A lot of effort has gone in over the years to put Men and Women on the same pedestal; however, it is safe to say that Women are yet to shatter the glass ceilings. No Comic has made this more evident than Marvel. When One thinks of DC Comics, without thinking too hard Wonder Woman comes to mind. Bear in mind Wonder Woman is not the only female Superhero from DC.
The Background to Carol Danvers
Carol Danvers is first introduced to Marvel fans in #13 March 1968. At this time her introduction is of grave importance for various reasons.
Firstly, while Marvel had a very relaxed attitude as regards to its female characters, People looked up to DC Comics to fill their appetite on Female Superheroes. It’s hard to believe that Wonder Woman was introduced to the Public 20 years before Carol Danvers! Can you Imagine!
Secondly, when Carol Danvers was introduced America was in the middle of a Civil Rights Movement as well as the Second Wave Feminism which made Carol’s entry very strategic and eye-catching. This was the right time to introduce a female Superhero to America.
The Second Wave Feminism is the era of feminism that came about in the mid-1960s and was fading out around the 1970s. However, in 1968 the Second Wave Feminism started gaining momentum. This was the era whereby women were stepping out of their gender-defined roles, out of housewife roles and stepping into tiles that were seen as ’Men Only’ roles.
Captain Marvel ( Mar-Vell)
Captain Marvel plays such an important role in Carol Danvers’ story that it is virtually impossible to fully discuss Carol Danvers without a brief insight into Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel’s life is under attack and he is trying to find out who this enemy is that wanted him dead. He is unaware this enemy is Yon – Rogg who sees Captain Marvel as a threat and wants him dead. During a fatal fight between Captain Marvel and Yon- Rogg, as Yon – Rogg is about to deal the life-ending blow to Captain Marvel a plane flies in between them and blows up. Captain Marvel comes to discover Walter Lawson is inside the plane ( an expert in Missile Guidance ) and is headed to Cape Canaveral.
Captain Marvel decides if he goes to Cape Canaveral under the guise of Walter Lawson he could find out who is trying to kill him.
Meet Carol Danvers
When Captain Marvel arrived at Cape Canaveral as Walter Lawson we are introduced to Carol Danvers. Carol Danvers represents the Confident, Attractive, liberated , authoritative boss woman who at that time is what every woman is fighting to become through the second wave feminism.
Upon meeting Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers is suspicious and believes strongly he is hiding something. What struck Marvel fans at this point is how Carol Danvers handles this situation. She does not look out for a strong man to respond to the situation which is common with comic books at that time; this is because women are usually relegated to sidekick, hence, seeing Carol Danvers handle the investigation by herself further encourages the Mantra of the Second Wave Feminism and gained popularity with the Marvel Fans.
What Happens Next?
Yon – Rogg figures out that the sentry has been found out by NASA and because the sentry wants its empire to survive it begins to destroy all human opposition.
On hearing this Captain Marvel discards his fake identity of Walter Lawson and goes on to fight Yon-Rogg.
The Beginning of the End of Carol Danvers
Carol Danvers becomes a love interest of Captain Marvel and is often portrayed as a helpless woman waiting to be saved by Captain Marvel. This is a sharp contrast to the confident Carol Davern Marvel fans fell in love with. Some schools of thought are of the opinion that Carol Davern is a mere human caught between the crossfire of stronger characters.
Meet Ms. Marvel
Ms. Marvel is introduced to the comic in January 1977. Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers are counterparts of each other but are not aware the other exists. The reason why she is a Ms, not a Mrs or Miss is to portray Ms. Marvel as a woman who is sure of her identity, liberated and confident. The only issue is Ms. Marvel does not know who she is; quite ironic.
In Volume 1, #19 there is a major fight between Captain Marvel and Yon-Rogg. During this fight, Carol Danvers is exposed to the powers of the Psyche Magnetron. The Psyche Magnetron is a device which turns dreams into reality. Carol Danvers has looked up to Captain Marvel and at that moment wishes to be his EQUAL so as to help him out. The machine takes the genetic makeup of Captain Marvel and transported it to the physiology of Carol Danvers making her half Kree and half human.
Where Marvel got this Character wrong
Ms. Marvel’s outfit is the female version of Captain Marvel’s suit. This goes against the very character Marvel spent time creating. This does not show Liberation, independence or confidence in her identity. on the contrary, it portrayed a sorry attempt to appease the female Marvel fans by giving them a counterfeit opposite sex Captain Marvel.
Secondly, Ms. Marvel never fights prominent Villains. Instead, she is preoccupied with street thugs, petty robberies which portrays her as not strong enough or taken seriously enough to be paired with popular Villains.
In no time Marvel Fans moved on to other characters while Marvel relegated Ms. Marvel to the background position female characters were positioned prior to the Second Wave Feminism.
The beginning of the end of Ms. Marvel
By #20 of Ms. Marvel Comic, Marvel had changed Ms. Marvel’s outfit. however, the damage has already been done. The readers did not identify with her. Men are preoccupied with other characters such as Spiderman, Iron Man, Thor while women still cannot see her as more than the female version of Captain Marvel.
By Issue 25 Volume 1 the Issue is canceled and she is moved to join the Avengers.
Ms. Marvel comes to the spotlight in #200 of the Avengers comic. This is so controversial that Marvel has decided to treat it like it never happened.
In this issue, Ms. Marvel suddenly becomes pregnant and no one knows how. In just a day after the child is born the child grows into a full adult.
What actually happened is Marcus Immortus son of Immortus is born in the Limbo Dimension and is unable to come to earth as he will die. Marcus kidnaps Ms. Marvel, tries to woo her and even goes as far as using an immortus device to get her to fall in love with him. He conceives himself in her so as to be able to be born on Earth. To many, this is seen as rape; as Ms. Marvel is not fully in control of her mind. To control the issue Marvel pushes Ms. Marvel to the background hoping the issue dies off and is not brought up.
Back to Zero Point
In Marvel Now, a relaunch of the earlier comic books, Ms. Mavel is seen being encouraged by Captain America following the death of Marvel to become Captain Marvel. Although she initially declines she is convinced to take on the roll where she finally becomes EQUAL with her mentor.
Although this seems like a spilled milk situation the effort of Marvel to constantly revamp Carol Danvers can be looked at with applause or disdain. Her whole life in the comic tilts more to abuse, identity crisis, weakness and compromising situations which is the exact opposite of what Carol Danvers portrayed at the introduction of her character to Marvel. Many women are facing similar situations to Ms. Marvel in their day to day activities. The foundational problem might stem from the obvious truth that her character is only created on the ”high” of the 1960 Second Wave Feminism and not because Marvel takes note of the female superhero Vacuum filled only with DC’s Wonder Women.
Hopefully, in the present future, Marvel portrays a female character in all her glory! beautiful! Confident, Liberated.