‘Cap­tain Marvel’: A comic-book char­ac­ter’s long jour­ney to film

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Carolina Living - BY TRACY BROWN Los An­ge­les Times

Carol Dan­vers did not have any su­per­pow­ers when she made her Marvel Comics de­but, but she was al­ways meant to be a star.

She’ll soon be soar­ing on the big screen in “Cap­tain Marvel,” out Fri­day, as the first fe­male su­per­hero to head­line her own movie in the Marvel Cine­matic Uni­verse. But while Brie Lar­son’s por­trayal may serve as Carol’s in­tro­duc­tion to film au­di­ences, she has had a long comic book jour­ney lead­ing up to this live­ac­tion de­but.

Since her first ap­pear­ance as the se­cu­rity chief of NASA’s Kennedy Space Cen­ter over 50 years ago, Carol has gained pow­ers, trav­eled through space, led the Avengers, bat­tled along­side the X-Men, lost her mem­o­ries and helped save the world – all be­fore even as­sum­ing the man­tle of Cap­tain Marvel.

Comic-book Carol grew up with two brothers in Bos­ton and has com­pli­cated feel­ings re­gard­ing her fa­ther, who re­fused to see girls and boys as equals. When he wouldn’t pay for her to go to col­lege, she en­listed in the Air Force to fund her ed­u­ca­tion and be­came a skilled pi­lot.

A num­ber of comic book cre­ators had a hand in shap­ing Carol and her story over the years, but the writer who has ar­guably had the great­est ef­fect on her legacy so far is Kelly Sue DeCon­nick.

When DeCon­nick launched her “Cap­tain Marvel” run in 2012 with artist Dex­ter Soy, she de­scribed Carol as “an in­cred­i­bly driven in­di­vid­ual.”

“The sin­gle line that I use for her off the top of my head is: Crack­er­jack pi­lot races to prove dead daddy wrong,” DeCon­nick told The Los An­ge­les Times in 2012. “She’s al­ways been try­ing to prove to her dad that she’s wor­thy. But her dad’s gone now, so it’s not a thing that she’s ever go­ing to be able to get clo­sure on.”

It was un­der DeCon­nick’s watch that Carol claimed the name Cap­tain Marvel, and this fan-fa­vorite in­car­na­tion is what trans­formed her into a su­per­hero des­tined to be­come a house­hold name.

In­tro­duced in 1968’s “Marvel Su­per-Heroes” No. 13 by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, Carol was a NASA se­cu­rity chief keep­ing watch over an alien ro­bot when she meets Dr. Wal­ter Law­son – the hu­man al­ter ego as­sumed by un­der­cover Kree sol­dier Mar-Vell.

Dur­ing her ad­ven­tures with Mar-Vell, the first Cap­tain Marvel, the pair got caught up in the ex­plo­sion that de­stroyed an alien de­vice called the Psy­che-Mag­na­tron. But it wasn’t un­til years later when the “Ms. Marvel” series launched that Carol dis­cov­ered that the ex­po­sure to this de­vice gave her su­per­pow­ers.

It was long be­lieved that the blast grafted MarVell’s alien DNA onto Carol, al­ter­ing her ge­net­ics and turn­ing her into a half-Kree su­per­hu­man. But dur­ing the 2018 comic-book minis­eries “The Life of Cap­tain Marvel,” Carol’s mother was re­vealed to also be a for­mer un­der­cover Kree sol­dier.

Es­tab­lish­ing that Carol is half-Kree by birth means her pow­ers and po­ten­tial have al­ways been her own – pow­ers that in­clude flight, su­per­strength, en­hanced speed, in­creased re­silience and the abil­ity to ab­sorb and fire en­ergy blasts.

“She isn’t your av­er­age su­per-hero­ine,” “Ms. Marvel” No. 1 writer Ger- ry Con­way said of Carol in the 1977 is­sue. “Ms. Marvel … is in­flu­enced, to a great ex­tent, by the move to­wards women’s lib­er­a­tion. She is … her own per­son.”

Pro­claim­ing Carol and the “Ms. Marvel” series as in­ten­tion­ally fem­i­nist, how­ever, has not pro­tected her from prob­lem­atic de­pic­tions and sto­ry­lines.

One of the most con­tro­ver­sial was 1980’s in­fa­mous “The Avengers” No. 200. This is­sue saw Carol sud­denly (heav­ily) preg­nant with no rec­ol­lec­tion about how it hap­pened. It turned out she had been kid­napped, brain­washed and im­preg­nated with a ver­sion of her cap­tor.

If that wasn’t prob­lem­atic enough, after she gives birth she “will­ingly” leaves with her cap­tor back to his orig­i­nal di­men­sion, and her Avengers team­mates don’t bat an eye.

For­mer “Ms. Marvel” writer Chris Clare­mont later at­tempted to rec­tify some of the dam­age by hav­ing Carol call out the Avengers and cut ties with the team.

Los­ing her pow­ers and mem­o­ries in an en­counter with Rogue brought Carol to Pro­fes­sor Xavier and the X-Men. There she was able to re­gain her mem­o­ries but not the emo­tions at­tached to them.

1982’s “Un­canny XMen” No. 164 saw Carol tap into some new cos­mic-level en­ergy-wield­ing pow­ers and take the new name Bi­nary.

After some ad­ven­tures in space, Carol’s pow­ers re­turn to those that she had ini­tially as Ms. Marvel. So when she re­joins the Avengers in 1998’s “Avengers” No. 4, Carol switches to an­other new code name: War­bird.

She even­tu­ally drops War­bird and goes back to us­ing Ms. Marvel be­fore even­tu­ally claim­ing Cap­tain Marvel.

Marvel Stu­dios

Brie Lar­son stars in “Cap­tain Marvel.”

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