Captain Marvel: Marvel's Big Gamble
When Marvel announced that Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel was going to get her own movie in 2019 I was ecstatic. After the initial shock at a female hero (Brie Larson will play the Captain) getting her own movie I wondered how they would explain Captain Marvel and all the varying versions. I will give you some background on Danvers (Marvel’s movie choice for Captain Marvel) and the history behind this fantastic hero.
Captain Marvel was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 in 1967. The original Captain Marvel background was of an alien military officer of the Kree Imperial Militia who was sent to Earth as it is developing technology to travel into space. After growing tired of his superiors malicious intent and aligning himself with Earth he is branded a traitor by the Kree Empire and vows from then on to protect Earth from any threats. Notice how I used “he” and “his” this character was originally a man and looked very different then what you will see on-screen in a few years. One reason there have been so many Captain Marvels is the book didn’t sell well.
You might be confused as to why there is a Captain Marvel in both DC and Marvel . Well from 1940-1953 a company named Fawcett comics had the copyrights to the name Captain Marvel and produced books with their version of this hero. In a famous 1951 court ruling, DC (then known as National comics) argued that Captain Marvel had too close a resemblance to Superman. Having won their appeal Fawcett was forced to stop producing the comics. Taking advantage of the situation, Marvel capitalized after the copyright lapsed and debuted it’s 1967 version that Lee and Colan created. Sneaky of Marvel to do but they knew Fawcett had a winner with the character it just needed the right touch of their brain trust.
Growing up in Boston as the oldest child of three Carol Danvers grew up in a household where her father couldn’t accept the fact that woman could be equal to men. She would work as hard as her brothers and still could not receive the credit. Hard times hit the Danvers and when it came time for the kids to go to college Dad picked the middle son to go to college because of his bias against woman and the workforce. Carol graduated first in her class in high school but ended up taking a sales job. Upon turning 18 she joined the Air Force and turned her back on her father intending to be a pilot and earn her degree through the military. She quickly rose through the ranks at the Air Force class and was recruited into military intelligence and trained as a spy. After N.A.S.A. recruited her for the head of security position she had to resign from the military becoming the youngest ever to accept the position with N.A.S.A. This is where her life would change forever.
Carol Danvers, the 7th version of Captain Marvel, was created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan in March of 1968. I bet you’re wondering how Danvers could be the seventh version only a year later after creation of the character!! Well Danvers was originally created as an officer in the United States Air Force. She was a security chief of a restricted military base where she meets Dr. Walter Lawson the human alias of Kree hero Captain Marvel, same one I spoke of above. In an accident where Danvers is caught in an explosion of a Kree device after learning about Marvel she sustains serious injuries. Forgot about for years she returns in 1977 as Ms. Marvel. It was later explained that the energy exposure from the blast called the “Psyche-Magnetron”caused her genetic structure to meld with Captain Marvel’s turning her into a Human-Kree hybrid. The Psyche-Magnetron is a Kree weapon that possesses matter changing powers. It’s rays modify the genetics of the user to create a super powered machine. On Danvers it didn’t kill her like it would most because of her proximity to the original Captain Marvel. That fusion of energy was the perfect storm and quite the turn of events in her life from when her Dad wouldn’t accept her.
Ms.Marvel has a power level of 8, right on par with Spider Man and Captain America. She can absorb types of energy and use this to increase her strength to levels similar to that of Silver Surfer! She can physically exert herself at peak capacity for 24 hours before fatigue sets in and has speed on par with Supergirl. Her durability is on par with Luke Cage’s exterior. She is capable of flight and has a seventh sense I want to talk about as well. This sense is just like Silver Surfer’s. She can visually perceive all types of energy patterns and is instantly aware of any significant disruptions in space. That cosmic awareness is one of the coolest powers ever!! She can fire photonic blasts from her hands or fingertips. Her healing factor works like Deadpool’s.
The characterization of Ms. Marvel is that you see a parallel between her quest for identity and the modern woman’s quest for raised consciousness, self liberation and identity. Her original outfit came with much backlash from feminists because of how similar it was to color and scheme of her male counterpart but over the years it changed dramatically. Her original appearances portrayed her as a strong character but that changed over time. After giving her center stage in the story arc “House of M” Marvel lost the roots of the character a bit because sexy outfits usually sell with fan boys. Brian Reed is credited with getting Captain Marvel back on track and going back to what made the hero great.
When Marvel announced they were doing this movie I had hesitation about it. Not because I don’t think it will be good but because woman are raised to cross-identify with male characters simply because of the dearth of female protagonists in our culture. This makes it harder for them to relate to female characters so studios do less female roles and the cycle continues. Two previous comic book movies with lead females have been awful and bombed in Electra and Cat Woman. When the Hunger Games came along it changed the game drastically because of how much money it made. Just 30% of speaking roles go to females and only 15% protagonist roles go to woman. Marvel has done a great job with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) but there’s a lot left to be desired in terms of acceptance. Many critics see Black Widow as eye candy but if you take her out of The Avengers Movies it doesn’t work in my opinion. Without her success Marvel would never be making a Captain Marvel movie. Marvel have come a long way from when Stan Lee would pen articles in the back of comic books about feminism and diversity. While it doesn’t guarantee success the movie has a great chance to become a hit especially after a great opening trailer. The conundrum will be can Brie Larson be looked at as a great Captain Marvel instead of just an object of sex. The question will always remain though, will it make money? My answer is yes and this may surprise many fans but it might be the best Marvel movie yet.