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Superhero Origins: Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
As a young girl, she dreamt of becoming an astronaut and traveling to outer space; she got more than she bargained for. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers.

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As a young girl, she dreamt of becoming an astronaut and traveling to outer space; she got more than she bargained for. Welcome to and today we will explore the comic book origin of Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers.

Carol Danvers, a Boston-born United States Air Force Officer, had to go through decades worth of adventures (and misadventures) before assuming the mantle of Captain Marvel. Though they have varied over the years, Danvers’ powers as Captain Marvel include superhuman strength, stamina, reflexes, agility, and durability, as well as flight, energy absorption, and the ability to fire photon blasts from her hands.
Carol Danvers made her comic book debut in 1968’s Marvel Super-Heroes #13, but not as a hero. She was introduced as a secondary character, romantic interest and occasional damsel in distress in the stories of Mar-Vell, a member of the Kree warrior race and the original Captain Marvel.

To balance out these humble and distinctly outdated beginnings, more recent stories have expanded upon Danver’s early years, revealing her to have been feisty, ambitious and eager to prove herself equal if not better than the boys from a young age. Her entry into service as an Air Force pilot saw her flying experimental aircrafts, surviving being captured and tortured, and going on missions that brought her into contact with future heroes the likes of Logan and Ben Grimm.

Her remarkable accomplishments drew the attention of higher-ups, which is how she would wind up working with NASA as a security officer and meeting and befriending Captain Marvel. Though she largely played the role of damsel in distress for Mar-Vell to save (an unfortunate by-product of the times), her involvement in his adventures would eventually result in her gaining her powers, and becoming a superhero in her own right.

In 1969’s Captain Marvel #18, the villainous Yon-Rogg, another Kree who harbored a deep hatred for Mar-Vell, took a kidnapped Carol Danvers to an abandoned Kree Outpost to use her as bait for Captain Marvel. Here, he used illegal Kree technology, the Psyche-Magnetron, to create a Mandroid to do battle with the hero. Though Mar-Vell came out of the conflict victorious, the Psyche-Magnetron was damaged and subsequently exploded. Carol was injured in the conflict but apparently recovered. The full extent of the Psyche-Magnetron’s effects on her, however, wouldn’t become apparent for another 8 years.

In 1977, Ms. Marvel made her debut. Though Carol Danvers didn’t know it at the time, she and the new heroine were one and the same. After a falling out with NASA and a bestselling book, she went into journalism, unaware that the Psyche-Magnatron had fundamentally changed her, and that she was having blackouts, during which she would fight crime with her incredible new abilities. Thankfully, she would eventually reconcile these two aspects of her identity, and in the years to follow, Danvers would go on to become a successful hero, even joining the Avengers.

Unfortunately, despite her success and her remarkable abilities, the character of Carol Danvers continued to get mistreated. Shortly after joining the Avengers, she would again be made into the victim in a much maligned and highly controversial storyline, now commonly labeled “The Rape of Ms. Marvel”, in which she was brainwashed and impregnated by the villainous Marcus Immortus, a being who exists in a timeless limbo. Marcus essentially plucked Carol out of time itself and made it so she would become pregnant and give birth to him. It’s a super convoluted and strange plot line that basically boils down to Carol being sexually assaulted by a villain. The worst part is after his plan is revealed to the Avengers, Thor, Iron Man, and Hawkeye just let him take Carol back to Limbo. When Carol finally returned, she was understandably upset with her teammates for allowing her to be taken by a man who essentially admitted to already manipulating and exploiting her.

In her 12 years of publication up to that point, Carol Danvers had already gone through more than many characters do in their entire careers, but the road ahead of her to become Captain Marvel was still long and winding. After having her powers and memories stolen by Rogue, she became close with Charles Xavier, as he attempted to restore some of her lost memories. During her time with Charles and the X-Men, Carol underwent a dramatic change after being taken and experimented on by the alien race known as the Brood, becoming the cosmically-powered “Binary.”

Later, she would take the name “Warbird” and rejoin the Avengers, only to eventually return to the name Ms. Marvel. Like we said… it's a complicated history.

In 2012, Carol Danvers finally fulfilled her destiny, stepping into the role that she’d been sharing a history with since her 1968 debut. Around this time, she was reunited with her old friend Mar-Vell, whom the Kree had resurrected to help in defending the Kree Empire against the Phoenix Force. After Mar-Vell sacrificed himself, Carol took up his name to honor him, and ever since, has been protecting both earth and the cosmos as Captain Marvel.

From chronic damsel in distress to one of the most powerful, formidable and inspiring characters in the pantheon of Marvel heroes, Carol Danvers has certainly come a long way. And yet, we have every reason to believe that her greatest adventures are still yet to come!

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