Now that Marvel has firmly established its cinematic universe and the triumph of the superhero genre, it’s time to think about what’s next — and I don’t mean Cinematic Phase 2. There’s a dearth of female superheroes in movies right now, one that Marvel can and should correct with one character in particular: Captain Marvel.
Some of you might be more familiar with her as Ms. Marvel, the superhero who gained immense cosmic powers after she was genetically fused with alien Kree DNA. She gained super-strength, the ability to fly, the power to shoot energy bolts from her hands, is virtually indestructible, and is arguably the most powerful woman in the Marvel galaxy. Over the years, she’s had a few names — Binary and Warbird among them — but in July of last year, she assumed the role of the original hero who inspired her, Captain Marvel.
And now, the time is right for Captain Marvel to join the cinematic universe — and moreover, Marvel shouldn’t let this opportunity pass them by. First, everybody knows they need more female heroes, because the powerless (though talented) Black Widow isn’t cutting it next Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Iron Man. And while Joss Whedon says he’s bringing in Scarlet Witch, she’s too tied to her brother Quicksilver to be the independent lady badass Marvel needs.
But Captain Marvel is. She’s one of the few Marvel superheroines who can go toe-to-toe with the Hulk, or Thor, of anybody. Seeing Black Widow beat people up is fun, and seeing Scarlet Witch use her hex powers will be cool — but can you imaging the scene where Hulk punches the giant alien beast, but with Captain Marvel doing the punching? That would be phenomenal. With her ability to fly, she can fight in the air alongside Thor and Iron Man, with her strength she can tag-team with Hulk, with her military background she can strategize with Cap — she’s an equal with all four of the main movie Avengers in a way no other superheroine can be. And that would go a long way into bringing gender equality into superhero movies.
Another way Captain Marvel is the perfect addition to the Avengers and the like is that Captain Marvel is beholden to no male superhero, something very few superheroine can say, unfortunately. There’s no Mr. Marvel that Captain Marvel is the female equivalent of (at the present — I see you comics nerds raising you hand, and I know what you’re thinking, and I’ll address it in a second). She-Hulk, by her very name, is merely a crossplay version of the Hulk, like Spider-Woman is to Spider-Man. Captain Marvel isn’t defined by her relationships; she’s not a hero’s girlfriend, like the Wasp is primarily known for; she isn’t part of a pair, like Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver. Captain Marvel is unique in the Marvel universe in that her character truly stands alone — in a way hardly any other female superhero does other than DC’s Wonder woman. Yes, Captain Marvel is Marvel’s Wonder Woman, and that should be more than enough reason for them to get her on-screen, stat.
Plus, as Marvel producer Kevin Feige has said over and over again, Marvel’s Cinematic Phase 2 is the “cosmic” phase. Given Captain Marvel’s origin as a result of the alien Kree technology, there could not be a more perfect time to add Captain Marvel to the universe. Frankly, before Feige confirmed that the Guardians of the Galaxy movie had Star-Lord in the lead, I thought Captain Marvel would have been the perfect hero to helm the picture instead. There’s nothing Star-Lord brings to the table that Captain Marvel doesn’t, and then you can immediately sweep her into the Avengers, too. Kismet!
But back to the aforementioned concern: Comics fans know that Carol Danvers was created as Ms. Marvel, as a female version of the original Captain Marvel, the Kree alien who defied his Empire to protect the planet he was sent to infiltrate. But here’s the weird part — Carol was actually a character/love-interest in Marvel Super-Heroes comics, starring Captain Marvel, but she was always a strong, independent woman, even then. She was a top-student in the Air Force academy and then a pilot, she was skilled at combat and intelligence and joined the CIA and eventually became the security director for NASA at Cape Canaveral… all before she got her powers. When she got her powers in her debut comic as Ms. Marvel in 1977, she was intended from the very beginning to be a superheroine as powerful as any of Marvel’s male heroes.
But that wasn’t all. Because five years later, the original Captain Marvel died in the seminal graphic novel The Death of Captain Marvel, and suddenly, Ms. Marvel had no male counterpart to be compared to. Her name was Ms., but their was no Mr. — and there continued to be no Mr., because even when someone new took on the handle, it happened to be Monica Rambeau, another woman.
Now think about this — even if Superman dies or Spider-Man gets his mind-transferred into Doc Ock’s decrepit body, Supergirl and Spider-Woman are never without those male icons overshadowing them. But because Captain Marvel was never a top character, or because of how strongly Carol was portrayed before she got her powers, or maybe just because Ms. Marvel had so much time alone, she became a hero independent of her ties to the original Captain Marvel.
And, in a way, this is almost better. She started as a typical love interest, but she became a hero. She started as female version of Captain Marvel, but became her own superhero. And now that she’s taken her predecessor’s moniker, Carol Danvers isn’t walking in the male Captain Marvel’s shadow — Captain Marvel is a job that Carol Danvers has earned entirely on her own, and a job that she’s proven a woman can do as well as any man — if not a damn sight better. Because Captain Marvel is awesome.
And that’s my last point: Captain Marvel is awesome right now. If you haven’t been reading Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel series, you’re missing one of the publisher’s best titles, and frankly, nowadays that’s really saying something. And if you watched the late, lamented Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon, you would have seen Ms. Marvel (animated before the title change, alas), as one of the Avengers' most powerful and valued members, one who protected the Earth without ever faltering. Captain Marvel has never had more visibility, and never has her potential been greater.
Marvel, you are sitting on the perfect opportunity here. Bring Captain Marvel to your Cinematic Universe. Do it for a character who richly deserves it. Do it for the millions of female fans she’ll inspire. Do it to make the Avengers less of a sausage party. Or you can even do it just to beat DC/Warner Bros. by making a Captain Marvel movie before they make a Wonder Woman movie, because that’d would be hilarious. But most of all, just do it.