Marvel Studios is releasing a film called Captain Marvel, and it is a test of their brand on multiple levels.
As long-time comic readers know, the general topic of Captain Marvel is a complicated one at best. We’re going to get into some of that mess soon, but for the purposes of the article, we’ll focus on the Carol Danvers incarnation of the character.
First introduced in 1968, Danvers eventually gains some superpowers in 1977 and becomes Ms. Marvel.
A lot happens after that.
I mean a lot .
But that’s not important to this one. What is important is that Danvers is and has been Captain Marvel in the comic book Marvel Universe for nearly seven years. The character will also be the subject of the first solo female lead for Marvel Studios. We try not to get too much into the business or politics of film making on this site, but this is a film that could have big impact on the future narratives of the powerhouse.
Bluntly, if this film fails, it is an immediate embarrassment, and I don’t mean just box office failure here.
Most moviegoers are going to enter with little knowledge of the character’s past, look at the Captain Marvel name, and believe that this should be the most important figure in the MCU. It is a type of branding that the name has never had attached to it. Marvel’s Marvel has had some great stories, but I imagine there are readers even today who don’t know much about the character’s lineage. From this weird partially marketing/partially storytelling standpoint, Captain Marvel should be the embodiment of Marvel Studios, and the truth of the matter is that the character has never been so important in the comics. This means that the film makers don’t have the opportunity to adapt much directly.
The films have successfully and smartly avoided establishing a true Superman analog, and in the pre-Infinity War films, they didn’t really need one. Now, the stakes have grown beyond the fate of the Earth and something has to challenge the might of Thanos. Not to mention that Infinity War literally ends with Nick Fury calling Captain Marvel. This is no mistake, the studio has to make a character who has been absent for a decade not seem an afterthought. Captain Marvel can be the messiah.
Some steps seem to have been taken in the comics to align Danvers with the film version, taking away the accident aspects of her origin. Unless this was somehow essential to the new film origin, I’m not sure what this contributes but Marvel Studios seems to avoid the accidental hero. Even their Spider-Man doesn’t focus much on origin, something that…okay, I plain don’t like it. I think without these type of origins, a lot of the emotion can be lost. Marvel Studios has to be careful here. Regardless of Danvers not being at the top of the company, there is a lot of good story to work with. Throwing that out is not only foolish, but may alienate the potentially vocal core fan base. While Avengers: Endgame could kill two out of five viewers and still break a billion, Marvel needs to do what they have done better than anyone else, build a future.
Captain Marvel is likely the foundation of that future.