Carol Danvers isn't the first superhero to bear the name Captain Marvel, but she has certainly become the greatest to do so. She debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 in 1968 as a non-powered supporting character to Marvel's first Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell. Carol wouldn't stay non-powered for long, though. In 1977, an accident turned Carol into a Kree/human hybrid. This granted her many of the same powers that Mar-Vell had, and Carol used them as the hero called Ms. Marvel. It would take years for her to accept that she'd earned the right to the title of Captain. In the meantime, she lost her powers, got some cooler ones, lost those too, fought powerless for a while, and then got her original powers back. And now, finally, she is getting her own movie.
Captain Marvel hits theaters in the U.S. on March 8. After that, she's slated to join the fight against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame this April. So we still have plenty of time to theorize about what this movie has in store for us and how Captain Marvel will fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She will certainly be one of the most powerful heroes the MCU has ever seen. Nick Fury wouldn't have paged her for help against a heavy hitter like Thanos if she wasn't packing a whole lot of heat herself. Like anyone else, Captain Marvel has her flaws, and these just might be enough to give her opponents an advantage over her. What are the strengths that make her great and the flaws that hold her back? Scroll down to find out!
19 STRENGTH: HIGH ENERGY
Some of the most iconic images from the Captain Marvel trailers show Carol glowing gold and taking out alien ships with energy blasts. That's her signature power: the ability to absorb and shoot energy. Remember how cool it was to watch Black Panther's suit absorb his enemy's energy attacks and then shoot it back at them? Captain Marvel can do that, too, but with her whole body.
Captain Marvel's photon blasts are tough enough to blast through just about everything, from energy shields to good old-fashioned walls. They probably do have an upper limit, but most of her opponents aren't likely to live long enough to discover it.
18 WEAKNESS: CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM NOT WELCOME
When you're one of the most powerful beings in the universe, it can be hard to take criticism, especially when you have a whole passel of self-esteem issues buried under all the power. Sure enough, Carol has a history of reacting very badly when she feels like she's been backed into a corner.
When Iron Man first confronted her about her alcoholism, Carol refused to listen until after she'd done a great deal of damage to public property, her friends and herself. More recently, Captain Marvel was criticized for using a precog named Ulysses Cain to stop crimes before they happened. The quarreling got so bad that that storyline was even titled Civil War II.
17 STRENGTH: THE POWER SMORGASBORD
Carol's energy powers are her flashiest ability, but she has a wide variety of seriously impressive superpowers. For example, she has enhanced strength and speed, as well as the ability to fly. She also heals faster than a normal human and can survive injuries that would pose issues for just about any other living being.
In addition, Captain Marvel has had some other, more esoteric, powers throughout her long history in comics. One of her strangest yet most useful superpowers is her "cosmic awareness," which is an ability in the same vain as precognition and basically allows her to subconsciously predict her opponent's next move. It's not yet clear whether she will have this power in the MCU.
16 WEAKNESS: WHO AM I AGAIN?
As we've seen in the trailers, while Carol has spent the past few years in space, she was born on Earth. An accident wiped away all knowledge of her identity and her past, leaving her a blank slate for the Kree to fill as they saw fit. This may distress or distract Carol enough to cost her a battle or two.
How do we know this? Because people have messed with Carol's memories before. In the comics, the future X-Man Rogue accidentally stole Carol's memories and powers. Carol did get her memories back, but she no longer had any emotional attachment to them; they may as well have been someone else's memories. It took her a long time to fully recover from that.
15 STRENGTH: GREAT SUPPORT(ING CHARACTERS)
A hero is only as good as their ground crew. Every superhero has a small band of trustworthy friends and allies who guard their secret identities and provide critical information, assistance and emotional support. Captain Marvel is no different.
In addition to MCU stalwarts like Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, pre-superhero Carol had the support and friendship of Maria Rambeau, a fellow Air Force pilot. Maria's appearance hints at a future role for her daughter, Monica Rambeau, the first woman to become Captain Marvel in the comics. And then, of course, there is Goose the cat, who will surely prove invaluable in all sorts of ways.
14 WEAKNESS: STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND
Humans are an odd species, but most superheroes know that. Either they are humans themselves, or they've lived among humans long enough that they're aware of how humanity works. Captain Marvel, however, has been away from Earth for a long time, and it's unclear just how much she remembers about her home planet.
Now that Carol has to fight on and around Earth, her unfamiliarity with human customs, behavior and eccentricities— not to mention whatever technological advances have been made in her absence— might come back to bite her. Hopefully, Nick Fury can help guide her through this strange new world.
13 STRENGTH: AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL
Nick Fury first showed up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe via cameos. He flitted from movie to movie, inviting different heroes to join a special project of his called the "Avengers Initiative." This, as we all now know, was an effort to bring together extraordinary people to take on extraordinary threats.
What viewers didn't realize at the time was that Fury didn't pull the idea of superheroes protecting the planet out of nowhere. He worked closely with Captain Marvel during the Skrull invasion in Captain Marvel, and it seems likely that this adventure led him to conceive of the Avengers Initiative in the first place.
12 WEAKNESS: THE VULCAN DILEMMA
If there's one thing we've learned from Star Trek, it's that logic is a good and important aspect of making the right decision... within reason. Depending solely on cold, hard logic while ignoring basic compassion and sympathy is a sure recipe for disaster. And it's a disaster that Captain Marvel might just have to contend with since the Kree have tried to teach her to be just such a detached, logical soldier.
Captain Marvel will probably not be as empathetic as she should be, at least not at first. She will likely have to learn how to balance between logic and good ol' human emotion.
11 STRENGTH: THAT'S CORPORAL MARVEL TO YOU
Unlike a lot of super-folk who have the word "captain" in their names, Carol Danvers actually earned that title. She worked her way up the ranks within the Air Force and, in the comics, she also served with NASA and the Department of Defense.
More importantly, having spent so long as part of the military— both the American military and the Kree military— Captain Marvel has surely acquired many useful skills, including physical discipline and the ability to perform well under pressure. And what do you know? Those are exactly the talents that a superhero needs as well.
10 WEAKNESS: TEMPER, TEMPER
While her Kree side is unemotional, Carol's human side is a lot more, well, human. She is hot-headed and frequently ready to pick a fight. One trailer shows her glaring up at her unnamed mentor, fist aglow. Her mentor has to remind her to "control it."
Captain Marvel also seems to be an impulsive sort. In another trailer, Carol blasts a hole in an innocent jukebox just to prove to Nick Fury that she's not a Skrull. A short fuse and a tendency to act without thinking are not exactly qualities you want in someone as powerful as Captain Marvel.
9 STRENGTH: HARD TRAVELING HERO
While alien visitors are old hat in the MCU by now, back when Captain Marvel is set, most earthlings had no idea that they weren't alone in the universe. That's probably why the Skrulls decided to invade in the first place: they knew humanity would be easy pickings. But they didn't count on Captain Marvel.
During her time with the space-faring Kree, Carol has surely learned plenty about the many alien races who populate this part of the universe. At any rate, she knows a heck of a lot more than the humans she ultimately decides she must protect. Her expertise in such matters might just be what saves us come Endgame.
8 WEAKNESS: LIKE TEACHER, LIKE STUDENT
One of the big mysteries still surrounding Captain Marvel is the identity of her Kree mentor, played by Jude Law. Who is this guy? Is he Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel who inspired Carol to become a hero? Is he Yon-Rogg, the Kree colonel whose betrayal caused Mar-Vell to become Earth's protector in the first place? Or is he another character entirely?
One thing we do know: Carol's mentor is staunchly loyal to the Kree. It seems likely that he at least tried to instill his own patriotism into his student, and that he won't react well to anyone criticizing the glorious Kree empire.
7 STRENGTH: SKRULL SENSE
One of the most talked-about moments in the trailer is the scene where a sweet old lady smiles at Captain Marvel, only to receive a slug in the jaw in return. While most viewers guessed pretty quickly that something more was going on here, that's all it was: a guess. We didn't get confirmation until later that the woman was really a disguised Skrull.
Captain Marvel, however, does not guess. She can somehow tell the difference between a real human being and a shape-shifted Skrull. It's not clear how she does this. Is it something all Kree can do? Or does her already remarkable suit contain a sensor that tells her if she's looking at a Skrull or a human?
6 WEAKNESS: NOT A TEAM PLAYER
Captain Marvel achieved most of her greatest victories as a solo hero or in small-scale team-ups, not as part of a big team. Her first two stints with the Avengers ended horribly, with Carol herself enduring the most. While she clearly can get along with others when necessary, as evidenced by her successful military career, Carol is very headstrong and isn't always willing to compromise, even when she should.
Then again, Nick Fury famously wrote off Iron Man as being unable to work with a team, but Iron Man ended up joining the group and saving the world in The Avengers anyway. Maybe Captain Marvel will do the same.
5 STRENGTH: HER SUIT
The Kree, and Captain Marvel in particular, have many powers that humans would consider out of this world. But for all their amazing abilities, they still can't breathe in space. They're not Superman, after all. So the Kree army has retractable face masks built into their suits. This provides breathable air as they fly and fight through space.
Plus, their suits just look really cool. Carol starts out in the green and silver suit that all Kree officers wear. Later on, probably as her allegiance shifts from the Kree to Earth, she gets a more familiar color scheme: blue, red, and gold. They're both pretty marvel-ous.
4 WEAKNESS: THERE'S ALWAYS SOMEONE BIGGER
Captain Marvel may have godlike powers, but she's not actually a god. This would put her at a disadvantage against such ridiculously overpowered villains like Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet. It's hard to see her faring much better against the Gauntlet than the combined might of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
In the comics, not long after he was brought back to life, Mar-Vell sacrificed himself by allowing the nigh-unbeatable Phoenix Force to defeat him again. While Mar-Vell let this happen, it does demonstrate that there are beings out there powerful enough to destroy even an elite Kree warrior.
3 STRENGTH: THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
Captain Marvel is set in 1995, well before most of the other films in the MCU. Sure, S.H.I.E.L.D. is still around, as is another governmental acronym, P.E.G.A.S.U.S. But since when have such organizations ever proven sufficient against an alien invasion? No, what we really need is a superhero.
Unfortunately for Earth, the 1990s was completely devoid of superheroes. Thor was in Asgard being a royal brat, Captain America was snoozing in the Arctic, and Tony Stark was off getting drunk and annoying Aldrich Killian onto the road of super-villainy. That leaves Captain Marvel as Earth's best, if not only, defense against the Skrulls.
2 STRENGTH: COOL RIDE
The Avengers' signature mode of transportation is the Quinjet, a snazzy plane that takes their non-powered members wherever they need to go. And since Carol is an expert pilot, of course she has to have a fancy set of wings of her own. The trailers show Carol spending a lot of time around planes, both before and after becoming a Kree warrior-hero.
We now know that Captain Marvel flew a Quinjet well before the Avengers were a gleam in Fury's eye. But hers has some special features that even the present-day models lack. Specifically, in one scene she is clearly piloting the Quinjet into space.
1 WEAKNESS: THE KREE GIVETH...
The trailers show that Carol receives at least some of her powers via alien experimentation. This is reminiscent of a storyline in Uncanny X-Men where Carol, who is no longer Ms. Marvel at this point, is snatched away by an alien race called the Brood. The Brood's experiments give Carol greater power than ever before. She begins calling herself Binary and returns to being a superhero.
But these powers did not last forever. Carol lost her Binary powers after overextending them on yet another world-saving mission. Will the powers given to her by the Kree prove just as exhaustible? Could the Kree even take them away on purpose if she angers them enough? We'll find out once Captain Marvel hits theaters this March.