The Top 6 Captain Marvels in Comics
The Captain Marvel movie is here! I’ve got my ticket and the plan is to show up at least an hour in advance to get one of the comfy reclining seats at my theater! It’s gonna be an awesome year in Marvel movies and Captain Marvel is gonna blast us off!
So how about a Captain Marvel themed List of Six to celebrate the occasion!
If you’re not too familiar with the long history of the superhero name “Captain Marvel”, it’s kind of insane. The first use of the name came in late 1939 with Fawcett Comics character Captain Marvel, who only settled on that name when the publisher couldn’t use “Captain Thunder”, and when they decided to shorten “Captain Marvelous”. That character was even more popular than Superman during World War II, but his popularity dried up after the war, and after DC Comics sued Fawcett because their Captain Marvel was clearly a rip-off of Superman.
When this Captain Marvel ceased publication, the recently christened Marvel Comics decided to seize the name and created their own, original Captain Marvel! And then DC eventually bought out Fawcett Comics and gained control of that first Captain Marvel. And then everybody sued everybody else for copyright infringement, which ended with Marvel retaining the rights to the name, but only if they kept publishing comics with that name…hence why I have been able to cobble together an entire List of Six of comic book characters named “Captain Marvel”!
The universe is grand.
6. Captain Marvel
Genis-Vell and Phyla-Vell have their fans, but I’m gonna squash them together into one entry because they both fill the same sort of slot. These are two Captain Marvels who popped up in the 1990s and 2000s to carry on that legal copyright name. And both have similar origin stories. Both are the genetic offspring of the Marvel Comics’ original Captain Marvel (more on him later on this list), and both often engage in various cosmic adventures at Marvel. Both also have storylines so twisted and complex that I can’t do them justice. Suffice to say, both existed, both can be pretty cool, and both used the name “Captain Marvel” at some point.
5. Captain Marvel
Any time I can reference Amalgam Comics on my blog is a good time. I should do a full list at some point. Anyway, Amalgam was a 1990s joint venture between Marvel and DC in which they melded their characters together to create an entirely new universe of characters. For example, Superman and Captain America were merged into Super Soldier (see above). Batman and Wolverine were merged into Dark Claw. And fortunately for this list, Marvel’s Captain Marvel was merged with DC’s Captain Marvel to create…Captain Marvel! Billy Mar-Vell is a young boy who shouts the magic word “Kree!” to become an adult, scientifically-enhanced superhero! He’s a member of the Judgement League Avengers. Amalgam Comics are so awesome.
4. Captain Marvel
This Captain Marvel is the one that kickstarted Marvel’s big legal war. When the name was up for grabs, they created Mar-Vell, a Kree soldier who came to Earth as a spy, but decided to stick around as a superhero. Captain Marvel was big in the 1970s, which was way before my time. But Captain Marvel wasn’t so popular as to be kept alive, and he was laid to rest in a big 1980s event called “The Death of Captain Marvel”. Big time cosmic writer Jim Starlin wrote a big, touching death story, in which Mar-Vell dies of cancer, of all things. It was so touching that Mar-Vell is one of the only comic book characters to never be resurrected…so far.
3. Captain Marvel
Created as one of the leading black, female superheroes of the 1980s, Monica Bambeau took on the name “Captain Marvel” after getting the power to convert her body to energy. She quickly joined up with the Avengers and eventually even led the team, but her popularity eventually waned and she was pushed into the background. Genis-Vell eventually came along and took the name “Captain Marvel”, at which point Monica bounced around to various names: Photon, Pulsar and, most recently, Spectrum. She was also the leader of Nextwave, which is about as cool as superheroes get. Go dig up and read Nextwave.
2. Captain Marvel
Here’s the one that started it all! That first Captain Marvel from Fawcett Comics! Billy Batson, a little 10-year-old boy, gets the power from the wizard Shazam to imbue him with the powers of the gods! Which just happen to coincide with normal superhero powers like super strength and speed. All he has to do is say the magic word — “Shazam!” — and the power is his! We’ll be seeing this guy’s movie later this year. Let’s hope it can hold a candle to the best Captain Marvel of all time!
1. Captain Marvel
Is Carol Danvers the best Captain Marvel of all time? That’s probably debatable, but I think she’s the tops at this point in time. Originally a spin-off character to that original Kree soldier Mar-Vell, Carol debuted as “Ms. Marvel”, which was a pretty big feminist statement at the time. Wonder Woman was on the cover of the first issue of “Ms.” magazine. Carol Danvers had a long and storied superhero career as Ms. Marvel, the gritty details of which are a bit too complicated and a bit too insane to get into here. Suffice to say, Marvel has been trying to clean up her image and make her someone special over the past few years, and that included having her rise up into the title of “Captain Marvel”!
I’ve already got my ticket!