The Evolution of Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers' Comic Costume

Marvel Comics is preparing to celebrate Carol Danvers's 50th anniversary in style, with a thrilling range of variant covers. These will explore Carol's rich comic book history, showcasing her rise from a secondary character to a superhero in her own right.

The character of Carol Danvers was introduced back in March 1968. Back then, Carol was an officer in the United States Air Force, an ally of Kree superhero Mar-Vell. She was caught in the explosion of an alien device, and her body was flooded with Kree radiation. In June 1977, Gerry Conway revealed that this energy had transformed her genetic structure, granting Carol phenomenal powers. She took up the identity of "Ms. Marvel," and became one of Marvel's most prominent female superheroes.

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Over the decades, Carol has played a variety of roles - from Avenger to global defender, from love interest to leader. She's also worn a wide range of different costumes, sometimes less than flattering. Ms. Marvel's original design prompted one fan to write in to Marvel:

"Question: where is a woman who wears long sleeves, gloves, high boots and a scarf (winter wear), and at the same time has a bare back, belly, and legs? The Arctic equator? That costume requires a few alterations."

Leaving aside the costume design, Ms. Marvel's book was actually pretty revolutionary for its time. The use of the word "Ms." was a deliberate choice, giving the book a progressive edge. The costume was gradually improved, and a subtly redesigned version will be featured on The Immortal Hulk #3. It's been drawn by Mahmud Asrar, with colors by Edgar Delgado.

This was the original Ms. Marvel, a high-flying superhero whose book was swiftly taken over by legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont. Claremont has a good reputation for writing female characters - he brought X-Men characters like Jean Grey and Storm to the forefront - and he had a blast with his Ms. Marvel run. Dave Cockrum did a redesign, essentially giving Ms. Marvel a "swimsuit" look that, while hardly less sexual, at least made a little more sense as a costume design! This costume will be featured on a variant for Doctor Strange #3, with art by Ema Lupacchino and colors by Jason Keith.

Carol would stick with that look for decades, and into the 2000s Marvel really tried to up her profile. In the aftermath of the "Civil War" event, they actually made her team leader of a group of Avengers. By 2010, Wizard Magazine was describing the character as "the House of Ideas' premier heroine."

It wasn't until 2012 that this really became true, though, when Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy reinvented Carol Danvers as the new Captain Marvel. DeConnick believed the character had real potential, and actually marketed the new Captain Marvel series herself. That led to the creation of the so-called "Carol Corps," a large group of fans who remain dedicated to the character. This costume design is the one expected to appear in the film, and will be featured on a variant cover for Thor #3. The art is by John Tyler Christopher.

Two other variant covers will celebrate Carol's Air Force background and her brief stint as a cosmic hero, under the codename Binary. The Air Force cover will accompany Avengers #4, and is by Kate Niemczyk, with colors by Morry Hollowell. The Binary cover will be a variant for Black Panther 3, and is by Paul Renaud.

Over the course of the last 50 years, Carol Danvers has become Marvel's most important female superhero. It's a true compliment that she will be the first female Marvel hero to headline her own solo MCU movie; she'll then play an important role in Avengers 4, with the Russo brothers admitting they loved working with the sheer scale of Captain Marvel's powers.

It's exciting to see Marvel celebrate Carol Danvers's 50th anniversary, and these variant covers are absolutely stunning. Collect them all this summer.

MORE: Captain Marvel's Many Different Comic Costumes

Source: Marvel Comics

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