Carol Danvers explained — her comic history, origin, and powers

We're going higher, further, faster, with the MCU's big gun. Here's Carol Danvers explained, from her Captain Marvel mantle to backstory.

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in The Marvels

The thing about Carol Danvers that really endears her to us is her well-intentioned messiness. From the source material to her underutilized MCU counterpart, she’s flawed, powerful, stubborn, and determined as all hell.

That makes diving into her role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel’s powers, and what new movies she might fly her way into lots of fun. She’s not your run-of-the-mill ‘likable’ female superhero, sanded down to an unassuming square — thank god.

Carol Danvers explained

Carol Danvers is a human former Air Force pilot who becomes the superhero Captain Marvel, one of the strongest Avengers, after receiving powers in an accident.

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in The Marvels

Carol was determined to excel in a male-dominated field and became a top Air Force pilot. In the MCU, she gained cosmic superpowers after being exposed to the Tesseract’s energy.

Today, she’s categorized in the ‘don’t want to mess with you’ category with the likes of Thor, The Hulk, and the Scarlet Witch.

Carol originally appeared in Marvel Comics before joining the long list of MCU characters. In both the comics and in the MCU, she’s known for her grit, exceptional powers, and hardheadedness.

Carol Danvers in Marvel Comics

Carol Danvers in Marvel Comics explained

In Marvel Comics, Carol Danvers becomes Ms. Marvel (and eventually Captain Marvel) after being exposed to a Kree device.

Carol is a human/Kree hybrid and primarily acts as a soldier. With a rough childhood thanks to her unsupportive father (we saw this in 2019’s Captain Marvel, too), she chose to join the Air Force and push herself.

After rising up the ranks, NASA was infiltrated by the Kree warrior Captain Mar-Vell. In the chaos, she was affected by a Kree machine that imprinted Mar-Vell’s Kree Nega-Bands’ energy on her, activating her powers.

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Initially calling herself Ms. Marvel (which Kamala Khan later uses in comics and The Marvels movie), she became an Avenger. While she’s most affiliated with that group, she takes more of a solitary approach to her life and duties, often being called in by different teams, like the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy, as needed.

Her biggest allies are James Rhodes (aka War Machine) whom she has an on-again-off-again romance with, and Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman), her bestie.

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Carol Danvers’ backstory in the MCU explained

Carol Danvers is the daughter of a former U.S. Navy officer who put her down and was not supportive, so she dreamed of making her own way and excelling past her perceived limits.

Carol’s father had a ‘traditional’ mindset, which led to him berating her and favoring her brother. This motivated her to rise to the occasion and surpass expectations. The “higher, further, faster” catchphrase comes from this desire to push boundaries.

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in The Marvels

Carol Danvers in the Marvel movies explained

In the MCU, Carol Danvers becomes Captain Marvel after the Light-Speed Engine is destroyed and the Tesseract’s energy gives her cosmic superpowers.

In 2019’s Captain Marvel, she was suffering from amnesia when we met her and was serving as a Kree soldier. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she had a life on Earth as Carol Danvers.

After the Light-Speed Engine incident, she became a Kree-human hybrid thanks to a blood transfusion from Yon-Rogg (we hate that dude), and her memory was wiped.

After being wrapped up in the Kree-Skrull conflict, she crash-landed on Earth and started recovering fragments of memory. She then found her best friend and fellow Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau and sided with the Skrulls.

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The next time we saw her was in Infinity War after Nick Fury (who was inspired by her to create The Avengers initiative) was dusted by Thanos’ snap. Ultimately, she helped win the fight against the most intimidating Marvel villain yet in Endgame.

Next up for her in the Marvel movies in order is The Marvels, where she swaps places with an older Monica and new hero Kamala when she uses her powers.

Brie Larson as Carol Danvers and Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan in The Marvels

Carol Danvers’ powers and abilities explained

As Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers has hybrid physiology/cosmic enhancement, superhuman strength, durability, speed, durability, stamina, and a regenerative healing factor.

Her unique biology following her experience with the Tesseract granted amazing gifts, but we also have to consider the fact she’s a trained Air Force pilot and Kree soldier, which makes her a tactical asset.

And of course, there’s her ability to fly. Aerial combat is where she’s at home — the only difference now is that she’s in a super suit rather than a jet.

Her aging is also extremely reduced: she shows up in some of the franchise’s best movies looking no different in the present than she did in Captain Marvel, which was set in the 90s.

Whatever the medium, Captain Marvel is one of the strongest Avengers.

Here’s hoping upcoming Marvel movies make the most out of her, they certainly haven’t so far. Speaking of Marvel Phase 5, check out The Marvels cast for more on the film’s actors, and find out who The Marvels’ villain is.

We’ve also got rankings of the best Marvel series and a guide to Marvel Phase 6.