Welcome to Bae Watch Wednesday, where I tell you all about the fictional characters you ought to be crushing on. This week’s bae is the marvelous Captain Marvel herself, Carol Danvers. There are many spoilers ahead for Captain Marvel!
Who Is Carol Danvers?
Carol Danvers, also known as Captain Marvel, is the star of Captain Marvel and the first female superhero to headline her own film in the MCU. Carol is considered one of the most powerful figures in the MCU, and looks all set to be a big player in the upcoming Endgame. But she was once just a kid named Carol, who struggled against the restrictions she faced.
Young Carol had a difficult relationship with her family. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, she faced a lot of restrictions on her gender. An early memory shows Carol’s father berating her for racing on a go-kart track after she crashes, saying she doesn’t belong. But Carol never let anything hold her back. Anyone who told her she couldn’t, she was determined to prove her wrong.
So Carol joined the Air Force. After a grueling basic training and a bevy of male pilots who told her to stay out of the “cockpit,” Carol made her way as an ace pilot. Since women weren’t allowed to fly combat missions in the 1980s, she has joined a mysterious research team headed by Dr. Wendy Lawson. Along with her best friend Maria Rambeau, Carol flew test flights for Lawson’s new engine prototype.
It wasn’t a bad life. Carol was paving the way for future technology. She found a new family in Maria and her daughter Monica, and the three formed close relationships. Lawson has become a great mentor for Carol. But everything changed when Lawson went on an urgent mission to save lives. Carol insisted on flying for her, but they were attacked by a space ship and crashed. Lawson urged Carol to destroy the prototype engine, right before she was killed by a mysterious figure.
Carol only learns all this late into Captain Marvel. For the first half of the film, she didn’t even know her own name. Called Vers, she was a superpowered member of the Kree combat team. Vers remembers nothing of her past. She woke up on Hala, the Kree homeworld, six years ago. Her life was saved and she was given strange powers by the Supreme Intelligence, leader of the Kree. She worked with a team to stop the Skrulls, invasive shapeshifting aliens.
Vers struggles with her missing memories and her identity, but she dedicates herself to the good of the Kree race. When she is sent on a mission with her team, things go awry when she is captured by a group of Skrulls. They perform tests on her which jog her memories, but that only makes her angry and confused. She manages to escape and follow them to planet C-53, determined to stop them before her team reaches her.
On planet C-53 (Earth), Vers runs into some difficulty with local law enforcement: SHIELD agent Nicholas Fury. Fury was skeptical of Vers’ tale of shape-shifting alien invaders, until he realized that his partner Agent Coulson had been impersonated. Seeing a green alien up close makes Fury a convert. He goes with Vers to investigate Lawson, the only thing she remembers. When Fury’s boss is revealed to be a Skrull, the two fled the facility, but not before Vers learned she was piloting the plane that Lawson died on. They head to Louisiana to speak to the last person to see Lawson and the pilot alive, Maria Lambeau. They also pick up a stray cat named Goose. But when they get to Louisiana, things get real for Vers when Maria reveals that she is Carol Danvers, a human pilot.
The whole truth comes out when Talos, leader of the Skrulls on Earth, asks Carol for help. They listen to the black box from the plane that crashed, and Carol starts remembering everything. She remembers Lawson, who was actually a Kree named Mar-Vell, dying when she was shot by Yon-Rogg, Vers’ mentor and team leader. Carol shot the engine to stop Yon-Rogg from gaining the technology, and the resulting explosion embues her with strange photonic powers.
Talos reveals that the Skrulls are not invaders, but refugees. Mar-Vell had been trying to save them from Kree when she was killed. Now, it’s up to Carol to uphold Mar-Vell’s legacy and save the people she thought were the enemies of the people she thought were her friends. She leads Talos to Mar-Vell’s laboratory in space, along with Fury, Maria, and Goose. There, they find Talos’ family and other Skrull refugees Mar-Vell had been protecting, along with her energy source, the Tesseract.
Yon-Rogg and the rest of Carol’s former squad show up to attempt to steal the Tesseract and destroy the Skrulls. They submit Carol to the Supreme Intelligence in an attempt to reassert control of her, but instead, she unlocks her full powers. She battles her squad while giving Fury and the rest a chance to escape with the Tesseract. Maria flies them to safety while Carol fights her squad with a set of bombs.
In the end, the team managed to escape safely, having defeated Kree. Carol entrusts the Tesseract to Fury to keep it safe on Earth. For her part, she sets off in space with the Skrulls to protect them while they find a new home. She tells Fury to call her in an emergency – which brings her back to Earth in Endgame.
Why Is Carol Danvers Bae?
To all those who think Brie Larson isn’t right for Captain Marvel: think again. Larson brings life and fun to Carol Danvers. I hadn’t really seen Larson in anything before Captain Marvel, so I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other. But now, having seen the film, I’m sold. I really can’t imagine anyone else in the role.
Brie Larson does an amazing job, but she also looks amazing in this film. As Fury puts it at one point, grunge suits her. The 90s outfits work (love the plaid), but I’m just as thrilled with her “laser tag” space suit. And when her hair goes through the helmet for Captain Marvel’s iconic mohawk? Marvelous.
Carol Danvers is an ace pilot. We actually get to see a lot of what that means in the film. To be sure, there’s a lot of her competency. She is considered a highly skilled warrior by the Kree, even without her powers. She kicks a lot of ass, defeating Skrulls and SHIELD agents and Kree alike. We also got to see Carol pilot a variety of craft, including a quinjet prototype, despite never having seen them before, let alone piloted them. It’s clear that she knows what she’s doing. But there’s a lot more to being an ace than being competent.
What’s most important thing is the attitude, and we see that in Carol. An ace pilot is a cocky, self-assured, talented asshole. They’re good, and they know they’re good. That makes up a big part of Carol’s character. She definitely has confidence in herself, even when she doesn’t know who she is. While Fury doubts her ability to fly the quinjet, she gives him a snarky answer as she competently flies them away from danger.
Carol Danvers has a lot of personality. She’s cocky and confident like any ace pilot needs to be. But she’s also goofy and fun. She goes to a bar with Maria frequently enough that it shakes her amnesia, playing arcade games and singing karaoke. She goofs off with Monica, who she calls Lieutenant Trouble. We see the fun side even when she’s Vers, as she teases Yon-Rogg and her teammates. Captain Marvel really makes Carol feel young. It’s unclear what her actual age is, but given that Brie Larson is only 29, that puts Carol at only 23 or 24 before she gets her powers and goes to Hala. She brings some much-needed youth to the MCU.
It’s absolutely ridiculous that in twenty movies in the MCU, not once has a female hero been the sole star. Ant-Man and the Wasp gave us the title heroine, but she still had to share the stage with a male counterpart. Now, finally, in the 21st movie in the MCU, we’re getting our female star with Captain Marvel. There have always been amazing ladies in the MCU. Some even have their own TV shows, like Peggy Carter and Jessica Jones. There are a number of talented female heroes (and antiheroes) in the MCU, from the Dora Milaje to Gamora and Nebula to the various female Avengers. But it took until Captain Marvel as a female hero to get her own movie in the MCU.
But while I won’t say it was worth the wait because it’s insane that it took 21 movies for this to happen, Captain Marvel definitely delivers. Released (in the US, at least) on International Women’s Day, Captain Marvel owns the female power. Carol Danvers is the most powerful character in the film, far more powerful than anyone Nick Fury has ever seen. She handily defeats Yon-Rogg, her team leader, at the end of the film without giving in to his attempts to provoke her. Captain Marvel is definitely a 2019 movie (despite being set in 1995).
Carol struggles her whole life against people who judge her as lesser because she’s a woman. She fights to be taken seriously by her parents, by her fellow Air Force cadets, by pilots. But she won’t take any shit. There’s a great scene where a biker harasses Carol to smile more (echoing trollish accounts that Larson needed to smile more). In response, Carol steals his bike and goes on her mission. Hashtag Carol against catcalling 2k19.
What’s Not To Love?
Captain Marvel was a genuinely fun movie. Despite their similar ceiling smashing natures, it doesn’t have the world-shaking majesty of Black Panther, or the paradigm-shifting Into the Spiderverse (by which standard I now judge all movies – none will match up). But it does bring us the MCU’s big-name superheroine who’s ready to shake everything up come Endgame. It also brings a lot of fun.
One of the things that made Captain Marvel so much fun was the way Carol Danvers was brought to life. She’s a sassy, confident, kickass ace pilot. She’s a hardened warrior who has long been at war at a level humans can’t even comprehend. Without a doubt, she’s the most powerful figure we’ve seen so far. Thanos whomst? He’s about to regret getting out of bed when Carol kicks his ass back to Titan.
There were a lot of stellar things about Captain Marvel. I absolutely loved Maria Rambeau and can’t wait to see Monica become a hero in her own right (maybe even as soon as Endgame). The Agents of SHIELDfan in me squealed every time Coulson came on screen (and more development for Kree just makes me long for season six even more). The relationship between Carol and Fury was top knotch. I would die for Goose, who is the absolute best.
But what really made Captain Marvel is, unsurprisingly, Captain Marvel (though she isn’t called that in the film). Carol Danvers is great. She’s a worthy choice for our first foray into female-led movies in the MCU. Though they shouldn’t be set at odds, she resembles Diana in Wonder Woman, a fierce but still fun woman who wants to save the world, no matter the cost. Born heroes, these women are the future of film.