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Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Captain Marvel are ahead!
We’ve met a lot of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, each with their own unique powers and/or skill set. This weekend marks the introduction of one of the mightiest yet: Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel. Teased last year at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Carol is being primed to be one of the new leading protagonists in the MCU going forward, and the Captain Marvel movie turns the clock back to 1995 to tell her origin story. Lest you think that’s the last we’ll see of her this year, Carol will be return at the end of April to help out the surviving Avengers in Avengers: Endgame.
Captain Marvel is a heavy hitter in the Marvel Comics universe, and for years it’s been promised that she’ll be incredibly powerful; perhaps the most powerful of the Marvel protagonists. But what exactly are Carol Danvers’ powers? What is she able to do after absorbing the Tesseract’s energy and being turned into a human/Kree hybrid that makes her such a formidable opponent and a key ally in the upcoming rematch with Thanos? Let’s go over the special abilities she shows off in the Captain Marvel movie to get the full scope of what she’s capable of (and no, traveling through time is not one of those things).
When Carol Danvers was brought back to the Kree homeworld Hala after the Light-Speed engine was destroyed, she was given a transfusion of Yon-Rogg’s blood. As a result, Carol, a.k.a. Vers during her amnesiac days, has the enhanced physiology that all Kree have, thus making her faster, more durable and agile than your average human. However, perhaps the biggest advantage of having Kree DNA is the super strength. Even before her powers kicked up several notches in Captain Marvel’s climax, Carol was throwing punches that would send opponents flying across the room and bent a steel bar around some door handles to delay some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from capturing her and Nick Fury. Even when her hands were handcuffed so she couldn’t use her energy powers (more on that soon), Carol managed to fight off a squad of Skrulls.
After her powers kicked up several notches, Carol’s strength increased far past what you’d expect from a normal Kree, allowing her to stop one of the missiles Ronan the Accuser launched at Earth and send it back to the other missiles. But even that strength boost is just the tip of the iceberg, as Brie Larson said last year that Carol is able to move planets, a feat only Thanos has previously been able to accomplish with the help of some Infinity Stones. Someone’s clearly been eating their Wheaties.
Manipulating energy is definitely the most visual of Carol Danvers’ powers, although she was led to believe during her time as Vers that this ability was a gift from the Supreme Intelligence, and one that could be taken away. This placed limits on Carol was initially able to do with this gift, but she nonetheless put it to good use, mainly through the use of photon blasts, which she could either use as projecting force or to enhance her already impressive strength. Carol was also able to generate enough energy to melt through steel doors and walls, as well those Skrull power-dampening cuffs after several minutes of effort.
When Carol’s memories returned and she learned that her energy powers actually came from absorbing the energy emitted from the Tesseract when she blew up the light-speed engine on Earth, that was just the key to awakening her full potential. After destroying the device on her neck that had actually been inhibiting these powers rather than giving them to her, Carol’s photon blasts were powerful enough to easily knock down numerous Starforce operatives and once and shoot down several Kree ships. This cosmic energy Carol can unleash is arguably what distinguishes her most from the other Marvel heroes, and it could be the key to finally defeating Thanos, particularly since, just as was the case with Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, this power came from an Infinity Stone.
Originally, like any other normal human and Kree, Carol Danvers was earth-bound. When the escape ship she used to get off the exploding Skrull ship in the beginning portion of Captain Marvel was destroyed, she helplessly fell to Earth, and it’s only because of her Kree physiology and whatever energy reserves she could draw on that she survived that crash into the Blockbuster store. She also had to travel with Nick Fury, Talos, Maria Rambeau and Goose to reach Mar-Vell’s hidden base aboard that enhanced aircraft. But once that Kree inhibitor device was gone, Carol was given free reign to the sky and space.
During Captain Marvel’s climactic conflict, once again, Carol found herself crashing to Earth, but at the last minute, she stopped her fall and began floating. From there, it was easy enough for her to fly back into space to stop the Kree attack on Earth. But Carol’s isn’t just flying at ‘normal’ speed; as a result of her cosmic powers fully awakening, Carol can now fly at the speed of light, as she accompanied the Skrull refugees on their journey to find a new home. Mar-Vell indirectly succeeded in creating light-speed travel, it just wasn’t a ship that received that capability, it was a person.
Longer Life Span
I’ve already discussed how durable Carol Danvers is after becoming a human/Kree hybrid, and this enhanced physiology also means she heals faster from the wounds she does receive. That said, Carol also now ages more slowly compared to the average human. This was shown in Captain Marvel’s mid-credits scene when she suddenly appeared at the New Avengers base after Nick Fury’s pager was activated and she looked exactly the same as she did over two decades ago.
Most aliens in the MCU have much longer lifespans than humans, and now we can count Carol among them. Similar to when Steve Rogers was awakened after almost 70 years on ice, it will be interesting to see Carol back on Earth both reuniting with people from her past who are now much older and acclimating to how times have changed since she was last home, although I doubt this will be explored in-depth during Avengers: Endgame since that movie has a lot on its plate. Unlike Steve, though, if the MCU ever decides to release a movie set decades or even centuries in the future, there’s the potential for Carol to appear and either still look the same or only slightly older. She may not live as long as someone like Thor, but Carol could continue leaving a big impact on this superhero universe when most of the other heroes around now have passed.