Ahead of Captain Marvel's big-screen debut next March, Marvel Entertainment has made a significant change in the comic book history of the character — one that gives her a brand-new, movie-friendly origin story.
The fourth issue of the Life of Captain Marvel series, by Margaret Stohl, Carlos Pacheco and Erica D'Urso, reveals that Carol Danvers did not actually gain superpowers through exposure to an alien device known as the Psyche-Magnetron in an accident related to Marvel's first, male, Captain Marvel as shown in 1977's Ms. Marvel No. 2 — an origin story that had gone unchallenged for the past 40 years to this point.
Instead, the comic established that Carol's mother is, in fact, a member of the alien race the Kree, making Carol a Kree-human hybrid from birth as opposed to the result of an accident related to a male hero. The Psyche-Magnetron, instead of altering Carol's DNA, "activated" Carol's inherent superpowers, her mother explains, making them in her words, "not borrowed. Not a gift. Not an accident" — a purposeful shift that befits the company's repositioning of the character as a model of female empowerment.
The story also retcons Marie Danvers' name into "Mari-Ell," turning Carol Danvers into "Car-Ell" in the process; both names follow the pattern established by Marvel's original Captain Marvel, whose real name was Mar-Vell. In an amusing coincidence, it brings Captain Marvel closer to Superman's birth name of Kal-El just years after the CW show Supergirl changed Supergirl's secret identity to "Kara Danvers."
It's unclear whether or not the change was made to more closely reflect whatever origin is established in next year's Captain Marvel movie, but it wouldn't be too surprising if that were the case; Marvel's publishing arm has made other edits in its mythology to reflect what audiences have seen onscreen, including creating a new Nick Fury to resemble Samuel L. Jackson in the wake of the success of 2012's The Avengers; he was the original (white) Fury's illegitimate son who, upon discovering his heritage, became a secret agent, lost an eye and took on his father's name.
Life of Captain Marvel No. 4 is available digitally and in comic book stores now. The Brie Larson-starrer Captain Marvel is set to open March 8, 2019.