WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
Carol Danvers has had a storied comic book career en route to becoming the Captain Marvel we know today. She's currently an alpha leader on the Avengers and has played key roles in events like Civil War II, even taking down Thanos himself. And though she's a newcomer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she's being positioned there as the strongest Avenger around.
But before we got to that heavy-hitter's incarnation, let's look back at the various monikers Carol took on in the books, and compare how her power-set varied in this journey towards becoming one of the key members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes across all mediums.
In the Comics
Created in 1968 by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, Carol gained her powers due to the explosion of a Kree device known as the "Psyche-Magnetron." This caused Danvers' genetic structure to meld with the original Captain Mar-Vell's, turning her into a human-Kree hybrid. She took on the name of Ms. Marvel and boasted superhuman strength, endurance, stamina, physical durability, a resistance to toxins and a limited precognitive "seventh sense." Basically, she was the ideal human/Kree specimen, and a near-perfect soldier.
In the '80s, Carol would end up having most of her powers absorbed by the X-Man, Rogue, before eventually being kidnapped and experimented upon by the alien species called the Brood. She'd emerge as a new hero, Binary, and was now able to harness the energy of a white hole, rendering her capable of generating the power of a star. This allowed her to control heat, the electromagnetic spectrum and gravity. On top of all that, she could also travel at light speed travel and survive in the vacuum of space without a mask or suit.
Eventually, her Binary abilities were reduced to a smaller scale and she went under the guise of Warbird for a bit. She still had some cosmic powers, such as photon blasts and energy absorption, but it wasn't until 2006's Civil War that she became a prominent hero once again. In the massive event, Carol sided with Iron Man, and would go on to exhibit her original powers, as well as her Binary abilities, leading to the publisher eventually rebranding her as the new Captain Marvel.
Now, she's stronger and faster than ever, with her energy manipulation, absorption, explosive blasts and invulnerability truly making her a power player able to tussle with the likes of the Mad Titan, Doctor Doom and Galactus himself.
In the MCU
Carol's (Brie Larson) power-up on screen is somewhat similar to her comic book origin as a Kree device does explode and bathe her in cosmic radiation, though in this case it's the energy harnessed from the Tesseract, aka the Space Stone. She doesn't fuse with Mar-Vell's DNA, but does require a transfusion from Jude Law's Yon-Rogg.
This transfusion, however, doesn't grant her any cosmic upgrades; the Tesseract's energy is all she needs to become a living, breathing Infinity Stone and a true equalizer to Josh Brolin's Thanos. Carol is imbued with the powers such as photon blasts, light-speed flight, durability and invulnerability. By the end of the film, she's a galactic goddess who can fly through space without any external apparatus, and her energy blasts are so powerful, she can take down a Kree armada by herself.
What's most intriguing is that she truly embodies all the powers of the Space Stone. This is evident in the movie's mid-credits sequence as she teleports in to the New Avengers Compound in the blink of an eye from across the galaxy. We saw the Tesseract display this power as it shot Red Skull from Earth to Vormir in Captain America: The First Avenger, though it remains to seen in Avengers: Endgame whether the stone has bestowed any new powers we didn't even know it had in the first place. If she's mastered bending the space-time continuum the way we think she has, apart from teleportation, Carol may now be able to traverse the timestream, undo Thanos' snap and restore life to the cosmos.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as Yon-Rogg, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, McKenna Grace as a young Carol Danvers and Annette Bening as the Supreme Intelligence. The movie is in theaters now.