Captain Marvel: The need-to-know on MCU's latest hero

Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel in the film Image copyright Marvel Studios

One of Marvel's most powerful superheroes, Captain Marvel, has hit the big screen for the first time.

And if fans and critics are correct, she's ushering a new generation of superheroes into Marvel's Cinematic Universe.

But the casual Marvel fan hasn't yet been introduced to Carol Danvers - aka Captain Marvel.

So who is she?

Image copyright Marvel Studios
Image caption Brie Larson plays US Air Force pilot Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel

OK, let's start with the absolute basics.

Carol Danvers is a Marvel Comics character who, since 2012, has held the title of Captain Marvel.

Carol was actually first introduced in 1968, at a time when the feminist movement in the US was beginning to gain popularity.

She's gone by a number of different titles since her creation - including Ms Marvel, Binary, and Warbird.

But Carol has been "breaking down barriers" since before she even had powers, according to superfan Samantha Wetherell.

That's because she joined the US Air Force against the wishes of her father - who didn't feel that it was appropriate for her as a woman.

"She went and she did something that a typical woman at that time would not have done," Samantha says.

What's she like?

Image copyright Marvel Studios
Image caption Laura says Carol's flaws are important because "a super-awesome, all-powerful character can be boring"

Carol's "drive and ambition" has led to a thriving fandom known as the #CarolCorps, says Laura Brookes, head moderator of the Captain Marvel sub-reddit.

"A core part of her character is just being the best you can be and embracing your inner strength.

"It's the idea of getting back on your feet and never giving up - she'll be the last person standing in a fight through sheer force of will."

She's also a "huge nerd", according to Samantha.

"She's one of us. She's a huge Star Wars fan. She even called her cat - in the film they're going to call him Goose - but in the comics he's called Chewie."

Image copyright Marvel Studios
Image caption Captain Marvel's comic book fans know Goose/Chewie is more than just a cat

Her flaws are equally important.

"She's an alcoholic. She has all these superhuman strengths but still has that human quality, so she brings the two together," Samantha says.

Laura adds that Carol is impulsive and has a "terrible" sense of humour.

"She has a dad's sense of humour - these are all things that readers can relate to."

So how did she get her powers?

Image copyright Marvel Studios
Image caption Carol Danvers is almost "all-powerful"

This is the question the film basically centres around.

Carol has had a few different origin stories - but in all of them she ends up as one of (if not the most) powerful characters in the Marvel Universe.

The original origin story says that she was born human and later given powers by the Kree - an advanced and militaristic alien race.

More recently the story is that she is half Kree on her mother's side.

Laura thinks the film will go down "a different route entirely".

The Kree are certain to be heavily involved though. The Captain Marvel trailer seems to suggest that Carol was found injured following a battle and taken back to their planet.

Radio 1 and 1Xtra film critic Ali Plumb says Marvel has done something different than normal with this movie's origin story.

"Normally it's like 'I'm Peter Parker, I was bitten by a radioactive spider, now I'm Spider-Man'.

"This starts with 'I'm Spider-Man, find out with me how I got bitten by a radioactive spider, and meet Peter Parker'. That is an interesting thing to do."

So what does Captain Marvel do?

Image copyright Marvel Studios
Image caption Captain Marvel is the first Marvel film to put a female superhero front and centre by herself

Samantha describes Captain Marvel's job as being to protect space as well as Earth.

When Carol became Captain Marvel in 2012, Samantha says she went from being "Earth's mightiest hero to space's mightiest hero".

The title has been held by six other Marvel characters in the comic books and is essentially a massive extra work load.

But it's a role Carol is perfectly suited for, says Laura.

"She's that bridge between Earth because she's very human, she had that human upbringing - but with the Kree side of her origin, space is obviously a large part.

"Captain Marvel is a lot about the cosmic side of the Marvel Comics and the MCU."

Image copyright Marvel
Image caption Captain Marvel in Kelly Sue DeConnick's first run as the comic's author in 2012

Whether it's leading the Avengers or clashing with the X-Men (Rogue famously stole Carol Danvers' powers back in the day) her story contains great potential for future films.

For now, the first film is exciting enough for the Carol Corps.

"For the last few years I haven't been able to sleep properly, I've lost my appetite. It sounds bizarre but I'm a comic book nerd," Laura says.

"We've been counting down from when it was announced in 2014 like 'Oh cool, it's 1342 days to go'. To be here is just crazy."

So where is Marvel heading?

Analysis by Radio 1 and 1Xtra film critic Ali Plumb

I suspect the movies we'll see after Avengers: Endgame and after Spider-Man: Far From Home will hopefully be a lot more out there, maybe much more space-based.

Some of the most exciting stuff we've seen so far from Marvel - with the Guardians movies and Thor: Ragnorak - has been in space.

They can't just stick around Earth for too long.

And frankly, 21 movies in, we have to let some of the actors have a break.

Image caption Captain Marvel is the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Chris Evans has done his time, Chris Hemsworth also has done his time.

Tom Holland, Brie Larson, the inhabitants of Wakanda, even Ant-Man, they're the newer ones and we're going to see more women, more people of colour, we're going to see more diversity and just something newer.

And what decades have we seen so far? The 1940s with Captain America, the 1990s now with Captain Marvel, the noughties when it all first got started.

There have been a few flashbacks but I wonder whether, like Wonder Woman are doing over in DC, we're gonna see stuff set in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Frankly, it's the not knowing that's exciting. Marvel, for the first time in ages, have not been telling us what they've got planned forever and ever and ever.

To guess almost ruins the fun a bit.

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