7 Captain Marvel stories that could inspire her MCU debut

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Apr 5, 2016, 12:32 PM EDT


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Ever since it was announced in the fall of 2014 that Captain Marvel would be getting her own solo movie, fans have been clamoring for any scrap of news they can find about the upcoming addition to the MCU. So far, all that’s known for certain is that Nicole Perlman (of Guardians of the Galaxy screenwriting fame) and Meg LeFauve (Pixar’s Inside Out) will be writing the script together, and that Carol will definitely be wearing the badass red, blue and gold outfit we see her sporting in comics today.

Long before she became Ms. Marvel (the “Ms.” in her name was once a pretty empowering reflection of the ‘70s feminist movement, according to Marvel), Carol Danvers was already a badass. She was the youngest head of security at a restricted NASA base, and she’s been a military intelligence spy, an Air Force colonel, the editor of a Daily Bugle-owned women’s magazine, a cosmic mutant, a high- ranking officer at Homeland Security, and a member of the X-Men, the Starjammers, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Of course, over the years, Carol’s also seen her fair share of struggles, most of which were inflicted by writers who didn’t know what to do with her. In one controversial storyline, she was raped by a cosmic entity; in another, she lost her memories and powers to the X-Man Rogue, and didn’t call herself “Ms. Marvel” again for decades afterward. But since her new look and title in 2012, Carol has become as powerful and important a character in the Marvel canon as Captain America or Iron Man -- in fact, she’ll even be facing off against Tony Stark soon in the sequel to the infamous comic arc Civil War.  

But while rumors still continue to fly (pun intended!) about who will direct the film, or who will star in it, we’re most curious to know: What will the film be about? Considering that Carol’s spent so much of her comic-book career as a de-powered X-Men ally or a figment of Rogue’s imagination, she sadly doesn’t have the same number of iconic story arcs as some of her comrades in world-saving. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of amazing places Perlman and LeFauve can take Earth’s Mightiest Hero in her first outing on the big screen:


1. The Origin Of Ms. Marvel: Captain Marvel #18, 1967


Some sources believe that Marvel is done with superhero origins, but if they did decide to go that route for Captain Marvel, at least Carol’s story is a pretty interesting one. In her first few comic appearances, Carol was a friend and potential love interest for Mar-Vell, a captain in the Kree army stranded on Earth. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because MCU fans have already met some blue members of the Kree race in Guardians Of The Galaxy and Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Mar-Vell is is “Pink” Kree, which basically means he looks like a regular human white dude.

Anyway, Captain Marvel’s nemesis, Yon-Rogg, kidnaps Carol Danvers and takes her to the Psyche-Magnitron, a powerful machine left behind by ancient Kree warriors that’s able to conjure anything. After he defeats Yon-Rogg, Marvel rescues Carol from Kree outpost, but not until she sustains terrible injuries in the ensuing explosion. It’s this event that leads Carol to develop Kree-like powers of super strength and flight when she was finally given her own superhero identity.

In the comics, Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel continued to fight crime simultaneously until Mar-Vell’s death in 1982, and other Captain Marvels have appeared between then and when Carol took on the name, herself. But it wouldn’t be hard to write a script that condensed the timeline a bit for a theatrical version. Perhaps Mar-Vell dies in the explosion while saving Carol and she takes on the name to uphold his legacy?


2. The Brood Saga: Uncanny X-Men #155 to #167, 1983


In this iconic ‘80s storyline by Chris Clairemont, the X-Men -- and a de-powered Carol Danvers along with them --  are kidnapped by a species of creepy Xenomorph-looking aliens called the Brood and injected with their embryos to serve as mutant incubators. When the Brood realize that Danvers has Kree DNA in her body, they experiment on her, which results in her obtaining a new set of abilities based on the power of a star. She helps to defeat the Brood under the new codename Binary, and then decides to fly around the galaxy rather than stay tied down to Earth.

It should go without saying that there are some obvious barriers to creating a Captain Marvel movie out of this: that Marvel doesn’t have the rights to either the Brood or the X-Men, and that it’s actually a completely different origin story for Carol that has nothing to do with her OG powers. But it also features a lot of fascinating body horror and identity issues that are unlike anything we’ve seen in a Marvel movie so far, and it would be cool to bring those elements into a brand new Captain Marvel story, somehow.  


3. Ms. Marvel Vs. The Cru: Ms. Marvel #1 to #4 and #21-25, 2006


Her status as Ms. Marvel and as a back-up member of the Avengers has made her a celebrity in the press, but Carol Danvers wants something more out of her life as a superhero: she actually wants to help people. In the first issue of her 2006 solo title, she decides to do exactly that and goes out on patrol by herself, only to discover a stranded group of Brood -- yup, the same jerks from The Brood Saga. They’re being chased by an even more powerful entity called the Cru, a female entity whose entire race was destroyed by the Brood and who hunts them around the universe seeking revenge without any concern for what gets in her way. Ms Marvel is able to keep the Brood and the Cru from destroying everything in their path, but in later issues, it’s revealed that Cru bonded to Ms Marvel, increasing her strength and healing factor until they’re able to separate -- just in time for the Brood Queen to arrive on Earth.

It might not be Ms. Marvel’s most famous storyline, but it definitely speaks to the core of who Carol Danvers is as a character: someone who wants to help people against insurmountable odds, but doesn’t always know how. All you’d have to do is change her name, switch around the aliens, and add in some supporting characters (might I suggest Monica Rambeau, who was the first woman to use the title “Captain Marvel?”), and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent framework for a film.


4. Alpha Flight, Captain Marvel #1 ongoing, 2016

The current post Secret War-run of Captain Marvel by Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas (AKA the two showrunners of Marvel’s Agent Carter) features Carol as the head of Alpha Flight, a Canadian team of heroes who’ve now been charged with defending the Earth against cosmic threats. Seeing as the current run is only three issues deep, it’s hard to say where a storyline based on this would end up going -- but the idea of Captain Marvel living on a space station and leading her own superhero squad is certainly appealing. Who knows, by the time the movie comes out in 2019 this arc could be a classic!


5. The Enemy Within: Captain Marvel #7 to #17, plus some Avengers Assemble issues, 2013


Carol finds out she has a lesion in her brain, causing her to face life-threatening consequences every time she takes flight. At first, it doesn’t slow her down from her life of punching dinosaurs in the face and facing off against bad guys, until she discovers that an old enemy from her past, Yon-Rogg, is after the remains of the Psyche-Magnitron and has been invading Carol’s brain in order to get it to work. With the help of the rest of the Avengers, Carol risks her life and sacrifices her memories to save New York City.

This would be an odd concept to bring up when presenting beloved character to mainstream audiences for the very first time, certainly, but it could also be a fascinating exploration of a superhero story we don’t see told very often -- what happens when a superhero’s own body betrays them, and they end up not being able to use the very ability that defines them? In addition, the very end of this storyline is where we meet Kamala Khan for the very first time, who takes on the name “Ms. Marvel” herself to save her own city.


6. Higher, Further, Faster, More: Captain Marvel #1 to #6, 2014


After a brief hiatus, Kelly Sue DeConnick’s second run of Captain Marvel hit the ground running -- and flew right into space, of course. When the Avengers need a liaison to work with the Galactic Alliance on their behalf, they send Carol, who’s instantly caught right in the middle of a political minefield on a different world.

Carol’s always been a very "Punch First and Ask Questions Later" type of character, so placing her in a situation where she can’t exactly fight her way to victory makes for some very compelling drama - not that she doesn’t eventually get to punch something, because where’s the fun in that? And sure, Guardians Of The Galaxy might be the go-to for Marvel’s space adventures right now, but Carol’s background as a prestigious military officer will give her a much different perspective and perhaps allow us to access some aspects of the universe that we’d never get to see from Star-Lord’s vantage point. Plus it’s not as if the Guardians would necessarily need to keep their distance: they did appear in this arc to help Carol out, after all.


7. In Pursuit Of Flight: Captain Marvel #1 to #7, 2012


In this premiere story from Kelly Sue DeConnick in 2012, Carol Danvers -- who’s now officially calling herself Captain Marvel for the first time -- gets plunged back in time and stranded on the Pacific Front of World War II, only to get rescued by the all-female Banshee Squad of 1943. Not only does she have to figure out how to get back to her own time, but she also must stop her once-mentor, Helen Cobbs, from interrupting Carol’s origin story as it’s happening in front of them and taking the powers of the Psyche-Magnitron for herself.

This, for my money, is the perfect framework for a cinematic Carol to shine. Marvel’s done period pieces before with Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel’s Agent Carter (and they wouldn’t necessarily have to stay in the ‘40s with Carol if they wanted to shake things up a bit), but they’ve certainly never done a time travel story, and they do have a Time Gem to throw into the mix at some point before Avengers: Infinity War concludes.

We’d also get glimpses into Carol’s past without getting bogged down by the standard origin story cliches, which would be a perfect way to explain how she has powers without making us wait to see her use them. And considering that this is the arc which introduced Carol to a whole new world of young comic fans -- even the name “Carol Corps” refers loosely to her role in the military -- so it would be a perfect way to introduce her to the rest of the movie-watching world.

So what do you think? Let us know which Captain Marvel stories you'd want to see adapted to the big screen in the comments.

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