'Captain Marvel': What Is the Source of Carol Danvers’ Powers?

Marvel Studios has released a new trailer for Captain Marvel - arguably the best one yet! However, in addition to the new trailer offering Marvel fans the best sense of Captain Marvel's unique style and tone, the new trailer also teased some of the mystery at the heart of the film.

The makers of Captain Marvel have been pretty coy about steering around the biggest question staring us all in the face: How does Carol Danvers get her cosmic powers in this Marvel Cinematic Universe version of her origin story?

In Marvel Comics lore, Carol gets the power of Captain Marvel from Dr. Walter Lawson, who is actually Kree spy Mar-Vell in disguise. "Lawson" is working with Carol at a US Air Force, and the pair are nearly killed when a Kree device called a "Psyche-Magnetron" explodes near them; however, Mar-Vell intervenes and saves Carol's life. The explosion merges Carol and Mar-Vell into a human-Kree hybrid, giving her the cosmic power of "Ms. Marvel."

Based on trailers, the MCU version of Captain Marvel has a similar (but not identical) origin arc. The trailer footage reveals that Carol gets into some kind of aerial chase with factions of both the Kree and Skrull empires, when their war comes to Earth. Exact details have been cut from the trailer footage, but what we do know is that this aerial dogfight between the US Air Force, Kree, and Skrulls, ends with a crash landing, which seemingly puts Carol (Brie Larson), Kree Starforce Commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and Skrull leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) all on the same field of battle. That fight results in a massive explosion which sends out some kind of energy wave - which washes over Carol. Afterward, we see Carol lying on the ground, injured, with the green blood of a Kree leaking out of her.

This is clearly the moment when Carol's Captain Marvel power gets activated, and there are two main possibilities we've centered on, as explanations for how the transformation occurs.

Secret Cameo - We've already broken down in detail how Mar-Vell may have a secret role in Captain Marvel, one that could be left out of marketing so that Marvel Studios could pull off another big celebtity appearance, as they've done in the past (see: Thor: Ragnarok). The theory goes that Mar-Vell is on the field of battle with Carol - having either arrived on Earth in pursuit of the Skrulls alongside Yon-Rogg, or possibly having been on Earth for sometime, embedded alongside Carol in the Air Force, much like his comic book origin. Mar-Vell would get vaporized in the explosion, and his cosmic power would get merged into Carol's human body. Realizing his old war buddy (or frienemy?) is still alive in a fashion, Yon-Rogg would take Carol under his wing, to have a version of Mar-Vell he could mold and control.

Daddy Issues - There's another theory steadily growing in popularity within MCU fan theory circles, and after this latest Captain Marvel trailer, it's seems more and more of a possibility. Captain Marvel has steadily been teasing a central theme of Carol struggling against patriarchal forces trying to control her, and that theme could have a direct tie to both Carol's powers, and Mar-Vell's role in the MCU. Basically, the theory goes that in this version of the story, Mar-Vell was actually Carol's father, who was a spy on Earth and fell in love with a human woman, producing a hybrid child (Carol). In that scenario, the explosion that Carol gets caught up in wouldn't so much transfer cosmic power into her, as it would activate a power that had always been inside of her. It could also be why she ends up running across the Kree/Skrulls in teh first place: not a random or chance meeting, but a rather a mission for both factions to try to claim a potential WMD: Mar-Vell's daughter, and her cosmic power.

It would explain why Captain Marvel features scenes of young Carol Danvers on earth, showing resilience and resolve beyond a normal kid - and what drives her to strive for greatness in the military, despite the daunting challenges facing women in the Armed Services during the 1990s era. It would also explain the big mental block Carol seems to be trying to get through during her time alongside Nick Fury on Earth, if her Kree father had been wiped from her memory by Yon-Rogg and the Supreme Intelligence, as scene in those ominous torture-like scenes in the first trailers.

It would make sense for the Kree to manipulate Carol in that way if Mar-Vell had turned his back on the empire, all for the love of a good, strong, human woman. Most importantly, it would also explain why Carol ultimately leaves Earth until Fury finally reaches out to her in Avengers: Infinity War:


If Carol discovers that Mar-Vell was her father; that she'd been lied to and manipulated all her life; and that her father's "retirement" allowed the Kree/Skrull War to ravage the cosmos for decades, then finally owning his power as her own, and deciding to make the hard, noble, choice to fight for something righteous that Mar-Vell either didn't or couldn't make, then that would be worth her seeking her own path, and never look back.

How do you explain Carol Danvers' transformation into Captain Marvel? Let us know your theories in the comments!