Marvel Comics has had at least one hero called Captain Marvel since 1968, when the alien Mar-Vell rebelled against his Kree superiors and devoted himself to protecting Earth rather than destroying it. Many heroes have taken inspiration from his name and legacy since then, leading to a proliferation of Captain Marvels and Ms. Marvels in the 50 years since Mar-Vell's debut. Some, like Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan, have far surpassed Mar-Vell in popularity and are practically household names. Others, like Genis-Vell and Sharon Ventura, are more obscure but still contributed to the Marvel legacy in one form or another. Between them all, they have worn an entire closet full of costumes. And that's saying nothing of the many alternate universe Marvels who occasionally pop in for a visit!
This list will count down 20 of the most memorable Captain/Ms. Marvel costumes ever worn, in this universe or any other. It also includes several costumes that former Marvels -- particularly Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau -- wore while using other names. This is hardly a complete list -- we've had to skip a ton of outfits and a Marvel or two out of necessity. Like we said, there are kind of a lot of them. But hopefully we can still provide an idea of just how varied the Marvel heroes -- and, occasionally, villains -- truly is. From Mar-Vell's very first spacesuit to Carol's most recent alterations to her name and costume, the Marvels just love switching up their looks, and we just love judging them for it.
Carol Danvers had been a supporting character to Captain Marvel since Marvel Super-Heroes #13 -- a mere one issue after the captain himself debuted. But it took almost a decade for Carol to receive any superpowers of her own. When she did, she took the name Ms. Marvel and donned a mutilated version of Mar-Vell’s outfit.
From the solar plexus up, Carol's costume is practically identical to her old friend's. Below that, everything starts to fall apart. Some people may refer to the large gap in her costume as a belly window, but it’s less a belly window and more a belly display case. That's okay, though. Very few heroes have gotten their costumes right on the first try.
After the events of "Secret Invasion," Norman Osborn put together his own team of superheroes called the Dark Avengers. This team had several incarnations, and in one of them, Osborn selected Deidre Wentworth as his new Ms. Marvel. Deidre, the man-hating leader of the Femizons, clearly based her costume on Carol Danvers’ original.
As this list has already established, this is literally the last costume anyone, even crazy supervillains, should be taking inspiration from. About the only difference from Carol's outfit is the addition of an extra black band above the belly window. Honestly, ladies, if you want to wear a bikini, just wear a bikini. There's no need for these weirdly cut one-pieces.
Sharon Ventura, a lifelong daredevil, gained superpowers from some dubiously ethical science experiments and then used her newfound powers to join a wrestling team. Also dubious is the costume that Sharon selects to begin her wrestling career -- and, later, her superhero career -- in.
There is a lot going on with Sharon's costume, and most of it is bad. The ragged-edged boots, the Wonder Woman-like "M" design on the chest, and the ubiquitous and unnecessary gold trim just don't mesh well. Sharon may have done good things both as Ms. Marvel and as the She-Thing, but choosing this outfit was not one of them.
In the late '90s, Carol Danvers lost the cosmic power she'd wielded as Binary. She adopted the name Warbird and continued crime-fighting anyway. In another universe, another Carol also adopted the name Warbird, in response to having her powers stolen by the mutant Rogue.
However, this Carol was determined to get as much revenge against Rogue as she possible could. She traveled across the multiverse, dropping every Rogue she could find. All the while, she wore plain black clothes with silver armor, including elbow pads, of all things. It's a good outfit for, say, a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but not so much for a supervillain.
Marvel’s first Captain Marvel, the Kree Captain Mar-Vell, debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #12. He was part of a crew sent to Earth to punish humankind after the Fantastic Four repeatedly thwarted their attempts at world domination.
When Mar-Vell wasn’t trying to fit in by wearing human clothes, he wore his Kree military uniform: a white bodysuit with green details, including a helmet. The helmet was especially important, as it allowed him to breathe in Earth’s exotic atmosphere. In the end, Mar-Vell decided he was kind of fond of us earthlings after all and stuck around rather than destroying the planet.
After Rogue steals her powers and her memories, Carol Danvers decides to hang out with the X-Men for a while. This proves to be either a mistake or a blessing, depending on how one looks at it. When the X-Men are kidnapped by the Brood, Carol is kidnapped with them.
The Brood, a nasty bug-like alien race, perform horrible experiments on Carol. Wolverine frees her, but it's too late. Her body chemistry has been irrevocably altered, and she soon transforms into the red-skinned, fiery-haired, cosmic-powered Binary. In this form, she wears a red-and-white costume that's a little oddly cut, but not the worst thing she's ever worn.
Where do superheroes get their fancy costumes from, anyway? When Kamala Khan officially began her crime-fighting career in Ms. Marvel #4, she resorted to making a costume herself out of whatever she had lying around her bedroom. The final result consisted of a burkini with a plain black mask, sneakers and a fanny pack.
In other words, it looks like what a kid would wear if they were dressing as Ms. Marvel for Halloween. It’s endearing, really, and it provided Kamala with some much needed practice in costume design. By Ms. Marvel #5, she had refined this costume into the look we know and love today.
When Mar-Vell died, he left several children behind. One of them was Phyla-Vell, who began calling herself Captain Marvel even though her older brother, Genis-Vell, was still using the name. Phyla-Vell's Captain Marvel costume is okay, but it's not very creative. It looks suspiciously like she blended her father's costume with the one her brother wore before he destroyed the universe. Even the haircut resembles Genis-Vell’s.
Unlike previous heroes inspired by Mar-Vell, Phyla-Vell doesn't appear to have added any personal touches to her costume whatsoever. Now the outfit she wears as Martyr, which is mostly black with a skull motif, is much more interesting.
After the main Marvel Universe and the Ultimates universe were destroyed, only Battleworld remained. Battleworld, an amalgamation of bits and pieces from various universes, is ruled by Doctor Doom, now calling himself God Emperor Doom.
In this world, Kamala Khan never became Ms. Marvel. Instead, going by the name Agent Khan, she is under orders from the Inhuman Queen Medusa to infiltrate the Voice Unheard, a rebel group bent on overthrowing Doom. In this capacity, Kamala wears a black bodysuit with red accents and her signature lightning bolt on the front. We wouldn't want Kamala to switch to this outfit full-time, but it's a neat change of pace.
We've already looked at Carol Danvers' head-scratching first attempt at a superhero costume. Fortunately, this look is only infamous because it's terrible, not because she wore it for a long time. Fewer than ten issues into her solo series, Ms. Marvel tweaked her outfit a bit. The results, while imperfect, are a massive improvement.
Carol's second costume looks very similar to the first, but without the giant stomach-bearing hole. It's still needlessly pantsless, and it still has the trailing scarf, which we are one hundred percent sure more than one villain has grabbed and choked her with. But it's a step in the right direction nonetheless.
Monica Rambeau gave up the name Captain Marvel when Mar-Vell's son asked her to. But that doesn't mean her superhero days ended there. Monica has continued to punch bad guys under various codenames, including Photon and Pulsar. She currently goes by the name Spectrum and wears a long dark trench coat over either a white bodysuit or a sleeker version of her original costume.
She no longer wears wing-like sleeves or giant boots, which is a pity, but the coat does increase this costume's cool factor. In this outfit, she helps Carol Danvers, by then known as Captain Marvel, defeat a giant robot cobbled together from various shipwrecks.
After betraying his entire race to protect humanity, Captain Mar-Vell discarded his military garb in favor of some new colors. The resulting costume has become a classic. It's a red leotard with black accents, boots and gloves, and a yellow starburst on the chest. He also wore gold Nega-Bands, which granted him most of his powers.
Mar-Vell would wear this costume for the rest of his superheroing days. And, as we have already seen, this look provided inspiration for multiple subsequent Marvels, who paid homage to their predecessor through both their appearances and their deeds. Mar-Vell may be dead for now, but we're sure he was happy to see what a strong legacy he created.
Monica Rambeau was the first woman to take the name Captain Marvel. Her powers are markedly different from those of her predecessors. Instead of being part- or full-blooded Kree, she was hit by an energy weapon that granted her the ability to transform into anything on the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma rays to radio waves.
Monica's costume is also quite a departure from previous Marvel looks. The large wing-like sleeves are the epitome of ‘80s cheese, and the black-and-white color scheme is very striking. But Monica did keep a small connection to the other Marvels. Specifically, she, too, wears a stylized starburst on her chest.
Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers edition, was a recurring character on Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, which aired from 2010 to 2013. Her look here borrows quite a lot from the second costume she wore in the comics: the red-and-black bathing suit with that choking hazard of a scarf.
The main differences are in the hair and the shoes. Animated Ms. Marvel has longer hair without the '70s flip to it, and her boots are solid black thigh-highs rather than the shorter, red-trimmed boots she originally wore. Other than that, both costume and heroine are very much the same: stubborn, commanding, ridiculously strong, and not to be trifled with.
After the death of the original Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau figured the name was up for grabs and snagged it for herself. But Mar-Vell’s son, Genis-Vell, had different ideas. He believed that his father's legacy should fall to him. Monica agreed to step aside, taking the name Photon instead, while Genis-Vell became the new Captain Marvel.
Genis-Vell's costume is very similar to his father’s, but with several noticeable changes. His version has much more black in it, the black accents having been extended to cover his head and legs. It’s also very sparkly, with star fields covering the black parts. It's an interesting twist on a classic design.
Most of Carol's costumes, though not all bad, have been a bit revealing. Even her Warbird and Binary outfits tended towards the skimpy side. That changed recently when Carol finally became Captain Marvel as opposed to Ms. Marvel. Presumably, she figured such a prestigious name warranted a prestigious new costume.
This outfit is quite a departure from Carol's previous ones. It's mainly blue and, in place of the traditional black mask, features a retractable red helmet for when she's in battle or flying in space. But it is still unquestionably a Marvel costume, with the familiar starburst pattern and even the scarf repurposed as a sash.
Kamala Khan is the latest heroine to use the moniker Ms. Marvel. At first she fought crime by shapeshifting into Carol Danvers. But as she came into her own as a hero, Kamala switched over to a costume that was unique to her and her alone.
As we mentioned earlier, Kamala made her own costume out of a burkini. She then added some gold trim and the lightning bolt insignia herself with yellow paint. Kamala's costume has the same scarf as do some of Carol's early looks, but it works better here. On Carol, the scarf always looked sort of random. On Kamala, it fits right in with the rest of her look.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe tends to adapt heroes’ costumes into more ‘realistic’ versions of what we see on the page. Sometimes this is as simple as giving Captain America a helmet with painted wings rather than actual wings. And sometimes it is as drastic as giving the Scarlet Witch a red jacket and calling it a day.
With Captain Marvel, who is set to make her cinematic debut next year, the MCU leaned more in favor of light changes. As such, her costume closely resembles the blue (or Kree green as seen in set photos) bodysuit featured elsewhere on this list. And that is most definitely a good thing.
This is one of Carol's best-remembered looks. She first wore it as Ms. Marvel, including during her first, brief stint with the Avengers. Then, years after giving it up along with her Ms. Marvel identity, she pulled it out of mothballs to wear as Warbird once her Binary powers faded. It has also been adapted for Carol's appearances in Mini Marvels and The Super Hero Squad Show.
The black-and-yellow has fallen out of favor in recent years, with Carol Danvers moving on to less revealing attire and Kamala Khan going in an altogether new direction. But there's just something about this simple, eye-catching design that, once seen, is utterly unforgettable.