Captain Marvel's Origin Story, Powers & Movie Changes Explained

Captain Marvel arrives in theaters this year, and Marvel Studios is banking on their first female-led superhero film to lead the way into the MCU's future as Phase 3 wraps up. The character’s popularity has increased over the last few years in the Marvel comic fandom, thanks to a stellar run by Kelly Sue DeConnick, and the time is ripe for Brie Larson to help catapult Carol Danvers and her alter ego into the mainstream.

Thanks to multiple trailers, including a recent extended look at Captain Marvel, audiences now know that the film's villains are the Skrulls, who are shape-shifting creatures who've come to Earth, and Captain Marvel is here to stop them. Of course, there's more to the story than just the villains, and since the character has a fairly convoluted history in the comics, and it will be a heavy task for directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck to streamline her origin story for casual fans and general moviegoers.

Related: Captain Marvel Movie: All The Villains Explained

Carol Danvers' journey from USAF personnel to a premier superhero of the Marvel Universe is marked of warring alien races, doomed mentors and love interests, not mention erratically changing power-sets, so the challenges in adapting the character for the MCU are not inconsiderable. Here's everything we know so far about how Captain Marvel will be changed from the comics, and what elements of the character will stay the same.

What is Captain Marvel’s Origin Story?

Captain Marvel Comic Cover

In the Marvel comic books of the late '60s, Carol Danvers was not the first to carry the mantle of Captain Marvel. That distinction belongs to space alien Mar-Vell, a member of the Kree Imperial Militia. Initially sent to observe Earth due to the human race’s preparations for space travel, Mar-Vell poses as scientist Dr. Walter Lawson, and begins to fall in love with security chief (and former USAF pilot) Carol Danvers. Ultimately turning against the Kree Supreme Intelligence’s devious plans for mankind, Mar-Vell - or Captain Marvel, as he later comes to be known - becomes a protector of Earth. That is, until he is sadly taken by cancer inflicted upon him by the villain Nitro in the seminal graphic novel The Death of Captain Marvel (1982).

Before his death, Mar-Vell had been engaged in a battle with an old superior officer/jealous love rival from the Kree military named Yon-Rogg (Jude Law could be playing either character in the upcoming movie, but currently all parties involved are keeping quiet on his character's name; the only thing that's known about him truly is that he's the leader of Captain Marvel's Starforce). Yon-Rogg had kidnapped Carol Danvers, and in the ensuing rescue by Mar-Vell, Danvers was subjected to radiation from a Kree machine, changing her DNA to become half-Kree. This caused her to gain powers similar to Mar-Vell’s, which she used to fight crime and villainy under the guise of Ms. Marvel. Soon after,  she joined the Avengers. She's also spent some time fighting alongside the X-Men, after the power-and-personality leeching then-villain Rogue absorbed all of her memories and powers.

Related: Why Captain Marvel Doesn't Age Between The 1990s & Avengers 4

In 2012, Carol finally accepted the mantle of Captain Marvel (following stints under code-names like Binary and Warbird), following a team-up against the Phoenix Force with a briefly resurrected Mar-Vell. Considering the Captain Marvel legacy and its significance to her life, she takes on the name with Captain America’s blessing, who assures her that Mar-Vell would want her to have the name. She embraced the role with aplomb, becoming one of the Marvel Universe’s premier heroes.

How the Captain Marvel Movie Has Changed Carol Danvers’ Origin

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel with Jude Law

Captain Marvel will open with a sidestep of the traditional origin story as usually witnessed in big screen superheroes. Carol will already have her powers, and is already a member of the Kree's Starforce, an elite military team. While the Captain Marvel movie may start off with Carol Danvers as part of the Starforce team, that doesn't mean her origin story won't be shown. In the comics, Starforce only ever came up against Captain Marvel when Monica Rambeau was carrying the mantle, and even then they appeared consistently as antagonists (largely during Operation: Galactic Storm). How exactly Danvers winds up on Hala as part of the team will likely be addressed in the movie, but for now all we know is that there's a deviation from Marvel comics continuity.

The Starforce team on-screen will be led by Jude Law’s currently unnamed Kree commander; early theories suggested Law would be playing Carol’s mentor, love interest, and predecessor Mar-Vell, but the notion that he's loyal to the once and future enemy of the Guardians of the Galaxy - Ronan the Accuser - suggests he might fit the more villainous mold of Yonn-Rogg. In either scenario, this element indicates that the on-screen Danvers will align to an extent with her comic book origin, in being closely tied to a Kree war hero and authority figure.

Starforce exists in the comic book canon as a vital military element of the Kree-Skrull War - a fan-favorite conflict that will be adapted for the storyline of the movie. The warlike Kree and the more clandestine, shape-shifting Skrulls have been at war for as long as either race can remember, and the movie appears to keep to the same template. Starforce in the comics has been comprised of characters such as Captain Atlas, Ultimus, Minn-Erva, and Korath the Pursuer, but only the latter two make an appearance as members in the movie that we know of (with Djimon Hounsou reprising his role as Korath from Guardians of the Galaxy, which is set almost 20 years after the events in Captain Marvel, and Gemma Chan (Humans) playing Minn-Erva). The team is described as the "SEAL Team Six of space" by directors Boden and Fleck, which is in-keeping with their comic book depiction.

In the movie, Captain Marvel will return to Earth at some point to combat the infiltration by the Skrulls. Led by Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos, who at some point will go undercover within SHIELD - which brings us in to contact with a young Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. The Skrulls being a part of Captain Marvel’s story either at her origin or later in her career as a costumed adventurer doesn’t fit with comics history, as she never played a part in the Kree-Skrull War. Her interaction with Skrulls didn’t occur until the Secret Invasion storyline of 2008, and even then it was as a team member of the New Avengers rather than any solo adventure. The fan theory that Marvel Studios is setting up their own Secret Invasion storyline for the next Phase is intriguing, however.

Page 2: Captain Marvel's Powers in the Comics and MCU

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Key Release Dates
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019
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