Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, was originally supposed to appear in Jessica Jones season 3 - and potentially even as a villain. It's easy to forget that Marvel's Jessica Jones wasn't originally intended to be part of the Marvel Netflix slate. Showrunner Melissa Rosenberg was first brought on board for the project back in 2010, when Marvel planned it to air on ABC in fall 2011.
There have only been a few comments about Rosenberg's first drafts, but the little that's been said suggests the show didn't change much. Rosenberg was drawn to Jessica Jones because it starred a complex female protagonist with a biting sense of humor, and at San Diego Comic-Con 2011 Marvel Television boss Jeph Loeb revealed the plot would be based on Brian Bendis' popular Alias comic book series. "It’s about a failed superhero who is rebuilding her life as a private detective in New York City," he revealed, and told eager fans that the series would also feature Luke Cage. Plans changed when ABC passed on Jessica Jones, and the series ultimately became part of the Marvel Netflix deal.
There was one other significant change over the years, though. Rosenberg's original drafts featured Carol Danvers, Jessica Jones' best friend in the comics. And she may not have been a hero at all.
Jessica Jones Almost Featured Carol Danvers - But Not As Captain Marvel
Marvel has always been very open about the fact they planned Carol Danvers to be part of Jessica Jones; in fact, Loeb even mentioned it at SDCC 2011. "Back when it was at ABC Network, I did use Carol Danvers," Rosenberg confirmed back when Jessica Jones premiered back in 2015. "But between then and when it ended up on Netflix, you know, the MCU shifted, and it also shifted away from the universe in the [comic] book. So in the book, the powers are very out in the open and the themes of that are about ‘the other,’ and in the cinematic universe that’s not the mythology. So there was a lot that I had to move away from, just in terms of sheer plot, and Carol Danvers got her own movie." It's not hard to reconstruct Carol Danvers' role, either; in the comics she's Jessica's closest friend and confidant, so Rosenberg clearly just swapped her for Hellcat. She even signified that with an amusing Captain Marvel Easter egg in Jessica Jones season 3.
It's important to place this in context, though, because the Carol Danvers of 2010 was very different to the Captain Marvel of 2019. In fact, back then Carol called herself Ms. Marvel, and her costume was essentially a black swimsuit with a red sash. Marvel Comics had spent years trying to position Carol Danvers as Marvel's leading lady, with a tremendous ongoing series by Brian Reed. Unfortunately, the sales just weren't there; that's probably why, back in 2010, Marvel Studios was willing to pass Carol Danvers down to Marvel Television rather than consider bringing her to the big screen.
In 2012, Marvel Senior Editor Stephen Wacker convinced the reluctant powers-that-be in Marvel Comics that it was time for Ms. Marvel to step up, becoming Captain Marvel. Kelly Sue DeConnick came on board as writer of a brand new Captain Marvel series, and she got artist Jamie McKelvie to create a very different costume; McKelvie tried to design an outfit that was a lot more functional, inspired by Carol's military background. DeConnick really believed in the new take, to the point where she paid for marketing out of her own pocket, and her faith proved justified. Captain Marvel was a hit, and within just two years Marvel Studios had publicly announced Captain Marvel as part of their Phase 3 slate. That's presumably when Rosenberg was forced to write Carol Danvers out of her Jessica Jones script.
Reconstructing Carol Danvers' Role In Jessica Jones
But what would Carol Danvers' role have actually been in Jessica Jones? In order to try to reconstruct her role, it's necessary to dig a little bit deeper into Carol's comic book history. The truth is that the Captain Marvel movie offered a sanitized version of Carol Danvers, one lacking some of the complexity seen in the comics. Although Carol's background is in the security services, her career path has taken a lot of twists and turns; in fact, at one point she worked as a magazine editor for J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle. She was also a recovering alcoholic, who had turned to the bottle in order to deal with the emotional trauma she'd suffered at the hands of the X-Man Rogue.
Carol Danvers isn't the only alcoholic whose story has been brushed under the carpet for the MCU. One of Iron Man's most famous stories is "Demon in a Bottle," in which Tony Stark struggled with alcoholism as well; there's a subtle nod to that arc in Iron Man 2, but in general Disney feared they couldn't go too far down that path without making him unlikable to general audiences. Still, the comic book version of Stark soon recognized shadows of his own behavior in Ms. Marvel. Iron Man confronted Carol about the issue in Kurt Busiek's Iron Man #7, but she insisted that her superhuman metabolism just burned the alcohol right off. Disturbingly, Carol began operating as a superhero while under the influence of alcohol, and it wasn't until she accidentally knocked a plane out of the sky that Ms. Marvel admitted she had a problem.
Given this backstory, it's really not difficult to deduce what happened in Jessica Jones. Rosenberg simply swapped characters a little, incorporating Trish Walker into her story in almost exactly the same role she'd intended Carol Danvers to occupy. Indeed, the Trish Walker of Jessica Jones has absolutely no similarities to the comic book version, while her personality is very much reminiscent of the alcoholic/media mogul iteration of Carol. Presumably, then, Rosenberg introduced Carol as a non-powered friend for Jessica, who became addicted to the idea of becoming a superhero and ultimately turned into the season 3 villain. That would have actually fit a little better in thematic terms because Carol would have become a twisted mirror image of Jessica, complete with drinking problem and - most likely - a very similar powerset.
Captain Marvel's Story Worked Out For The Better
In truth, the Marvel Netflix version of Carol Danvers would simply be a waste of her potential. Marvel Comics had intuitively known that there were seeds of greatness in the character; that was why they spent most of the early-to-mid 2000s attempting to work out how to turn her into their next big thing. It took Stephen Wacker, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Jamie McKelvie to unlock that potential, and from there Carol was destined for far greater things than the third-season villain of even one of Marvel's best TV shows. Her solo movie grossed over $1 billion in the global box office, and as Captain Marvel, Carol is positioned at the forefront of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Meanwhile, Jessica Jones benefited from this as well. That mirror image trope may be an effective one in superhero films and TV shows, but it's become overused. It's frankly much more interesting to see superheroes and super-villains mismatched in terms of their powersets, and Jessica Jones season 3 exploited that conceit pretty effectively. It's fascinating to imagine what could have been - but what we got was far better.