Captain Marvel may be the most powerful superhero to appear in the MCU to date, but so far she's yet to have a weakness emerge. Could that be because it's at the center of her upcoming movie, with her being manipulated by Jude Law's mysterious character, the commander of the Kree Starforce?
Marvel Studios has finally begun the marketing push for next year's March superhero blockbuster, Captain Marvel. After months of silence, we've been given a behind-the-scenes first look that's introduced viewers to the MCU's version of the Skrulls, the Kree Starforce, and the alien warlord Talos. But it's also raised a lot of questions; just how did Carol Danvers get her powers in the MCU? Why is she allied with a Kree military unit consisting of characters who, in the comics, are all villains? And is Jude Law really playing the part of Mar-Vell, or does Marvel have something else in store?
With a Captain Marvel trailer still yet to appear, information is sparse right now, but by parsing the EW reveals we're beginning to get a sense of the full scope of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's MCU prequel. One of the most surprising is that it's possible Captain Marvel's greatest weakness is her own mind.
- This Page: Captain Marvel's Greatest Weakness
- Page 2: How Jude Law's Mysterious Character Fits Into This
- Page 3: What This Means for Captain Marvel and the MCU
Captain Marvel Has No Weaknesses (Yet)
According to Kevin Feige, Captain Marvel will be the most powerful hero in the MCU to date. "With Captain Marvel," he observed, "she is as powerful a character as we've ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she's introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we've ever had." Given this is a franchise that includes the likes of the mighty Thor, the incredible Hulk, and of course Thanos the Mad Titan, that's a pretty remarkable statement. Brie Larson has gone one further; "She's so strong," Larson observed, "She can move planets! So, to me, it's like how far can I go with this strength?" While it's possible Larson was engaging in hyperbole, even as a joke this observation gives a sense of the scale Captain Marvel operates at.
As exciting as this may be, it means Marvel is faced with the problems that DC traditionally wrestle with over Superman. How can the most powerful characters possibly be defeated? How can there be any sense of risk in an adventure featuring heroes who are essentially invincible? There are only two ways to handle characters like this; the first is that you introduce a plot device to act against them, an Achilles' Heel - the classic example being Kryptonite. The second and more dangerous route is that you simply introduce threats who are more powerful yet. The danger with this approach is that you can wind up indulging in what's sometimes called "power creep", where each villain's powers are greater than the one before, and the stories gradually become fantastical and unrelatable.
It's true that Marvel has stressed that Carol Danvers is a flawed hero. Speaking to EW, Brie Larson stressed that there's a conflict innate to Carol's identity, with the Kree and human parts of her working against one another. "You have this Kree part of her that’s unemotional, that is an amazing fighter and competitive," Larson explained. "Then there’s this human part of her that is flawed but is also the thing that she ends up leading by. It’s the thing that gets her in trouble, but it’s also the thing that makes her great. And those two sides warring against each other is what makes her her." The approach makes sense, and indeed is fairly traditional for Marvel - the comic book publisher is famous for its flawed heroes, and Marvel Studios has reproduced that on the big screen. But that's still not enough of a weakness to compensate for the enormously elevated power-levels. There needs to be something more.
Is Captain Marvel's Weakness Her Memories?
The solution may lie in the plot of Captain Marvel itself. Marvel has stressed that the film is no origin story; it will kick off with Carol already super-powered, serving as a member of the Kree Starforce. She'll learn that the Skrulls are making a move on Earth, and will return to her homeworld to investigate. While on Earth, by all accounts Carol will actually begin to discover secrets that lie in her own past; it seems something has been concealed from her, that there's a mystery at the heart of Captain Marvel's MCU origin. But why wouldn't Carol Danvers know her own backstory?
If we're going to look for answers, we should cast an eye to Kelly Sue DeConnick's popular Captain Marvel run. DeConnick is the writer who transformed Carol into an A-list hero in the comics; Marvel Studios has constantly stressed that her stories have informed the movie. DeConnick's run began in 2012, with the writer working with artist Jamie McKelvie to dramatically redesign Captain Marvel's costume. Significantly, the character's MCU costume is clearly based on McKelvie's designs.
One of DeConnick's central plots saw Captain Marvel discover that her phenomenal powers came at a physical cost. She revealed that exposure to Kree energy had created a third lobe in Carol's brain, one that was responsible for handling her powers. Unfortunately, excessive use of her abilities had led to Captain Marvel developing lesions on her brain. Carol began to suffer from debilitating headaches, and soon the symptoms escalated to the point that she was blacking out. The greatest strain upon Carol's physiology came from her power of flight, a cruel twist of fate given her love of flying. Naturally, Captain Marvel refused to back down, and when a crisis came about she used her powers regardless. It led to a devastating seizure, one that erased her memories.
This idea could tie the various plot threads together quite nicely. Imagine a scenario where the MCU version of Captain Marvel is tremendously powerful, but her powers come at a terrible price; they damage her mind and even caused the loss of her memories. That would give Carol Danvers a significant weakness, and also explain why she's unaware of her own backstory.
- 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 02, 2019