'Captain Marvel': What Is Binary?

Captain Marvel released into theaters this weekend. The film brings Carol Danvers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is all about Carol coming into her power. That moment when she accesses the full extent of that power has a name: Binary.

SPOILERS for Captain Marvel follow.

Carol’s Binary form comes from Marvel Comics lore. It dates back to an era in the 1980s when Carol hung out with the X-Men. The power-absorbing mutant Rogue had stolen Carol's powers and memories. Carol turned to Professor X for help in restoring both, but Xavier could only bring back Carol's memories, not her Kree gifts. Carol remained among the X-Men for some time in the hopes Xavier would find a way to further reverse the effects of Rogue’s mutant power.

During this time, the X-Men and Carol ended up in space as captives of the alien race called the Brood. The Brood subjected the X-Men and Carol to experimentation. One experiment unlocked the potential power stored in Carol’s Kree DNA–infused genes. The experiment transformed her into Binary, endowing her with cosmic power. The transformation also severed Carol’s emotional connection to Earth and its peoples. She remained in space as a member of the space pirate group called the Starjammers.

Binary later returned to Earth and burned out her cosmic powers to stop the sun from dying. It took her some time to recover any of her strength, and when she finally did it was at a depleted level.

Carol continued to fight alongside the Avengers, first as Warbird, then as Ms. Marvel, then taking on the Captain Marvel mantle. During her recovery, she discovered that she could absorb energy into herself and charge her DNA. If she absorbs enough energy she can regain her Binary form for short periods, doubling her power. Powering up this way is often referred to as “going Binary.”

Binary is never mentioned in the movie, but Carol gains that signature glow after rejecting the Kree Supreme Intelligence. The lever of power she shows is also consistent with going Binary, though Carol is mighty even without the extra Binary flair. Fans will see if she goes full BInary against Thanos when Captain Marvel returns in Avengers: Endgame.

What do you think of Captain Marvel? Let us know in the comments!

Captain Marvel is now playing in theaters.

Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Avengers: Endgame on April 26th and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.

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