By: BRENDAN MCDANIEL
WARNING: The following column may or may not contain spoilers for the upcoming Captain Marvel (2019). I say “may or may not” because… this is a weird one.
The end of 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” gave a critical teaser for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. In the closing minutes, Nick Fury is seen observing the destruction caused by intergalactic monster Thanos and putting a plan into action to save the universe at large. He is seen making a phone call to the superheroine Captain Marvel, with the implication being that she would be leading the Avengers against Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame,” and possibly going forwards given that Captain America and Iron Man will be departing from the series.
I’d love for this column to be a short guide to who Captain Marvel is and why she gets to lead the Avengers, but it’s gonna be rough. “Captain Marvel” represents one of the longest and most convoluted stories in comics history and I’ve only got 750 words to cover it in. So here’s what we’ll do; first, I’ll stick only to information that will likely be relevant to Friday’s film. The whole story is a lot more fun, but there’s no time. Second, whenever I hit a topic that I don’t have time to explain, I will place it inside *asterisks.* Personally, I recommend checking out The Escapist’s “The Big Picture” series for more on those if you’re interested. Here we go.
The character to become Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel first appeared in 1967’s “Marvel Super-Heroes #12,” *though this was not the first use of the Captain Marvel name.* He was Mar-Vell, an officer of the alien race called the Kree who crash-landed on Earth, and was assumed to be a superhero based on his name “Captain Marvel,” and the absurd outfit he was wearing. This is not our Captain Marvel, but the trailers imply that it’s his backstory that Brie Larson will be getting, save for actually being Mar-Vell. He doesn’t seem like he’ll be important beyond backstory. Larson’s Captain is Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot and social rights activist who obtains Mar-Vell’s abilities after being caught in an explosion from Kree technology. Carol Danvers would go on to become the superhero, Ms. Marvel.
Although the film is called “Captain Marvel,” the character Brie Larson will be portraying is actually more aligned with Ms. Marvel. The Captain Marvel of the comics was never terribly popular with audiences, *but Marvel had to keep running the line of books in order to continue owning the character’s name.* Ms. Marvel, *despite being in one of the most reviled comic stories ever written,* was well liked, to the point where she would regularly outsell her male counterpart by a wide margin. Interestingly, it seems that the film will be using Captain Marvel’s suit and name for what is essentially the Ms. Marvel character.
Much like the character herself, the trailers suggest that the film’s plot will be something produced solely for the film, as opposed to a direct adaptation of a comic storyline. The film will be set in the 1990s, with Captain Marvel meeting with a young Nick Fury. The implication here is that the Captain Marvel of the MCU will have played some larger part in the development of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers initiative. Given that she hasn’t been established as a part of the universe previously, I would say there are two likely possibilities for how Captain Marvel will end before “Avengers: Endgame” begins.
First, she will fight the supervillain in her story, defeat it, and something will happen between her and Nick Fury that causes her to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. behind, and her role in “Endgame” will involve her deciding to change or rejoin the Avengers. Second, Captain Marvel might be revealed to have been with the Avengers the whole time, and have been fighting some greater threat than Thanos out in space only to be called back after he destroyed half the universe. Either way, having been perhaps the first hero in what would become the Avengers and/or being involved in S.H.I.E.L.D. in its early stages would put the character in a good position to lead the franchise going forward.