The news that the upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson will be rewriting Carol Danvers' origin story probably won't rock the boat — while comics fans are likely wringing their hands with worry right about now. To most people who didn't grow up reading comic books, Carol Danvers is an unknown quantity. As Captain Marvel, her most notable appearances off the page have been in one episode of the original animated X-Men series, and a handful of episodes on the recent Disney animated series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. To the uninitiated, the character is far less iconic than the likes of Spider-Man, Superman, or Batman. But what is Captain Marvel's origin, and why is it changing for the big screen?
Introduced in 1968 in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes, Carol Danvers was originally an Air Force pilot who was recruited to become a Special Ops spy, and later quit that job to become the head of security for NASA. While working at Cape Canaveral, she met a scientist named Dr. Walter Lawson, and the pair developed a romantic connection — except Lawson was actually the pseudonym of a Kree soldier named Mar-Vell, who protected Earth from extraterrestrial threats under the name Captain Marvel.
During a battle between Mar-Vell and a Kree villain, Carol was accidentally knocked into a Kree weapon called the Psyche-Magnitron, which altered her genetic code, making her half-Kree and bestowing upon her superhuman abilities. Although she was unaware of her mutation for a time — she would simply black out and unwittingly become a hero while she was unconscious — she eventually realized what was happening, took control of her transformations, and adopted the alias Ms. Marvel.
Carol Danvers was the first woman to fight crime under this alias, although it was a title that would be used over time by three other characters; the current Ms. Marvel is Kamala Khan, Marvel Comics' first-ever Muslim character to headline her own series. Eventually, after Mar-Vell died in battle against the Phoenix Force, Carol took up his mantle and was subsequently ditched the "Ms." to be referred to simply as the gender neutral Captain Marvel.
So why is the Marvel Cinematic Universe going to change that backstory? It's far from the most ridiculous origin of a Marvel superhero; she wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider or manufactured in a tissue-growing "Cradle." Well, according to screenwriter Nicole Perlman (who co-wrote the first Guardians Of The Galaxy alongside director James Gunn and is co-writing Captain Marvel alongside Inside Out's Meg LeFauve), who spoke about her upcoming movie on the podcast Any Time With Vin Forte, the reason behind the alteration is two words: "green" and "lantern."
Hal Jordan, the character played in the 2011 Green Lantern movie by Ryan Reynolds, is also a pilot who becomes a hero who protects Earth from extra-terrestrial threats after a chance encounter with an alien force. The similarities between the two origin stories were noted and Perlman and LeFauve wisely decided to change course:
I don’t think I’ve ever had a project where I’ve been more mindful about the impact that it could have and the importance of it. She’s such an incredibly kick-ass character. … But here’s the thing: if you were just going to do a straight adaptation of the comics, her origin story is very similar to Green Lantern. And obviously, that’s not what we want to do. There’s a lot of reinvention that needs to happen. And also, she’s her own person and she’s a great character. We have to be aware of what’s happened in other Marvel films and make sure that her particular storyline is unique and fun and also fits in within this world that’s going on at the same time.
There you go, folks. Apparently Marvel Studios didn't want their Cinematic Universe being associated with one of the worst-reviewed superhero movies of the decade. Fair enough. It remains to be seen how much, if any, of Carol Danvers' backstory will remain intact — Will she even work for NASA? Will she still be transformed by a Kree artifact? — but we'll find out when Captain Marvel hits theaters in March 2019.