Published November 2, 2023

The 'Women of Marvel' Guide to Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel

This all-new episode of the 'Women of Marvel' podcast blasts off with Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel!

It’s an all-new season from the Women of Marvel! Listen to the latest episode from the podcast series, then tune into new character spotlight episodes each Wednesday!

Higher. Further. Faster. More. After all, Carol Danvers would never settle for less! From her early adventures as Ms. Marvel to the day she seized the mantle of Captain Marvel and beyond, this longtime Avenger has traveled far and wide since her introduction in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES (1967) #13. Along the way, she amassed a loyal group of friends, as well as a following that sent shockwaves through the Marvel Universe—and our own!

In the ninth episode from the latest season of the Women of Marvel podcast, our hosts Ellie Pyle and Preeti Chhibber shoot for the stars with Captain Marvel. They went over the qualities that make Carol so relatable with guests like writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, former Women of Marvel host Judy Stephens, and the Carol Corps' own Alison Baker. They also reflected on Captain Marvel's journey through comics to the big screen, the character's iconic costume, and so much more.

Listen to Captain Marvel's full Women of Marvel spotlight, then catch our episode highlights below!


This week, all of Women of Marvel's illustrious guests weighed in on what makes Carol so dang cool. Former Women of Marvel host Judy Stephens kicked us off by outlining five reasons the character has resonated with fans: "First off, she is truly just a badass with her powers, and even without. Time and time again, we've seen her stand up to the challenges and struggles in her day job as a hero, fighting crime, fighting alien invasions, but also just in her normal life on the ground as Carol. She's proven that she's really not afraid of anything you throw at her."

"Number two, she has demonstrated how authentically loyal she can be, not only to her fellow heroes, but also in her personal life, to her friends and family. She is truly the best friend you can have," she continued. "Number three, her growth and maturity. Throughout her time on the pages, we've really watched her mature as a hero and as a woman, growing to learn when she's made the right decision and the wrong, which I think is a very important trait."

"Number four, becoming Captain Marvel. Along with that is the evolution of her identity, with her uniform, accepting the Captain Marvel mantle, and adapting her outfit to match her new future. Also, I just want to personally shout out the new Jen Bartel update that just came out… It's so great," she gushed. "And finally, number five, building a community. From looking back to the 1970s and second wave feminism to now, in the last decade, Captain Marvel has really welcomed new fans to the comics and built this community for people who may have not felt that they had a voice here."

Likewise, former The Hangout host Alison Baker shared some of the aspects that make Carol so relatable, saying, "This character feels very relatable and the story feels accessible. I want to clarify when I say relatable, I don't just mean like, 'Oh, just like me!' It was more of, 'Carol can be a garbage fire, but also a badass.' That dichotomy, I find relatable. She's brave and she's hot and also this massive nerd and sometimes a complete idiot. It's relatable without being really broody and dark."

"There's a real day-to-day authenticity, which is funny when you consider she makes energy beams with her fists and she flies around," she added. "I don't do that, but I do get your chaotic dating life and the fact that your best friend has to yell at you sometimes, and the fact that your cat is driving you crazy. I get all of that."

Additionally, legendary Marvel creator and CAPTAIN MARVEL: DARK TEMPEST (2023) writer Ann Nocenti highlighted Carol's enduring hope and optimism. "What I love about Captain Marvel, she has to say—even if the world is collapsing, even if we all die today—if we live today, well, that's a good thing," she said. "She just listens to the waves of doom and gloom… and she's like, 'Nope, just get up and live today well, and you will have beat life.' So she just keeps getting up, and no matter how mean they are to her, and how they turn on her and how much they hurt her, she helps them."

Seminal CAPTAIN MARVEL (2012) writer Kelly Sue DeConnick—whose run transformed Carol into the icon she is today—also discussed the aspects that initially drew her to the character: "My conception of Carol is that she stumbles. She makes mistakes. She's wildly imperfect. I don't think Carol's a great leader. I'm not sure Carol should have been a colonel. I don't think Carol should run the Avengers. I think Carol's a much better pilot than she is colonel. I think she's not a thinker; she'd rather hit a problem."

"But the thing about her is that she is emotionally courageous," she pointed out. "She is absolutely willing to be wrong. She's got a twinkle in her eye and confidence, but it's not the kind of confidence that Tony has that's pride-based. It's just a center. It stings for her to make a mistake. It stings for her to be wrong. But Carol will always get backup."


For roughly 35 years, Carol Danvers operated under the codename Ms. Marvel and rocked a black leotard with a lightning bolt as her costume. However, by the time she took up the Captain Marvel mantle, she was in serious need of a makeover.

"So previously, Carol was in the Dave Cockrum black swimsuit with the lightning bolts. It's a beautiful costume," DeConnick explained. "When super heroes were first hitting the pages, they were influenced in their design by gymnasts, acrobats, [and] circus performers, which completely makes sense, right? Big on the leotards. That was great—at the time."

"But over the years, Carol's swimsuit kind of became a thong and the thigh boots and domino mask, over time, sort of started to look like dominatrix gear. It just didn't make sense to me for her character as we were envisioning her," she said. "In fact, it was really important to me that we not refer to it as her costume, that it was her uniform, because I just didn't think Carol was someone who would wear a costume."

"[Senior Editor] Steve [Wacker] told me that she would be Captain Marvel. So understand that I pitched Ms. Marvel. I did not pitch Captain Marvel. That was Steve Wacker's doing," she recalled. "He said, 'As long as we're going to change her codename, let's put her in pants.' And I was like, 'Great, let's do that!' But at the time… we were told that there was no budget to redo her costume. It would have to be done in-house."

"We were sent some designs to look at and they were okay, but there was nothing about them that looked especially Carol about it," she continued. "At the time, [artist] Jamie McKelvie was doing a fan art initiative to redesign contemporary characters in ways that were a little more modern and a little more fashion forward. I was really smitten with them. I think Jamie has a terrific design eye and a terrific eye for fashion. So I asked Steve if we could get Jamie to take a pass at the designs, and Steve said no. But in that sort of Steve nudge, nudge, wink, wink way, he was like, 'If Jamie should happen to do a design and it just made its way onto my desk, maybe I could show it to someone and possibly that would free up some budget.'"

"So I reached out to Jamie and said, 'I want to make a bet. My bet is if you do this redesign, Marvel will buy it. If I win the bet, Marvel buys it and I get to write Carol in your design. If I lose the bet, I will buy the design.' And we will never know, thank goodness, whether Jamie would have actually made me write that check," she concluded with a laugh. "It went down exactly as Steve thought it would."


In addition to reinventing Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, DeConnick fostered a community known as the Carol Corps, a group of fans dedicated to the character. "There's a couple things that are the big important points about the Carol Corps," she said. "One is, again, the very unromantic reality in the origin of the Carol Corps, which was I was trying to sell books. I had been a member of the KISS Army as a child. I had a little membership card and a belt buckle, and I liked that. I liked a fandom that had a name. So I wanted something that was alliterative and I wanted something that referenced her military background… I had dog tags made and gave those to members of the Carol Corps."

"I just made a policy of signal boosting anything and everything to help people who were interested in the character and the community find each other, so that it wouldn't be centering us; it would be centering them: you guys find each other around this character and then you'll be a community," she recalled. "Then the thing about it that I didn't have anything to do with and is just really beautiful and lucky, is the people who are drawn to that character are people who see themselves in her." 

"The folks that were drawn to Carol, who identified as part of the Carol Corps, were people who were absolutely willing to extend a hand to others, who were absolutely willing to be wrong, who were absolutely willing to take emotional risks, and they were and are the loveliest human beings that you could possibly hope for," she added.

Baker also shared her early experience with the fan community. "The Carol Corps was this homegrown fandom entity that came together in 2012ish, maybe 2013, mostly online, on Twitter and on Tumblr, organizing around specifically the launch of CAPTAIN MARVEL with Carol Danvers having the name [and] the new costume. She's no longer Ms. Marvel," she explained. "It was really all started by guerilla marketing by Kelly Sue DeConnick in some way. She was very active on Twitter and Tumblr, interacting with fans. Because of the way the story was positioned at the time, it was positioned as a good jumping on point for if you had never."

"It was a first time experience for a lot of people with Marvel, myself included. So a bunch of these new-to-Marvel fans coming in around this character and basically befriending each other online, making crafts, drawing fan art, writing fiction, sending trinkets to one another, and then it graduated into fan meetups at different conventions and panels and tons of amazing cosplay," she continued. "Somehow, by sheer force of will, then a movie happened. At least, that's how I like to think of it. I like to think the Carol Corps is the reason for that."


In 2019, Carol Danvers made the leap from comics to the silver screen in Marvel Studios' Captain Marvel—and DeConnick counts herself among the film's biggest fans. "I loved and love the first Captain Marvel film, although I will say my favorite part of it I had nothing to do with, and it kills me because it is so good," she shared. "I deeply wish I had written it, but I didn't."

"It's the scene towards the end of the film where Carol faces off with Yon-Rogg and he says, 'Put away the fireworks. When you can take me on man to man, mano a mano, that's when you've made it.' And she just zaps him. It's great," she said. "But for a character that was specifically created, empowered to be a feminist character, the Female Fury, it is the most feminist moment I have seen in a major tentpole film ever."

"In that moment, what the film is saying is, 'Ladies, you do not have to compete on a field of someone else's ability. You do not have to hide your gifts. You do not have to pretend to be someone else. You may bring everything that you are and you don't have to diminish yourself. They don't get to set the standards. They don't get to name the terms. You be you,'" she explained. "I'm getting chills. It is a beautiful, powerful moment."

Baker recalled the release of the movie from the Carol Corps' perspective, saying, "It didn't feel real because—and this, I think, is true of super hero comics at a lot of publishers—a lot of changes and reboots that happen to characters don't always stick. Characters die and come back. People get updated outfits. People get updated arcs. Then, sometimes, it sticks and sometimes it just reverts to what it was."

"So it was already crazy enough that Captain Marvel, this stuck. It hit and it stuck. Then to see, 'Oh, now this is going to be an actual movie. These movies are now the biggest movies that are happening.' Everyone sees these movies. This character that I have had my little necklace for for a while, everyone's going to know who that is," she added. "It was so exciting. I still remember when the first trailer came out, being like, 'Okay, they really did it. I kind of thought they were faking me out, but they really, really did it. They actually made this movie.' And they didn't just make the movie! They made a good movie!"

DeConnick also revealed her excitement about Marvel Studios' The Marvels, which arrives in theaters next week on November 10. "The second movie: also great! [Director] Nia DaCosta is brilliant. I was so in awe of watching her work," she said. "She is such a natural leader. She's so self-possessed. Nia knows who she is. She's very good at her job, she knows it, and she is able to bring that to the set in a way that is inviting. She's warm and funny, but she is unapologetically in charge and you have such confidence in her that it's very safe."

"So the actors get tremendous performances because she's got them. Just really, really terrific stuff. The balance between the three leads is fun and lovely. I love seeing female friendships on screen. [Ms. Marvel actor] Iman Vellani is so delightful. We are all going to work for her one day, and I can't wait. I'm in! What do you want me to do? We went to lunch and she brought her notebook and she had a whole bunch of questions for me. I was like, 'I love you so much!' She is just a goddamn delight," she shared. "Monica Rambeau gets her due. She is funny and beautiful and powerful and smart, and the three of them play off each other so well."

The latest season of Women of Marvel has arrived! Tune into upcoming episodes spotlighting a new hero each Wednesday, available wherever you listen to your podcasts!

Women of Marvel: Captain Marvel
Women of Marvel: Captain Marvel
Carol Danvers is an icon of female strength, inspiring her own eponymous fanbase. We explore how this Air Force major became a first tier Avenger through some of her top comic stories and entry point runs!


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