Why We Love Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers has been a staple of the Marvel Universe since 1968 when she first appeared. Her first solo title debuted in January of 1977. She has been a core member of the Avengers and always a powerhouse to be feared by her enemies and respected by her friends. As an officer in the United States Air Force, Carol becomes involved in the life of one Dr. Walter Lawson, the alter ego of the superbeing of Kree origin known as Captain Marvel. During an escapade Carol is wounded by a Kree device and Captain Marvel saves her life, which was the catalyst for granting her immense cosmic power. She had numerous adventures under the mantle Ms. Marvel with the Avengers, Defenders, and the X-Men, and the 616 was enriched with her presence.
Then something extraordinary happened, unforeseen by anyone. Carol changed, metamorphosed perhaps, from Ms. Marvel into the new Captain Marvel. Her classic, yet unbelievable, costume of one piece swimsuit matched with thigh high boots and long gloves was replaced by a fully body uniform. It looked like the exact sort of uniform one would wear into space without a ship. The elegant design surpassed “classic” and leaped immediately to iconic. What took everyone by surprise, we latched onto her so fiercely that a new idol was born. In hindsight, it was only a matter of time. We NEEDED Captain Marvel without realizing it until she exploded on the scene, sparklefists first.
Costume redesigns and name changes are NOT why we love Captain Marvel, though they certainly got our attention. Frankly speaking, she is one of the most badassed, noble, realistic, and inspiring characters in comics today. When many heroes struggle with the weight of being a self imposed civil servent of the world, Carol finds her strength and challenges herself to be the best hero she can be. While other heroes fight to keep their loved ones safe by creating problems via a secret identity, Carol accepts the challenge head on and integrates those close to her with her persona. She knows they are in danger and trusts them enough to make the decision to remain in danger to be close to her. She rewards them with steadfast loyalty and dedication. Sure, her superheroics need her attention, but visiting a sick friend in the hospital as promised is just a tick below her priorities under Saving the Universe.
Captain Marvel’s weakness is she can be cocky. She believes in herself so strongly, and understands herself so thoroughly, she KNOWS she can take on any challenge, whether it is breaking piloting records without the use of her powers or punching a Celestial in the face. But we love her because despite her cockiness she isn’t arrogant. When a child is bullied over his home made Iron Man costume, she personally makes sure he knows that Tony himself would be proud of him. She sees the power in people, no matter who they are, and she encourages them to embrace it.
Captain Marvel sees the universe as something wondrous, with danger and beauty everywhere. It is important to her to take the time to stop and understand how incredibly awesome reality can be. When she is thrust into situations where the stakes are the highest and the situation is dire, you can tell it’s those moments that give her strength to press on, and every shattering punch is fueled not as much by Kree energy, but an understanding of what will be preserved when she wins. Not “if”, When. Quitting is never an option. Failure is not in the cards. We love Captain Marvel because she fights for us all and we are too important to her to ever lose.
Sometimes however, winning comes at a great price. There is a great difference in surveying the aftermath and calculating the losses and knowing what the cost will be beforehand and making the decision to to forge ahead anyway. To save the lives of millions of people Carol sacrificed her very identity. Every memory, experience, and personality trait she had gained in her considerable life was offered upon the alter of circumstance in exchange for winning the day. She knew what would happen and what she would lose and acted without hesitation, because the lives of those people depending on her were more important than the very core of who she was. In the world where death is a minor setback, THAT is the kind of sacrifice that means everything. We love Captain Marvel because she is willing to be a hero at all cost.
We have moved past the age where the gritty, violent loner defines “Badass”. We are tired and bored with “heroes” solving all their problems with murder. The ethics of The Punisher will not help us in our lives. Captain Marvel represents hope. No matter how dark it gets, we can always be the light to find our way. Carol is determination personified. She will do whatever needs to be done until it is done or unconscious, whichever comes first (and when she wakes up, it’s right back to it). She is an example to strive to be better than ourselves, constantly pushing herself further to be the best Carol Danvers she can be with that as its only reward. She is a hero. She does what is right because it is right, whether standing up to Thanos, or encouraging a little girl’s self esteem.
It would be easy to say Captain Marvel is the perfect role model for women and girls who love superheroes. She uses her fists over her sexuality to defeat villains. She has a uniform, not a skimpy costume. She is comfortable with herself, body and mind. She is a true friend, and never devalues the importance her friends have in her life. It would lift spirits to someday see little girls running around in home made Carol Corps uniforms zooming around pretending to be fighting aliens in space. Sure, it would be easy, but it would only be half right. Carol Danvers, Captain Marvel, is the perfect role model for ANYBODY. To aspire to always be better, to face all challenges with steely determination, to fight for what is right because of that alone, to never give up no matter how hard it may be to continue, to be true to your friends no matter how weird your life is, and to look at the universe with wonder and satisfaction as you move through it, these are things, men and women, boys and girls, can ALL be inspired by.
We Love Captain Marvel because she defines heroism. She represents the best of us, and she believes we can all become the best versions of ourselves so much, she will sacrifice everything to ensure that we are given the opportunity. Carol Danvers IS Captain Marvel. I am Captain Marvel. You are Captain Marvel. We are ALL Captain Marvel.
*headline banner created by Jason John Brown*