After years of fans anxiously awaiting Captain Marvel‘s arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Carol Danvers proved herself a worthy opponent for Thanos and a huge ally for the Avengers. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige originally commented, “With Captain Marvel, she is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had.” He wasn’t wrong as she tore through Thanos’ ships and army in seconds while other heroes were struggling.
Danvers was already formidable as a human in the comics. She served in the Air Force, the CIA, and NASA even before her rebirth as a superhero, setting herself apart as an accomplished pilot, soldier, and secret agent. While she was security director for NASA, she was assigned to investigate Kree warrior Mar-Vell. While she was unraveling the mystery surrounding the Kree warrior, she was embroiled in a Kree conflict. An accident with high-tech Kree energy equipment fused Mar-Vell’s genetic structure with hers. She was given all of Mar-Vell’s extraordinary powers, eventually turning her into Captain Marvel. While her origin story on the page is a little different than on the screen, she’s still incredibly powerful in both places, though not invincible.
Throughout her comic book history, she has shown several key weaknesses that her enemies have exploited, so she will probably need the help of the others if and when those weaknesses come to light in the MCU.
Updated on June 28th, 2022 by Amanda Bruce: Captain Marvel’s introduction to the MCU proved that the power levels of the heroes and villains in the universe (and in the multiverse) are growing. The movies have only scratched the surface of just what Carol Danvers can do. The movies also haven’t had the chance to delve into too many of the weaknesses she has in the comics. As she interacts with more heroes on the screen, like Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel and Monica Rambeau’s Photon, fans will want to see just what might be coming next.
Powers Only True Fans Know Captain Marvel Has
Energy Absorption and Manipulation
Captain Marvel gained many superhuman abilities from her fusion with Mar-Vell, but one of the most useful and remarkable is the ability to absorb and manipulate energy. She can absorb various types of energy, including common energy forms like electricity, and use that to enhance her own physical powers.
In addition to boosting her superhuman abilities, she can also project that energy from her hands. Her energy projection can be as intense as the force of an exploding nuclear bomb. This energy manipulation is the basis for most of her power set, allowing for many aspects of her strength, durability, and flight. It also provides a small amount of molecular control that allows Captain Marvel to transform into her costume.
Mar-Vell usually absorbed energy from solar radiation, gaining power from the sun similar to Superman. However, Mar-Vell and Captain Marvel can both use a host of different energy types to power their abilities, meaning they don’t have to rely strictly on the sun. In one case, Captain Marvel even absorbed the energy of a fellow superhero, Spectrum, a superhuman who could transform into electromagnetic energy.
Precognition and Cosmic Awareness
Captain Marvel’s Kree conversion left her with sensory awareness far beyond the limits of an ordinary human. She developed a cosmic awareness and precognition that allowed her to sense danger before a crisis even started. This was called Captain Marvel’s “seventh sense,” though it remains unclear what her sixth sense is supposed to be. When she retained multiple personalities, this precognition of danger would prompt her to transform into Ms. Marvel.
In many ways, this cosmic awareness is similar to Spider-Man’s “Spidey-Sense,” but it also seems to provide her powers beyond the sense of oncoming danger. Her precognition also makes her a formidable fighter, as she can predict an opponent’s attack before he even makes it. As useful as this power is, it seems to be a watered-down version of Mar-Vell’s even more impressive cosmic awareness.
Mar-Vell’s cosmic awareness allowed him to know whatever he needed in any given situation. He originally received this power from the cosmic entity Eon in order to fight Thanos, so it was not one of Mar-Vell’s original Kree powers. His cosmic awareness had allowed him to immediately ascertain his enemies’ weaknesses and figure out his current location when he finds himself in unfamiliar places. The scope of this power has never been defined, but just the abilities Mar-Vell has shown tell us Carol may still have room for her precognitive powers to develop.
Generating Heat, Light, and Radiation
Even after a calamitous loss of her powers, Carol Danvers was abducted and experimented on by the alien insect-like force called the Brood. They used an evolutionary ray on her that triggered the potential of her augmented Kree genetic structure and turned her into the most powerful version of herself, a cosmic-powered being called Binary. Binary was linked to a white hole, which made her capable of drawing on its energy and generating the power of a star. As Binary, almost all of her usual powers were even more effective, such as her superhuman strength, but she also gained new powers that were an extension of her usual Ms. Marvel abilities.
Her Binary powers allowed her to not only manipulate and absorb energy but also generate it. This gave her full control over stellar energies such as heat, light, and radiation. She eventually lost her Binary powers, but she could regain them afterward if powered up with enough energy absorption. These powers were a result of a boundless supply of energy to draw upon, so the intensity of her energy powers is dependent on the energy she has on hand in her environment in her normal form.
Flight Faster Than The Speed of Sound
In a turn appropriate for a skilled pilot like Carol Danvers, she gained the ability to fly unaided in the genetic transference. She is extraordinarily fast in the air, reaching speeds several times faster than the speed of sound. She often reaches Mach-3 when flying, and she retains superhuman agility in the air that allows her to maneuver and fight while flying. Her history and advanced skills as a pilot also give her an understanding of flight mechanics and aerial combat to assist her in the air. With these skills, Captain Marvel would easily match or surpass other flight-based heroes like Iron Man, Falcon, and Vision.
This flight ability is a result of her energy manipulation powers, as that was what Mar-Vell used to fly unaided. Before Mar-Vell fully developed many of the powers he would eventually pass on to Carol, he used Kree equipment to fly, first with a jet belt and then with Kree Nega-Bands that allowed interstellar flight. However, as his genetic structure changed to allow him to absorb and manipulate energy, he found he could use solar energy to fly unaided by the Nega-Bands. When using solar energy, he could also create a star-field around him that allowed others to fly with him.
Survival in Space
While her energy manipulation powers had already given her the ability to fly, her transformation into Binary increased her energy manipulation and durability enough for Captain Marvel to survive in space with nothing to aid her. The vacuum of space no longer affected her in any way, which was a great help to her when joined the space-traveling Starjammers. When her powers first depleted, she found herself unable to escape Earth’s orbit to fly into space, but she was both depleted and intoxicated at the time of this attempt. In more recent stories, she has been able to survive and even battle in space mostly unaided, but she requires oxygen to survive in space in this state.
Mar-Vell has the ability to fly unprotected through space and hyperspace, so Carol should theoretically be able to survive in space if her full powers are available to her. His Kree durability allowed him to withstand the pressure of space and forego breathing for an undefined period of time, but he often had to use his Kree Nega-Bands to survive indefinitely in space.
Superhuman Strength and Durability
Captain Marvel’s strength and durability reach a level that would make her one of the strongest characters introduced in the MCU, possibly outmatched only by Hulk and Thor. In her earliest form, she was able to lift 50 tons with ease and tear through steel with her bare hands. When she became Binary, that strength level doubled. Although she was estimated to be able to lift 100 tons, the limits of her strength as Binary were never actually stated.
When she lost her Binary powers, she still possessed greater strength than her original form, and it has been gradually increasing within the comic books. In a test by Hank Pym, her strength as Captain Marvel was shown to be almost at Binary levels with the potential to become even stronger. She can also reach her full Binary strength by absorbing enough energy. Since she gained this strength from Mar-Vell, who was considered the strongest Kree, she can outmatch Kree warriors.
With her strength also comes superhuman durability. She is bulletproof, and bullets will bounce off her skin without injuring her. She can also withstand bombs, blows by stronger opponents, falls from great heights, temperature extremes, and strong impact force without any significant damage.
Resistant to Poison and Disease
As a result of her augmented Kree hybrid genetics, Captain Marvel’s durability also extends to resistance to disease and poison. Both her and Mar-Vell possess a systemic antidote in their bodies to most toxins that would affect a human. However, this power is interesting as it plays out in the comic books, as this immunity seems to have a few exceptions that have put them both out of commission.
Mar-Vell’s life was eventually ended by disease, as he developed lung cancer from breathing in carcinogenic nerve gas. He was able to slow the progress of his cancer with the assistance of the Quantum Bands given to him by Eon and some scientific superheroes who developed other preventative measures for him. However, the cancer eventually ran its course and brought an end to Mar-Vell’s story, proving that his Kree physiology did not protect him (or Carol) from everything.
Carol has also shown certain disease and poison weaknesses in her overall immunity. She has developed a brain lesion, which may result from a similar immunity weakness as Mar-Vell’s cancer. She also once developed alcohol poisoning after a long period of intense alcohol consumption and abuse. Carol is still unaffected by most toxins that would bring down other heroes, but this particular power leaves her far from invincible.
Teleportation and Casting Illusions
Captain Marvel supposedly copied all of Mar-Vell’s powers and abilities in the genetic transference, but there are some powers of Mar-Vell’s fans can only assume Captain Marvel might have because Mar-Vell has possessed them. Mar-Vell once possessed the ability to teleport and cast illusions, though he may have completely lost those powers in his full transformation into Captain Marvel.
In order to defeat his archenemy Yon-Rogg, a god-like being named Zo granted Mar-Vell any ability he needed to win the fight. In the process, Mar-Vell became stronger than other Kree and gained the ability to teleport and cast sensory illusions. However, the teleportation was incredibly straining for him, and he required a special suit to withstand it. After proving himself in battle, the Kree leader called the Supreme Intelligence granted him his Captain Marvel suit and allowed him to keep his new strength, but he seemingly lost his teleportation and illusion powers. Given that Mar-Vell has possessed these powers, it’s still possible that Captain Marvel could have them under the right circumstances. It depends on whether these abilities became any part of Mar-Vell’s genetic structure, even if they are latent.
Carol Danvers’ transformation into Binary allowed her to power up all of her Captain Marvel abilities to their maximum, which also meant new abilities manifesting as her normal powers grew in strength. Along with the ability to generate and project energy, the Binary transformation also allowed her the ability to control gravity.
As an overall ability, this may be an extension of Mar-Vell’s apparent power to simulate telekinesis by affecting the energy around an object or an extension of her manipulation of all cosmic energies. Binary is supposed to be the form of Carol closest to the potential of her Mar-Vell-generated powers, so her energy manipulation was manifesting at its strongest level.
Adding to her impressive physical skills of strength and durability, Captain Marvel also has superhuman stamina that allows her to maintain the use of those skills without tiring for an extended period. Her body fatigues considerably slower than the average human, allowing her to continue the fight for hours. As Binary, she could continue to exert herself at peak performance for an entire 24-hour day. Normally, she can withstand exertion for approximately half that time, but even this can be increased if she absorbs enough energy from her environment.
Her stamina has been crucial in defending the Earth against large numbers of powerful opponents. When the Skrulls, the shape-shifting enemies of the Kree, secretly invaded the Earth, Captain Marvel served as the last line of defense as she was the only hero left in New York to battle them. She resolved that New York would not be taken over while she still lived, and she engaged the Skrulls in a 24-hour battle without rest. She defeated the Skrull army almost single-handedly against impossible odds. In a conflict, she has proved herself to be literally unstoppable through long hours of fighting. Although she cannot fight forever and might suffer from power depletion afterward, she is not going to make it easy for any opponent she takes on.
Superhuman Reflexes and Agility
In addition to her incredible strength and durability, she also gained superhuman reflexes and agility as a result of the Kree genetic transference. This ability allows her to respond to her physical environment almost instantaneously. At her lowest power level, her reflexes were still faster than the best human athlete, and they have only gotten better with time. At Binary levels, her energy absorption makes her even faster and more agile.
Both Captain Marvel and Mar-Vell have been able to avoid bullets and lasers with their superhuman reflexes, even when fired at point-blank range by multiple attackers. She would be nearly impossible to shoot with anything during a fight due to her quick response, and her reflexes would also give her an edge in hand-to-hand combat with most opponents. Her reflexes and agility also allow her to perform superhuman acrobatic feats.
Reconstituting and Regenerating Herself
Though Carol Danvers does have some weaknesses, it’s nearly impossible for enemies to end her life. Her energy manipulation abilities allow her to metabolize and redistribute energy to speed up her own healing process and recover from serious injuries. This gives her a healing ability that sometimes seems close to Wolverine’s healing factor. In the past, she has been able to recover from intense attacks including nuclear explosions within hours.
She has sacrificed her life on multiple occasions but is usually revived through alien or scientific means. In one case, though, she showed her survivability by trying to reconstitute herself after she was assassinated by Norman Osborn. She succumbed to a power overload and seemed to be gone. The villain Moonstone took over the Ms. Marvel mantle in her place at the request of Norman Osborn. However, Carol Danvers instead split into four energy beings who proved fatal to anyone in their wake. As the energy beings, she sought out products of genetic engineering housed at an AIM facility. She was able to fight Moonstone even in this energy form. Soon, her allies discovered the energy beings were Carol Danvers split into different Kree energy patterns, and they helped her reconstitute herself into one being by using the power from MODOK embryos.
Weaknesses Only True Fans Know Captain Marvel Has
At the beginning of her run in the comic books, Carol Danvers had trouble processing her new powers and new identity. She developed another personality, separate identities for Carol Danvers and her new superhero alias Ms. Marvel. Carol would suffer blackout spells where she was unaware of anything that happened to Ms. Marvel. She did not know that she was really Ms. Marvel, and Ms. Marvel did not know she was really Carol Danvers.
In her normal life after she left NASA, Carol Danvers was a writer and an editor for Woman Magazine (a subsidiary of the Daily Bugle). When she blacked out, she would transform into Ms. Marvel, complete with an immediate costume change to a uniform created by her new powers. Eventually, Carol figured out the true nature of her blackouts and realized that she was Ms. Marvel. She was only able to fix her fragmented mind with the help of powerful allies.
For all of her physical powers, Captain Marvel shows little evidence of a powerful mind. She has often been subjected to some kind of mental or psychological power and has been unable to resist it. The first story involving this weakness was an early and controversial chapter in Captain Marvel’s history. Marcus, the son of Immortus, became obsessed with Carol and decided to brainwash her and manipulate her into falling in love with him.
He kidnapped Captain Marvel and used technology from Immortus to brainwash her. In an even stranger turn, he caused Carol to have perhaps the weirdest pregnancy in comic book history. Marcus impregnated her with his “essence,” which caused a sped-up pregnancy for Carol that brought her to full-term labor in a matter of days. When she gave birth, her son quickly aged into Marcus, who tried to win the love of his “mother” and manipulated her yet again. She wasn’t free of him until he died in the Limbo dimension, and she then rightly blamed the Avengers for not stopping Marcus when she was completely under his control.
Captain Marvel may be a superhuman of the highest order, but it does not always protect her from the powers of other superheroes and supervillains. In one incident, Rogue was able to completely wreck her life. Rogue heard a prophecy from the precognitive mutant Destiny that Ms. Marvel would be involved in an event that would destroy Rogue’s life. Rogue decided to destroy Ms. Marvel before she had any chance to fulfill the prophecy.
Rogue attacked Carol, leading to a fight on the Golden Gate Bridge. Rogue used her power absorption abilities on Carol, but the process went haywire and she absorbed her thoughts and memories, too. The error in the process also made the transference permanent. Rogue was driven into madness by Carol’s thoughts and memories, and Carol was left a blank slate. Rogue then tried to end Carol permanently by throwing her from the bridge, but Carol was saved by Spider-Woman.
Even after the storyline was resolved, this fateful encounter left Rogue with some of Carol’s incredible powers, allowing her to fly and granting her superhuman strength in the comic books. Captain Marvel was able to regain her powers through the Brood’s experiments, but it shows that Carol is susceptible to abilities that affect her powers at large.
Unfortunately, Captain Marvel has occasionally had trouble sustaining her off-the-charts powers when she faces a significant exertion, leading to power depletion that can put her out of commission for a long period. Her power has fluctuated greatly at a few points throughout her history.
As Binary, she once had to exert all of her power toward saving the Earth’s sun, and she returned to Earth with severely depleted powers and had to recuperate for months at the Avengers Mansion. When she recovered from her power depletion, she still had her usual Ms. Marvel power level, and that power level has increased over time. Although her powers have greatly increased at many points, these increases often come with a hard fall when she has to exert her new power..
Memory loss has been a great blow to Captain Marvel’s life on more than one occasion, usually in conjunction with other blocks to her power.
When Rogue stole Captain Marvel’s powers, she also absorbed her thoughts and memories. This left Carol with memory loss in addition to the loss of her powers. Professor Charles Xavier was eventually able to restore her memories, but he could not restore the emotional bonds that were linked to her memories. This was psychologically scarring for Carol and led to her leaving Earth to join the space adventuring Starjammers.
Later in Captain Marvel’s story, she developed a brain lesion that would cause her memory loss if she took flight, but her crime-fighting efforts still required her to fly. At the same time, Kree warrior Yon-Rogg — the same Kree who accidentally caused her superhero transformation — executed a plan to use Carol as an energy source to reform Earth in the image of the Kree. To separate herself from his power source, she had to fly into space. The incident left her with significant memory loss and severe brain damage. She joined the Guardians of the Galaxy while she rediscovered her identity and then returned to Earth.
Even in the MCU, the audience has seen Carol Danvers lose her memories thanks to the manipulation of the Kree.
Marcus’ brainwashing was not the only time Captain Marvel has succumbed to mental manipulation, as she has no protection from telepathic or mental powers. Other villains capable of mind control have put Carol under their control and forced her to turn against her own allies. Although she is not considered a weak-minded hero, it seems far too easy for her to fall under the influence of mind control.
This weakness came into play when Captain Marvel faced down M.O.D.O.K., the malevolent living computer who possessed multiple psionic powers he could use on Carol. He had run-ins with Captain Marvel before the mind control incident, giving him a thirst for vengeance against her. He finally got the opportunity to ensnare her in his mind control, making her believe he is a handsome and desirable man, making the story extra-creepy.
Magic and Magical Energy
Although Captain Marvel’s main power is energy absorption and manipulation, her ability to absorb energy without consequence does not extend to magical energy. Thus, her powers are often ineffective against magic, and she requires the assistance of other heroes to bring down magic-powered opponents.
Doctor Strange has sometimes been her ally in conflicts involving magic, as his magical abilities fill in for her weakness against magical energy. Captain Marvel and Doctor Strange faced the magical Warren Traveler, who claimed to be another Sorcerer Supreme. Strange would intercede to save Carol from Traveler’s attacks, though she did once thwart his attacks herself by throwing a cat at the villain. When Traveler returned for a last appearance, Strange called for Carol’s help (via the cat, which she had adopted). Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel faced the magic-user together, but he escaped and left a chain reaction explosion in his wake that required both of their powers to contain.
Just as Captain Marvel has little power to resist brainwashing or mind control, she similarly has no ability to combat possession. Telepaths have been able to take possession of her mind and body, using her physical powers to fight their own enemies by inhabiting her body.
In one incident, the telepathic being Shadow King possessed her and inhabited her body. While he was controlling Captain Marvel, he sent her to attack Rogue, who she already held a deep animosity toward. The Shadow King was using Captain Marvel to steal the “life essence” of Rogue. She and Rogue fought in a fatal showdown where only one could survive, though they were fairly evenly matched because of a power-sharing phenomenon. Carol ultimately lost to Rogue through the interference of Magneto.
After all of the psychological manipulation, memory loss, and mind control Captain Marvel has been through, it’s not surprising that she has some damage. At one point, she had already lost her powers and memories to Rogue and then lost the connection to her Binary powers. She returned to Earth to recover and regain her original Ms. Marvel powers, but she was not quite the same.
Her independent and guarded nature prevented her from seeking help for her psychological trauma, and she developed a dependence on alcohol. She had joined the Avengers, and she started going on Avengers missions while under the influence. She made simple mistakes that nearly caused catastrophe more than once. Iron Man, a recovering alcoholic, quickly realized Carol’s problem. He helped her to start recovery for her alcoholism and stabilize her powers, and his assistance started a great friendship between Captain Marvel and Iron Man.
She still had to answer for her reckless actions in a formal court-martial before the rest of the Avengers. Rather than face her punishment, she quit the Avengers and left t0 rebuild her life.
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