Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Gene Colan, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 13 in 1968. Nowadays, Danvers might be the most powerful superhero on Marvel’s roster, but her journey to the stars hasn’t been easy.
Danvers’ history is checkered due, primarily, to Marvel’s indecisiveness. In the Silver Age, Marvel writers couldn’t decide whether she should be a strong woman, a superhero in her own right, or a glorified damsel. As a result, fans were faced with some strange story arcs, some of which were pretty traumatic for Danvers and readers alike.
In spite of everything that’s happened to her, Carol Danvers never backs down from a fight. If that means standing up to J. Jonah Jameson when he tries to pay her less than he pays her male co-workers, overcoming alcoholism and brain damage, getting in Rocket Raccoon’s face when he threatens her cat, rejecting Norman Osborn’s offer when he asks her to join the Dark Avengers, or punching dinosaurs’ lights out, then so be it.
Here are the 15 Worst Things To Ever Happen To Carol Danvers In Captain Marvel.
15. She Was Turned Into A Fascist During The Civil Wars
Carol Danvers and Iron Man have a complicated relationship. After Mar-Vell’s death, Tony Stark convinced Carol Danvers to take the Captain Marvel name. In Civil War, Danvers sided with Stark. It’s understandable that she would, as Civil War began with her in mourning over the death of Rhodey.
That said, some fans were disappointed by Danvers’ Civil War version. After all, she turned into a willing accomplice in the government’s fascist agenda registering and monitoring all superpowered individuals.
In Civil War II, however, she really goes over the edge. A new Inhuman named Ulysses has been having crazy visions of the future– or, as it turns out, possible futures. At first, his visions are terrifyingly accurate.
Danvers becomes a believer in his precognitive abilities and starts to take drastic actions, killing potential evildoers before they commit a crime. She becomes an unwitting pawn in Nazi Cap’s plans to help Hydra.
14. She Suffered Brain Damage In The Psyche-Magnetron Explosion
Released in November 1969, Captain Marvel issue 18 pitted Mar-Vell against Yon-Rogg once again. This time, Yon-Rogg had a device called the Psyche-Magnetron, which transformed wishes and desires into reality.
Here’s where it gets weird, though. Apparently, an explosion activated the Psyche-Magnetron with Carol Danvers nearby. As a result, Danvers’ human DNA became “laced” with an identical version of Mar-Vell’s Kree DNA.
Nevermind the questionable science of DNA-lacing– it’s comics. The Psyche-Magnetron gave her powers but she also suffered brain damage in the explosion. She later exhibited signs of a split personality, with Carol and Ms. Marvel becoming two separate identities. Blackouts prevented her from reconciling the two identities.
Unlike other superheroes and their real world counterparts, Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers were completely separate identities at the beginning of her comic. When Danvers blacked out, Ms. Marvel took over.
13. Norman Osborn had her killed during his Dark Reign
In Dark Reign, Norman Osborn, revered as a hero for his exploits during Secret Invasion, takes over the Avengers and replaces the original team with supervillains in superheroes’ disguises. Osborn, better known as the Green Goblin, is a sick, sad and irredeemably evil man. Naturally, he wants to add Carol Danvers–then Ms. Marvel–to the roster, if possible.
Well, Danvers pointedly refuses his offer, making it clear to Osborn that she has got to go. After all, saying no to Dark Reign‘s H.A.M.M.E.R. isn’t like saying no to working with S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s far worse.
To eliminate Danvers, he enlists the help of a villain named Ghazi Rashid, who had good reason to despise Danvers. During Dark Reign, Norman Osborn–banking on their troubled history–hires Rashid to kill Carol Danvers. Once an ordinary soldier, Rashid now has powers, thanks to Osborn’s sharing Ascension with him.
12. She Was Mind-Controlled and Assaulted By M.O.D.O.K.
Carol Danvers’ first series Ms. Marvel in 1977 catches flak for pitting her against C- and D-list villains. Rarely does she encounter a villain with name recognition. It’s a common criticism that overlooks this twisted little arc. In Ms. Marvel issues 6 and 7, released in June and July of 1977 respectively, Danvers faced off with Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing, better known as M.O.D.O.K.
This super-weird supervillain is perhaps the most recognizable member of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), Hydra’s scientific Research and Development department. M.O.D.O.K. mind-controls Danvers into thinking that he is a suave, sophisticated, handsome man. (He isn’t.) Luckily, for Danvers– as well as for readers– she escaped his influence before something even more unsavory occurs between them.
11. Walter Lawson And A Kree Sentry Altered Her Destiny
Carol Danvers, head of security at Cape Canaveral, met a weapons expert named Dr. Walter Lawson in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 13. At the time, NASA had a deactivated Kree sentry in its possession. Danvers had one job, to watch the sentry.
This “Dr. Lawson,” however, was an impostor. The real one had died when a mysterious ship, aiming for Mar-Vell, shot down Lawson’s plane. According to Lawson’s papers, he had been en route to Cape Canaveral. Mar-Vell hoped that, by impersonating Dr. Lawson, he might find out who was trying to kill him.
Little did he know that the evildoer in the mysterious ship was Yon-Rogg, his former mentor, now full-time nemesis. As you might expect, Yon-Rogg activated the sentry, wreaking havoc on Cape Canaveral and
10. She Was Kidnapped by Cyberex
Appearing in just a few issues, beginning with Captain Marvel issue 8 (December 1968), Cyberex was a killer robot ordered built by The Organization, which is the most unimaginatively named syndicate of evildoers in comics. Walter Lawson designed Cyberex to assassinate… Walter Lawson? See, the real Lawson was a pawn of The Organization.
Cyberex took serious damage during its initial scuffle with “Lawson”/Mar-Vell, but the android’s self-repair mechanism later fixed the damaged parts. To carry out its murderous mission, Cyberex showed up at “Lawson’s” hotel room, only to find Carol Danvers shuffling through his belongings, and thus the android assassin kidnaps Danvers.
Now, this whole story arc resolves itself neatly, with Mar-Vell doing battle with Cyberex and rescuing Danvers. All of the recon work that she did to unmask “Lawson” and expose the impostor comes to naught. The real traumatic aspect of Danvers’ encounter with Cyberex isn’t the kidnapping, though. Instead, it’s the fact that she gets turned into what she never wanted to be: a damsel.
9. She Was Forced To Quit NASA
Now, this is just humiliating. Carol Danvers got fired from NASA for blacking out on the job. When Ms. Marvel finally got her own series in 1977, she suddenly wasn’t working for NASA anymore. Instead, in Ms. Marvel issue 1, Carol Danvers went to work for Woman, a magazine edited by J. Jonah Jameson. At least she got equal pay.
Still, from Danvers’ perspective, losing the NASA gig must have seemed inexplicable. Also, why must she work at a women’s magazine? What about her extensive security detail skillset and espionage experience? Didn’t Marvel already have enough superheroes who worked as journalists and answered to J. Jonah Jameson? For what it’s worth, the series was a flop, cancelled after 23 issues.
8. She Was Abused By Marcus
In Avengers issue 200, Carol Danvers, then known as Ms. Marvel, became pregnant seemingly spontaneously. Impossibly, she carried the pregnancy to term in record time.
Then, the baby, named Marcus, matured into a man over the course of a day, explaining that he had impregnated her with himself while they were both in Limbo, a dimension beyond space and time. She remembered none of it because she was being mind-controlled. (Thanks to retcons, none of this actually happened in Earth-616’s current timeline.)
An article by Carol A. Strickland points out the similarities between the Marcus storyline and sexual assault in which drugs and/or alcohol prevents a person from being able to consent. It’s no different from what Kilgrave does to Jessica Jones on the Netflix series Jessica Jones. The only difference is that Jessica Jones called it what it really is– a criminal act– and treated it as such, where as Avengers issue 200 celebrated it.
7. She Suffered From Alcoholism
Every powerful superhero has a weakness. Carol Danvers’ Kryptonite is alcohol. In her Warbird phase, she became a full-fledged alcoholic– as if the blackouts from brain damage weren’t bad enough.
At the end of her drinking, she was neither a fun drunk or a functioning alcoholic. She even tried to continue doing superhero stuff while she was drunk. You can probably guess how that turned out…
A self-pitying alcoholic, she drank to dull the pain of the psychological trauma she had suffered over the years. Eventually, though, she admitted that she had a problem, and Tony Stark took her to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and helped her get sober. After all, if Tony Stark tells you that you have a drinking problem, you had better believe him.
6. Rogue Stole Her Powers And Soul
As Carol Danvers knows all too well, pre-X-Men Rogue started out as a pretty treacherous villain. According to the YouTube channel Comics Explained, Chris Claremont planned to introduce Rogue in issue 25 of the ill-fated Ms. Marvel, which never happened.
It wasn’t until Avengers Annual issue 10 in 1981 that Rogue made her debut. In this now classic story arc, Rogue stole Ms. Marvel’s powers and her freakin’ soul and then throws her from the Golden Gate Bridge.
This arc helped to retcon away the dreaded “Marcus” debacle, putting Rogue on track to switch allegiances and become a superhero. Rogue had two personalities– her own and Carol Danvers’– warring inside of her head. Rogue signed on as a temporary member of the X-Men, to the chagrin of most of the X-Men. Meanwhile, Danvers remained imprisoned in her mind.
5. A Corrupted Version Of Her Was Killed By Magneto
Rogue and Carol Danvers’ consciousnesses and souls have resided in the same body. In Uncanny X-Men issue 269, they’re finally separated by a trip through the Siege Perilous, a rift between dimensions. There was just one problem: the Shadow King, an interdimensional manifestation of the evil side of human consciousness, had corrupted Danvers’ mind.
As expected, the two pummeled each other senseless. In a callback to her evil days, Rogue got another opportunity to kill Danvers during this fight, only this time she couldn’t do it. She had killed Danvers once already in their showdown on the Golden Gate Bridge.
4. She Had To Deal With Flerken Kittens
Sometimes, the worst things aren’t super traumatic. Sometimes they’re just super annoying. Carol Danvers’ pet Chewie may look like an ordinary cat, but looks can be deceiving. Chewie is actually a Flerken, an egg-laying alien, as we learn in 2014’s Captain Marvel issues 7 and 8 by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Inevitably, Chewie becomes pregnant with Flerken eggs.
Rocket raccoon takes it upon himself to murder Chewie before she can lay the eggs but Danvers intercedes, thankfully. When Rocket learns about Chewie, he goes and tells the world so that the entire galaxy knows about Chewie.
Luckily, he neglected to mention the eggs. The eggs hatch and the Flerken kittens run amok. It’s a farce, and it all ends happily, but being forced to choose between Chewie and Rocket was no fun for Danvers.
3. She Battled T-Rexes
Now, this one looks like just an awesome fight scene in which Captain Marvel faces off against two T-Rexes. Yet, despite all of this, it might be the most important entry on this list because of what you don’t see.
In “The Enemy Within,” a crossover event between Captain Marvel and The Avengers, Carol Danvers had to run several errands– Chewie had an annual checkup at a veterinarian, Danvers had a coffee date with Jessica Drew, and there were a few other things on the list.
Then she noticed the dinosaurs causing mayhem in Manhattan. She dealt with the dinos. Her final errand was a doctor’s appointment, wherein she learned of a potentially deadly lesion on the suprachiasmatic nucleus of her brain. Somehow, Carol Danvers fought two dinosaurs while suffering from an energy-sapping Kree-made “time bomb” of a brain tumor.
2. Her Rude Awakening After House of M
In House of M, Carol Danvers turned into a widely recognized for being the greatest of all superheroes. In the reality of The House of M, there were more mutants than humans. Magneto, who in this reality was king, dubbed Danvers Captain Marvel for her heroism in the war between humans and mutants, making her one of the few well-respected “sapiens.”
So what’s so bad this? Not much thus far. In fact, it’s all pretty great for Danvers. The problem is, at the end of this story arc, Danvers returned to Earth-616’s new reality, where she was (at that time) an anonymous nobody, with the memory of her previous life intact.
1. She Was Passed Over For A College Education
Carol Danvers was born into a working class family in Boston, Massachusetts. From a young age, she wanted to be an astronaut. However, becoming an astronaut requires significant, expensive schooling.
Her father didn’t have enough money to pay for both of his children’s educations. Carol’s brother Steve got to go to college, while she was stuck at home. Nevermind the fact that Carol was smarter and far more academically inclined than Steve.
Of course, in hindsight, being denied the education she deserved put her on the path to becoming Captain Marvel. At the time, though, her father’s decision came as a serious letdown. At age 18, she joined the United States Air Force and became a pilot and later a spy because she is awesome.
When she was discharged, she took a job at NASA as head of security at Cape Canaveral.
Can you think of any other bad things that have happened to Captain Marvel? Let us know in the comments!
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