuck Yeager.'” She can pilot anything — which explains why she feels comfortable in space — and she has an unquenchable need for speed. In her comics Danvers delivers on fearlessness and ability, both characteristics that would be most welcome in the upcoming feature-length film.
For now, fans will have to hope that Perlman and LeFauve will take these characteristics to heart as they write the first Marvel film to focus on a female protagonist. With top-notch source material depicting a smart, powerful, and fearless hero, it is hard to believe that any creative team could mess this up. Then again, there are plenty of great “Suicide Squad” comics.
What are you hoping to see in the Captain Marvel movie?
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