Kevin Feige recently stated that there are over 10000 Marvel Comics characters at their disposal, not including the ones that will be available when the Disney-Fox deal eventually comes to a close. For that reason, nearly every single character in the MCU is based, even if very loosely, on an existing comic book counterpart. The ones who aren't could probably fit in one of those awful top ten lists nobody reads (stay tuned...).
Getting back to the matter at hand, Carol Danvers is no exception to this rule. She's been active on paper since 1968, but she has only just been introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the release of Captain Marvel came a ton of changes to her origin story, her friends, her enemies, and even her own name. With that said, let's dive into the 10 biggest changes to Carol Danvers from the comics.
10 NOT ALL HUMAN
Up until last year, it was believed that Carol Danvers had been born 100% human. Marvel Comics' Life of Captain Marvel denied that, revealing her half-Kree nature. It turns out that her mother, Marie Danvers, was actually Mari-Ell, Champion of the Kree Empire. Joe Danvers had rescued her after she crash-landed on Earth.
Afterward, they fell in love, got married, and gave birth to a daughter, Car-Ell. Fortunately for Car-Ell, they decided to change that name to Carol Danvers, so she wouldn't have to grow up with an alien name. In the MCU, for all we know, Captain Marvel was born with pure human blood and bones.
9 ORIGIN OF HER POWERS
Both the comics and the MCU have one thing in common when it comes to the origin of her powers. A huge, life-altering explosion. But that's about it. The comic book origin story sees Carol Danvers and Kree hero, Mar-Vell (the original Captain Marvel), fighting side by side before an accidental explosion apparently fuses Carol's DNA with Mar-Vell's. Last year's Life of Captain Marvel reveal tells us that's not exactly what happened.
The blast, and Mar-Vell's presence, simply activated the Kree genes that she already had. Captain Marvel has a different story. After Carol shoots Dr. Lawson's aircraft, she causes a violent explosion and becomes shrouded with the power of the Tesseract AKA the Space Stone. Because it wouldn't be an MCU movie without an Infinity Stone creeping up somewhere.
8 ALIASES AND COSTUMES
Ms. Marvel, Binary, Warbird, and finally, Captain Marvel. These are all the names Carol Danvers gave herself throughout her superhero career. The MCU makes it simpler. In Captain Marvel, she is...Captain Marvel. To make it seem even more ridiculous, the comics only gave Danvers that name in 2012, after six other heroes had already held that mantle. The "Captain Marvel" now made popular by Marvel Studios is, in fact, the 7th version.
And the costumes are as varied as the names. For each one of her identities she wore a different outfit, and each "Captain Marvel" had its own look. The movie gives us only two different costumes. Her Starforce suit, and the costume made famous when Carol Danvers finally became the Captain seven years ago.
7 NICK FURY
One of Captain Marvel's biggest highlights was Nicholas Joseph Fury. His presence was immensely felt, to the point that at times the movie resembled a '90s buddy cop comedy between him and the titular character. As a result, by the end of the movie, both characters became close friends. So close that Fury did not hesitate to contact her 20 years later when he needed her help.
The comic book Danvers went a different path. During her pre-superhero days, she spent some time as a CIA agent. It was there that she met Colonel Nick Fury. She's had many interactions with heroes since her debut in the '60s. Some became friends, others, acquaintances. Fury was the former.
6 STARFORCE AND YON-ROGG
Starforce is a little-known group of villains in the comics, with very few appearances. The MCU decided to give them a bigger spotlight, making Carol Danvers part of the team. In both comics and live-action, Starforce is an elite Kree strike force that acts under the control of the Supreme Intelligence, the Kree's governing authority. They are also both made up of the same members, with a few tweaked names (Dr. Minerva became Minn-Erva, Captain Atlas became Att-Lass, etc).
One who is missing from the comic book crew, though, is Yon-Rogg, Carol's Kree mentor and Starforce leader in the movie. His connection to her is very different, although, like in Captain Marvel, he is also present when she gains her powers. On paper, Yon-Rogg kidnaps Danvers and is then rescued by Mar-Vell. But not before the aforementioned superhero creating explosion happens.
5 MEMORY LOSS
There is a weirdly specific similarity between both iterations of Carol Danvers. For some reason, the people behind her comic book run as well as the crew responsible for her first live-action appearance have a need to include an amnesiac superhero, although they do it in very different ways. In Captain Marvel, Danvers spends the entire runtime finding out about her past life on Earth, before the Tesseract-filled explosion, as she initially believes she is nothing but a Kree.
The comic books feature a darker story. When she gains her powers, she suffers memory loss, but only when she turns into Ms. Marvel. It's like if Bruce Banner had no recollection of being the Hulk. She eventually finds a cure to this, but then really does lose memories of her past in a battle. She regains her memory but has no emotional connection to them, becoming sad and bitter and even developing a drinking problem.
For this movie, the Skrulls were arguably the most anticipated addition to the MCU, except for maybe Captain Marvel herself. However, while they make up a large part of Carol Danvers' story in Captain Marvel, their comic book counterparts haven't interacted as much. Fun fact: the Skrulls were the first villains Marvel ever created. For that reason, they have obviously faced a lot of heroes in their decades-long existence.
The Kree might be one of their greatest enemies, but Carol Danvers is not. Like many characters, she's only faced them on a few occasions. The most obvious difference between both versions of Skrulls is how un-villainous they are in the movie. As a matter of fact, they're nothing more than a helpless, peaceful people, fleeing desperately from the Kree empire. A tremendous change from their original oppressive and merciless nature.
3 THE RAMBEAU FAMILY
Captain Marvel featured a big change from the comics by making Maria Rambeau her co-worker, turned best friend. The original Maria Rambeau has never met Carol Danvers, isn't an air force pilot, and isn't even the same age as her. She's pretty much an irrelevant part of the universe. She's as important a character as Hawkeye's mother, Edith Barton. In other words, she's just there to give birth to a popular superhero.
That popular superhero being Monica Rambeau, who does make an appearance in the movie, but as a young child. In the comics, Monica and Carol aren't really that close, but they are both the same age and were both bore the title of Captain Marvel. Kevin Feige always plans 10 movies ahead, so there is a huge chance that, while Maria could become as irrelevant as she is on paper, little Monica will make a more significant future appearance in the MCU.
Maybe one of the biggest changes to Carol Danvers' story (and to the movie in general) was the portrayal of Mar-Vell. As has been mentioned, Mar-Vell plays a very important role in the Marvel Comics universe as he is the original Captain Marvel. His name alone gives it away. In both mediums, Mar-Vell served a crucial role in Danvers' origin story, and in very similar ways. In the comics, as well as on screen, both Captain Marvels were working together before the confrontation that lead to the famous explosions.
In Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell is shot and killed, unlike the comic book counteprt who continues to work alongside Carol and other popular heroes. There is also a very apparent physical change. He was written a man, and filmed a woman. On paper, he breifly disguises himslef as scinetist, Walter Lawson. Marvel Studios used this and gave Mar-Vell the identity of Wendy Lawson.
1 NOT THE FIRST AVENGER
Captain Marvel was as much an origin story, as it was a prequel to the entire MCU (minus Captain America). The movie shows many elements that pertain to the franchise’s origins and its future. In fact, Carol Danvers’ story is crucial to a series of extremely important plot-points in the MCU. This was Nick Fury’s first interaction with any superhero/alien ever, and the main reason behind the Avenger’s creation. And it’s hard to ignore that the heroic team is named after her air-force callsign: Carol “Avenger” Danvers.
There’s not much to tell when it comes to comics. I could write an entire biography of Carol’s achievements, battles, and interactions in that universe. But all that matters is that she never came close to being the first superhero, and never had an impact towards the creation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.