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Golden Gate Xpress

Captain Marvel: A Graphic History

The messy, sometimes dark history of Captain Marvel
Brie Larson, as Carol Danvers in, “The Marvels.” Image courtesy of Disney, Nov. 10, 2023.

Carol Danvers is one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe. She is the most recent incarnation of Captain Marvel, one of Marvel’s longest-lasting comic book characters.

The title of Captain Marvel, a character that was created in 1967, has been held by seven fictional characters — two of whom are depicted in the movie “The Marvels,” which was initially released in theaters on Nov. 10, 2023. Monica Rambeau, the second incarnation of the character, is played by Teyonah Parris, and Carol Danvers, the seventh, is played by Brie Larson.

Promotional poster featuring Brie Larson, as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani, Kamala Khan in, “The Marvels.” Image courtesy of Disney, Nov. 10, 2023.

Before Danvers became the Captain, Monica Rambeau made her debut in an “Amazing Spider-Man” issue in 1982. She would later move on to other names such as Photon, Spectrum, and Pulsar after surrendering the mantle to another character, Genis-Vell, the genetic son of the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell.

Danvers initially appeared as Ms. Marvel back in the late 1970s, not to be confused with today’s Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan, portrayed by Iman Vellani. It wouldn’t be until 2012 that Danvers donned the mantle of Captain Marvel when Danvers’ DNA fused with Mar-Vell’s.

“Carol is relatable — for women in particular, though not exclusively,” wrote Kelly Sue DeConnick, a writer of Captain Marvel for Marvel Comics. “She offers an untraditional archetype that’s still aspirational, but not filtered through male standards.”

The character of Carol Danvers has been around since 1968. Through the years, she has been depicted in a variety of ways. Before the 1980s, she was often a voice for feminism who often fought for equal pay, for equal work for women. In later eras, she was a victim of various kinds of abuse.

During the ‘80s and ‘90s, Carol Danvers was put through the proverbial ringer. She was kidnapped, stripped of her free will and abused. At the time in the plot, the Avengers were seen to accept the abuse of Danvers and take no action to stop what was happening to their colleague. This did not sit well with comic creators at the time like Chris Claremont who wrote Ms. Marvel and X-Men stories.

“She’s, really mistreated for a long time,” said Nick Sousanis, liberal studies professor at San Francisco State University and head of the comic studies minor. “Then Kelly, Sue DeConnick’s run really seems to take her from a middling level of character to, you know, an icon.”

Brie Larson, as Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani, as Kamala Khan in, “The Marvels.” Image courtesy of Disney, Nov. 10, 2023.

The character we see today is very different. She is a more competent leader than she was in the past. Characters in comics tend to come and go as their popularity rises and falls. According to Sousanis, characters sometimes disappear, change with the times and come back seemingly different.

The current incarnation of Captain Marvel is an example of this. During her time as Ms. Marvel, her popularity waned and she was seen in fewer books. This can also be seen in the case of most of the characters who held the name, Captain Marvel.

Since DeConnick’s run on the Captain Marvel title, Danvers’ popularity has skyrocketed. Book sales led to the character becoming an integral part of the MCU.

“I think she was really cool,” said Emily Zhao, a visual communications major. “She was able to give Thanos a run for his money… she’s one of the strongest superheroes in Marvel.”

Captain Marvel is now a mainstay in the minds of comic fans. Her appearances in multiple Marvel movies and video games have shown that around the world.

“She’s kind of a dork. I love that about her,” DeConnick said. “Like, Natasha [Black Widow] would have rolled her eyes at Carol if they’d been in high school together.”

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About the Contributor
Matthew Ali
Matthew Ali, Staff Reporter
Matthew Ali is a reporter for the Golden Gate Xpress. He is a journalism major and works as a wedding and portrait photographer. He is from Los Angeles. He is also of a particularly nerdy persuasion. He enjoys comics, video games, fantasy novels, and tabletop games. He also aspires to write fiction and eventually comic books for DC and Marvel Comics.

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