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Feature Article

Captain Marvel Recently Got A New Origin Story Before Her MCU Debut

Everything you thought you knew about Carol Danvers' powers is wrong.

The newest Captain Marvel trailer has arrived, as has a new poster. The trailer seems to suggest another new origin story for Carol Danvers--one where she doesn't know she is a human being. She'll apparently have to piece together her past over the course of the movie when she's not punching old ladies. As for what's going on in the world of Captain Marvel comics, read on for a look at how The Life of Captain Marvel handled things.

Carol Danvers' origin story has never been what you would call simple. She's not an orphan from an alien planet or the victim of a radioactive spider bite. Instead, since her '60s debut, it's been explained she was a human who was caught in a terrible accident, which--thanks to the miraculous powers of comic book science--fused her DNA with alien Kree genetic code and granted her superpowers.

We've been assuming that Brie Larson's live-action version of the character will be taking a similar path. However, the first Captain Marvel trailer, which implies Carol might not even remember her time as a human at first and recent developments on the comic book side of Carol's life, have given us a pretty good indication that that will not be the case. Carol's got a brand new origin story to work with, and it's likely setting the stage for her MCU debut.

The Life Of Captain Marvel by Margaret Stohl and Carlos Pacheco is a five issue miniseries designed to shed some new light on Carol's early years--not necessarily by revisiting them directly but by allowing modern Carol to return home and unbury some "skeletons" in her closet. It just so happens that some of these skeletons aren't quite ready to be laid to rest.

In this week's issue #4, Carol learned in no uncertain terms that her mother has been keeping a secret from her for her entire life, and it changes everything Carol thought she knew about the origins of her powers. It turns out that the accident was never at fault. Instead, Carol's mother, Marie, has secretly been a Kree soldier on Earth this entire time. Marie--or rather, Mari-Ell--had been on a routine detail canvasing Earth for the Kree empire when she was blown off course and crashed into Boston harbor, where she was rescued by Carol's human father, Joe. The two fell in love and, despite the Empire's strict rules against such a union, were married.

Life of Captain Marvel #4, art by Carlos Pacheco
Life of Captain Marvel #4, art by Carlos Pacheco

The explosion and accident still happened when Carol was growing up, but rather than infuse her with Kree DNA, it "activated" her innate half-Kree abilities which Marie explains come about in times of extreme stress or danger as a self defense mechanism. Most young Kree are just aware that their powers are there from birth and are made to activate them deliberately, whereas Carol had been kept in the dark and did it by mistake.

Oh, and it turns out "Carol" is just her human name--like Marie is actually Mari-Ell, Carol is actually Car-Ell. So, that's a whole thing, too.

All things considered, Carol takes this revelation pretty well. As Marie puts it, the only real change (you know, aside from the massive family secret coming to life) is that Carol gets to know her powers actually belong to her now. They weren't an accident or a fluke, they weren't borrowed from someone else, and they were in her from the beginning. It's a pretty hopeful message to take away.

Life of Captain Marvel #4, art by Carlos Pacheco
Life of Captain Marvel #4, art by Carlos Pacheco

So what does that mean for the MCU version of the origin story? Well, while it's still too early to call whether or not there will be a direct adaptation for the big screen, we can assume that Larson's Captain Marvel is probably not going to get her powers from an accidental radioactive explosion. This is actually more of a revelation than you might expect. The original explosion linked Carol directly to the original Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, who had been uncover on Earth at the time. He and Carol had become close, which eventually resulted in Carol getting wrapped up in all the secret Kree goings on at the time. Had she and Mar-Vell never met, Carol would have never been near the accident site and, likely, never become a hero.

Even after she'd been empowered, in the original version of events she spent a considerable amount of time working with Mar-Vell under the code name Ms. Marvel, before she eventually took over the Captain title.

Without the need for Mar-Vell's direct involvement in Carol's early life, it seems likely the MCU is going to bypass the Ms. Marvel phase entirely and, most likely, deal with Carol's abilities awakening on their own--or via some other unrelated stress. However, whether or not that means we're going to learn Carol's mom was secretly a Kree soldier is still up for debate. It certainly does seem like a much less scientifically dubious way to explain things than inadvertent genetic modification, but when has dubious science ever stopped a Marvel movie?

Also, the decreased importance of Mar-Vell in this new origin would further support the steadily growing assumption that Jude Law won't be playing Mar-Vell on the big screen after all. Without the direct need for Mar-Vell as a story catalyst, the door for Law's role is blown wide open, making room for all kinds of new possibilities. And, with Ben Mendelsohn confirmed as Talos, rather than villainous Kree zealot Yon-Rogg as fans had previously guessed, it seems like that could be as good a place as any for Law to land.

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