When it comes to Captain Marvel, there are a lot of confusing things about the superhero's past. This is because it all started out in the '40s with Fawcett Comics Captain Marvel, which was Billy Batson, who turned into a Godlike superhero. While DC Comics ended up with the rights to the character later, the company let the name "Captain Marvel" lapse long enough for Marvel to jump in and claim it.
Marvel then introduced its own Captain Marvel as a Kree warrior, and then ended up going through a number of different versions of the hero until Carol Danvers ended up owning the role. Now, with both Captain Marvel and Shazam coming out in the same year, the confusion is back about who the real Captain Marvel is. Here is a look at the 10 best versions of the hero, ranked.
10 BILLY MAR-VELL
For a short time, Marvel and DC Comics were working together on its amalgam universe. These comics took a character from each line and then morphed them into one character. In this case, it was simple. Mar-Vell combined with Billy Batson to create the amalgam version of Captain Marvel.
Named William Mar-Vell, he had the color scheme of the original Marvel Captain Marvel with the lightning bolt insignia of the DC Comics version. William was a child named Billy Batson and when he yelled "Kree" instead of "Shazam" he turned into a hero with Shazam's powers.
It seems almost ironic that the Kree and Skrulls had such a massive war and one of the best versions of Captain Marvel happened to be a Skrull in disguise. This happened in 2007 in the pages of the Civil War storyline when Mar-Vell miraculously returned and he was immediately welcomed back and accepted into the arms of Iron Man's pro-registration faction.
What is most interesting is that Khn'nr didn't even know he was a Skrull because he was a sleeper agent. When it was time for him to awaken, his memories of Mar-Vell overrode his Skrull training and he ended up siding with Earth and protecting it from an attacking Skrull army.
8 MAHR VEHL
Head over to the Ultimate Marvel Universe and Captain Marvel there was known as Mahr Vehl. He made his debut appearance in Ultimate Secret #1 in 2005 and, just like Mar-Vell before him, he was a Kree Empire spy placed on Earth -- this time working with S.H.I.E.L.D.
Also, just like Mar-Vell, this Captain Marvel also found a fondness for Earth and ended up helping them defeat Gah Lak Tus. When it came time to choose sides, Mahr Vehl sided with Earth against the Kree and eventually died battling Gah Lak Tus again, leading to Rick Jones taking the role of Captain Marvel for himself.
Phyla-Vell is best known as Martyr but she has also used the codenames of Quasar and Captain Marvel. Phyla-Vell was created after Genis-Vell destroyed and re-created the universe. She was actually the second artificially created offspring of Mar-Vell and was the new Captain Marvel in the recreated universe, following Genis-Vell.
When she helped Genis regain his sanity, he ended up going into the future and asked Phyla to take his place when he was gone, leaving her as Captain Marvel. When her brother returned, she ended up soon taking on the role of Quasar. Her cosmic awareness was lower than her brothers, putting her a step below him in power.
The first of Captain Marvel's artificially created offspring, Mar-Vell's ex-lover Elysius felt alone after his death and used some of his genetic structure to create a child, which she named Genis-Vell. He was then artificially aged to maturity and became the new Captain Marvel, bonding with Rick Jones as his "father" had before.
Genis-Vell had almost limitless power since his father was a Kree and his mother had godlike powers. Over time, Genis-Vell became a villain and committed some horrific acts while insane but soon regained his sanity and became a hero again. He later became Photon and joined the Thunderbolts.
Noh-Varr is better known as Marvel Boy, a member of the Kree race in an alternate dimension. He actually had his DNA altered with the genes of a cockroach in order to give him the properties of an insect. If that sounds strange, it is likely because the creative team behind Noh-Varr was Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones.
Noh-Varr declared war on Earth when he arrived there and was captured and imprisoned. After the Secret Invasion of the Skrulls when Norman Osborn became a hero, he released Noh-Varr from prison and gave him the role of Captain Marvel. It didn't last long but he became a hero as Marvel Boy again, joining the Young Avengers and helping the Inhumans.
4 MONICA RAMBEAU
After Mar-Vell died and while Carol Danvers was still known as Ms. Marvel, Monica Rambeau took on the name Captain Marvel. For those who watched the Captain Marvel movie, Monica was the daughter of Carol's close friend Maria, meaning that there is a chance that the little girl who worshipped Carol might one day grow up to be a hero.
This version of Captain Marvel had nothing to do with the Kree. She possessed powers that could transform her into energy, which she could use as weapons. This included just about any energy one can think of, from X-rays to gamma rays, electricity and more. She was a member of The Avengers and later changed her name to Photon, Pulsar, and Spectrum.
Mar-Vell is the original Captain Marvel in Marvel Comics. He was a Kree soldier sent to Earth to live among us as a spy. While on the planet, he grew to admire and even love Earth and didn't want to continue to deceive the planet as a double agent.
As a NASA scientist, he had a lot of knowledge of Earth's defense systems but he ended up going to battle fellow Kree soldier Yon-Rogg to stop him from attacking Earth. At this moment, the battle caused an explosion which caused Carol Danvers to end up with her powers. Mar-Vell was the first major superhero to die not from battling a villain, but from an all too real battle with cancer.
2 BILLY BATSON
In the '40s, there was only one Captain Marvel and he had nothing to do with Marvel Comics. At Fawcett Comics, the character of Billy Batson was a kid who gained the powers of Captain Marvel from a wizard named SHAZAM. When he called out the wizard's name, he became Captain Marvel.
He has the wisdom of Soloman, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury, explaining the wizard's name. Soon, DC Comics had the rights to Captain Marvel as a character but Marvel Comics trademarked the name. Now, Captain Marvel is simply known as Shazam, possibly the second most powerful character in DC outside of Superman.
1 CAROL DANVERS
The superhero known as Captain Marvel in Marvel Comics now is Carol Danvers. She gained her powers directly from Mar-Vell, who supported her in her new role as a superhero. After Mar-Vell's death, she remained Ms. Marvel for years but it was Captain America who convinced her to take the role of Captain Marvel in honor of Mar-Vell.
As Kevin Feige said about her movie character, Carol Danvers might be the most powerful being in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That is high praise. She might or might not be as strong as Shazam, and no one will really ever know, but she is one of the most powerful beings in all of comic books and is the best Captain Marvel on this list.