How I Would Have Written ‘Captain Marvel’

So, if you read my Marvel recap, you remember that I had certain issues with ‘Captain Marvel‘. Said issues largely amount to ‘It’s an incredibly stupid film with a hateful protagonist’.

Naturally, as with Black Panther, I thought about how I might have tackled the character, and the results are presented below (fair warning, this one’s a lot more lore-heavy than my BP take, so if you’re not familiar with the Marvel universe – cinematic or otherwise – you might get a little lost).

Summary:
Carol Danvers is a newly-formed captain the US Air Force joining her first active-duty squadron at a Florida base. She’s always dreamt of flying in the Air Force, following the military footsteps of her father and brothers and following a life-long love of aviation.

The squad, however, is cold to her, especially after a preliminary exercise where she makes a crucial mistake and nearly causes a crash. However, her wingman gets blamed for it instead of her.

At a bar that night, the rest of the squad keeps their distance from her, and when she tries to get friendly with the only other female pilot – Monica Rambeau – the woman lays it out for her. Carol had been used in a lot of promotional material during training, and they’ve all heard rumors that she was given special treatment and lowered standards to make her look good for the papers. Basically, as far as they’re concerned she’s a publicity stunt designed to get girls interested in the military, not a real pilot.

Stung by this, Carol reviews her training records and realizes that she ought to have failed at several points, or at least received far greater pushback than she received. She goes to the base commander to request to be returned to training, and he responds by publicly rebuking the team for failing to ‘make her feel welcome.’ Monica fesses up and takes the heat to spare the rest of the squad from being punished, and Carol becomes even less popular as a result.

Taking out her frustrations by swimming laps (wearing a black bathing suit very like her classic costume), she meets Phil Lawson, a scientific liaison attached to the base. He has a gallant, old-world charm and they strike up a friendship, helped by the fact that he’s the only one who isn’t either hostile or patronizing toward her. He advises her that, if she wasn’t given the right preparation then, she’ll just have to make up for it now and try twice as hard. “That’s the way of the warrior.”

Not long after, the squad is assigned to a training exercise with an experimental jet that Lawson developed. Carol is assigned to pilot the jet, against her protests that any one of the others would be better qualified.

They fly out over the Bermuda Triangle, with Lawson riding in the cockpit behind Carol to study the plane’s performance. Suddenly, they lose contact with the base and a UFO appears. Lawson gasps in surprise on seeing it – “No…not here…” – and the UFO shoots down the squad commander. It then targets the others in the squad, specifically Monica, but Carol fires on it, then drives the jet across its path to draws its attention (“Let’s hope this damn thing is as good as you say it is”). She tells the others to retreat while she tries to lead the UFO off. It pursues her, but instead of shooting them down it catches the plane in a tractor beam, drawing them inside itself before departing for space.

The blue-skinned aliens – the Kree – capture Carol and Lawson and put them through a very painful scanning process. Carol is put in first, over Lawson’s protest that it might kill her. It causes intense pain, and she’s unable to stand at the end of it. Then when Lawson goes through, it strips him of his human disguise and reveals the blue skin beneath. Carol lasts just long enough to see this before passing out.

She wakes up in a cell, with Lawson waiting outside of it. He expresses relief that she’s alive, she, however, doesn’t trust him anymore, accusing him of setting the whole thing up. He assures her that he had nothing to do with it, but says the truth is a long story, and he doesn’t have time. But he is going to try to get her released.

Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Yon-Rogg, the ship’s commander. He says that he’s given Lawson – or Mar-Vel as he calls him – enough time to worry over his “pet” and now they need to talk. Also on board is Quin-Ra, a servant of Mar-Vel’s family.

Yon-Rogg takes Mar-Vel to his chambers, where they share drinks. Y comments that he was difficult to find: the Nova Corps couldn’t say where he’d gone. Mar-Vel mutters something evasive about continuing his research. Yon-Rogg then drops the information that Mar-Vel’s father and his entire family is dead, which is why he was sent to find him, since he is now the sole remaining member of that line.

Shocked and pained, Mar-Vel asks who killed his family, and Yon-Rogg is oddly evasive. M suggests Thanos, but Y scornfully comments that, thanks to the Nova Corps, the Kree are already ‘balanced’ enough for the Mad Titan’s tastes (this prompts an angry retort from M about “forgetting politics for once”). He then asks Mar-Vel why he supposes he put them through the scan when they were brought on board.

Putting the pieces together, Mar-Vel nearly drops his glass. He protests in horror that “they’re extinct.” Yon-Rogg shakes his head. Mar-Vel asks how ‘they’ could be so strong, since surely people would know if there were many of them. To which Yon-Rogg answers “Would they?”

Mar-Vel asks what the other major powers in the galaxy – the Nova Corps, Asgard – are doing about it. Yon-Rogg answers that, as far as the Kree are aware, the other civilizations don’t know about it yet. The Kree are content to let ‘them’ weaken the others if possible while they take steps to protect their own Empire.

Realizing the danger, Mar-Vel understands that he has to come back to Hala to help protect his people. But he insists on letting Carol go first. Yon-Rogg refuses, revealing that he means to take her back as a scientific specimen, since they’ve had so little opportunity to study Terran physiognomy.

Following this conversation, Mar-Vel manages to trick the guards and get Carol out of her cell, and the two make their way to an escape pod. During the escape, some guards fire at Carol, but Mar-Vel places himself between them and her, taking the shots and then returning them from his hand, revealing his power to absorb and re-direct energy. He sends a message to Yon-Rogg as they fly away, telling him to inform the Supreme Intelligence that he’ll return as soon as he can.

The damaged pod crashes back on Earth and Carol emerges mortally wounded. With no other choice, Mar-Vel gives her a blood transfusion. She then directs him to her father’s house before collapsing. When she wakes up, she finds he’s been anxiously watching over her. After expressing relief at her recovery, he begs her to explain to her father that he hadn’t abducted her.

M: “He keeps threatening to shoot me and sell my body to the tabloids.”
C: “Cut it out, Dad! At least tell him it’ll be the National Geographic!”

Upon rising, she discovers that the blood transfusion has given her similar powers to his, only more volatile.

They recuperate with her father, and Mar-Vel explains his history. He is the son of a noble Kree family, but preferred scholarship to warfare, marking him out as an anomaly among his people. Following Ronan’s attack, he was sent as an ambassador to Xandar to try to repair relations (and, he suspects, because he was something of an embarrassment at home). There he gained enough respect from Nova Prime that he was permitted to study the Power Stone.

In his studies, he realized that it was the core of an ancient Kree artifact that their first Emperor used to unite Hala, back when their civilization was more peaceful and cultured and less pre-occupied with war. It was said that the first Emperor had god-like powers. Unable to resist, he made an attempt to replicate it with the stone and found himself able to absorb and generate energy.

Realizing that if it were discovered what he’d done than the Kree would never rest until they could exploit it, he decided to leave Xandar and hide out on Earth while he studied his new abilities. Now Carol has the same powers he does. Feeling responsible, he says he can’t leave until he teaches her to safely control them.

C: “Wait. Does that mean I can fly?”
M: “Ah…it might. Eventually. It took me a while to learn, but…”
C: “But I can fly? Really fly?”
M: “Yes.”
C: “Then what are we waiting for?”

At the same time, the squad have returned to the base and been debriefed. This incident is being put down as a training accident, since, as the commander explains, after so many recent disasters the government doesn’t want to worry people unnecessarily. Monica, who feels guilty about how she treated Carol, requests to be the one to take the news to her family, noting that Carol saved her life.

She goes to Col. Danvers’s house to inform him of his daughter’s ‘death’. She admits that they weren’t very close, and confesses that she had underestimated her. While she’s speaking, Carol comes in behind her.

R: “She was…more than any of us expected.”
C: “Would you say she was a real pilot?”

Monica is stunned that she’s alive, and Carol says that it’s a ‘long story’ and indicates Mar-Vel, fully revealed in his blue-skinned form.

M: “Captain Rambeau. You’re looking well.”

Carol explains what happened and why she needs to stay ‘dead’, at least for the time being. Now that she has powers, she’d be subject to the Sokovia Accords and considering how volatile her abilities currently are, it would be dangerous for Secretary Ross to know about her.

Monica apologizes for what she said in the bar, but Carol says that it was only too true and not to worry about it.

Mar-Vel then gives her her first lesson and Monica watches.

M: “Thanks to the Power Stone, you body now generates enough energy to power New York City. It absorbs impacts, reinforces your muscles, and speeds up your perception. Effectively, you’re stronger, faster, and more durable than just about anyone on your planet or mine.”
C: “Even the Hulk?”
M: “Eh, let’s make an exception for the Avengers for now. You can push your body to generate more energy and you can absorb it from your environment. The sun, cosmic rays in space, plasma fire, kinetic energy, and so on. But it’s not unlimited. Try to absorb too much, you’ll risk overloading.”
C: “What happens then?”
M: “I’ve never tried it, and I wouldn’t recommend doing so. Also, remember it takes time for your body to generate energy. It’s not an infinite supply. If you try to channel too much, you could deplete yourself, and then you’ll be just an ordinary human…Kree…beautiful woman.”

Carol gives him a bemused look at the description.

C: “We wouldn’t want that, would we?”

The lesson does not go well. Carol has a very hard time controlling her powers, uses too much at once, and generally struggles to keep it under control. But though frustrated, she keeps working hard. When Mar-Vel tries to sugar-coat how badly she did, she angrily insist that he not coddle her, but give it to her straight.

This leads into a montage of her training and slowly mastering her abilities. All the while she’s borne up by the idea that, if she learns to control it, she’ll be able to fly.

During this time, they begin to fall deeply in love, though Mar-Vel knows that he’ll soon have to leave. At one point there is a discussion about the human practice of taking your husband’s name.

Carol: “It’s an old-fashioned custom.”
Mar-Vel: “Sometimes the old ways are best. Would that we Kree had continued our traditions instead of hungering for more and more power.”

(They also comment on how ‘Marvel’ in English means ‘great wonder’).

She asks why he has to go back, and he says that his people need him. They are facing a deadly enemy and he must do what he can to stop them. She asks who the enemy is.

Mar-Vel: “They are called the Skrulls.”

He explains that the Skrulls can change their appearance and even their DNA structure to imitate anyone. They’ve developed techniques for stealing memories. They are like a virus: when they target a planet, the quietly copy and replace its most important people and their families, or else integrate themselves among the population and seek out key positions of power. They then use a combination of chemicals and mass hypnosis to discourage breeding and slowly phase the original population out while they themselves continue to reproduce until they are the majority of the population. The are cunning and deadly patient. Only when they are exposed do they break out their weaponry, which is at least on a par with that of the Kree. Now it seems that, from being thought extinct, they’ve been quietly building an empire for over a thousand years and are at last ready to begin declaring themselves openly.

Meanwhile, back on the ship, Yon-Rogg has seen Mar-Vel’s power and realizes what it means. He’s determined to take it for himself, and so sends a message to the Supreme Intelligence saying that they’ve discovered that Mar-Vel was killed by the Earth natives. He then seeks permission to seize the planet as a strategic point. The Supreme Intelligence takes time to consider his arguments, then gives permission. Quin-Ra observes all this and, the first chance he gets, slips away in a smaller ship.

Carol final masters her powers enough to fly. Mar-Vel teaches her by carrying her into the sky and ‘casting her off’. He’s done this several times in the montage and had to catch her each time. But this time she really “let’s herself go” and flies for real. It’s a joyous, almost dream-like sequence as she zooms through the air, testing her abilities, reveling the sheer ecstasy of flight. Mar-Vel flies alongside her, and the scene soon turns romantic, ending in a mid-air kiss in front of the moon.

When they land, however, Mar-Vel tells her that, now she’s learned to control her powers, he has to go. He promises to return some day if he can.

As he is about to leave, however, Quin-Ra flies down in his ship, having finally tracked them down. Mar-Vel says that he’s ready to return, but Quin-Ra reveals that Yon-Rogg has already reported his death and intends to steal his powers, and that he has received permission to seize the Earth.

Yon-Rogg arrives shortly after and Mar-Vel confronts him.

M: “Traitor!”
Y: “That’s rich, coming from you!”

Yon-Rogg says that the power of the Kree hero does not belong in one who would betray the Empire.

Y also makes a crack about “studying the local wildlife.”

Mar-Vel counters that Y is involving the Empire in a disastrous course, saying that attacking Earth will mean war with Asgard just when they’re also fighting the Skrulls. Yon-Rogg counters that Asgard will not intervene. The Dark Elves’ attack showed that they had become weak, and now Odin is dying and his sons bicker over the throne. They will not have the capacity or attention to interfere. He also cites Ronan’s attack on Xandar as showing what the Kree can still accomplish if someone is only wiling to act.

Carol sneers that the Chitauri already tried to take the Earth, but the Avengers stopped them.

C: “You don’t know what you’re getting into.”

Yon-Rogg answers that he knows all about the Avengers, which is why he doesn’t intend to invade the Earth. He’s going to bombard the planet from orbit until nothing survives.

Y: “We only want it as a strategic outpost. If, in the future, we decide to set up a permanent settlement here, we can always re-terraform it.”

Mar-Vel declares that he will not allow Yon-Rogg to stain their people with more innocent blood, and a battle breaks out, first on the ground (Carol’s Dad joins in with a rifle) then in the skies as Yon-Rogg scrambles his fighters to try to capture Mar-Vel. Carol and Mar-Vel fight back, and soon the rest of her squad join in, having been scrambled in response to reports of explosions. During this, Carol ends up flying alongside Monica’s jet and snaps a salute at her.

Monica: (whistling) “Well, shazam!”

Yon-Rogg finally orders a retreat and, abandoning the idea of taking Mar-Vel’s body, resolves to start the bombardment right away. He charges up a massive beam, and Mar-Vel, over Carol’s pleas, flies up to block it. He succeeds, but the effort overloads his body. There’s a massive explosion that damages the ship and he falls back to earth.

Carol catches his body as it falls and lands in the field where they practiced. He says good-bye, then calls Quin-Ra to witness that she is now the heir to his family line and Qui-Ra’s rightful mistress, effectively claiming her as his wife.

M: “The Vel blood flows in her veins.”

He begs her to help save the Kree, both from the Skrulls and from themselves. She says she’ll do her best, and he dies in her arms.

Meanwhile, Yon-Rogg starts to prepare another shot, the explosion having damaged his ship, but not disabled it. Carol flies up to space to continue the fight, but her blasts can’t penetrate the shields of the huge capital ship. In a final gambit, she summons all her stored energy and unleashes it in a single powerful beam that overwhelms the shields and blasts right through the middle of the ship. On the bridge, Yon-Rogg can only futilely deny that this is happening before he’s consumed in the explosion.

Completely spent, Carol falls back to Earth and passes out on the way down.

She wakes up at home, learning that Quin-Ra caught her with his ship’s tractor beam. We also learn that Monica Rambeau and her squadron are getting most of the credit, and Carol’s existence remains a secret for now, though the government will soon be looking for her.

They bury Mar-Vel in the field, not wanting his body to fall into the hands of the government. Carol then says that she has to go soon to try to carry on his work. She means to go to Xandar first to warn them of the Skrull threat.

Carol’s preparing to leave when her father says she has another visitor. Natasha Romanov walks in.

Carol is amazed to see the Black Widow in her house.

C: “I thought you were on the run.”
N: “I am. This is me running, so I’ll get to the point. We know what you did and what you can do. Since most people can’t tell you this, let me say that we’re grateful. And frankly, we could use someone like you on the team.”
C: “You…you want me to be an Avenger?”
N: “I’ll be honest, it would mean going on the run, but since you’re already dead that shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you. And you could do some real good.”

Carol considers it, but then shakes her head.

C: “I’m sorry. I appreciate the offer, I really do. Serving under Captain America, that…that’d be another dream come true! But I’ve got a promise to keep.”

Natasha nods.

N: “I’ll level with you, we think that something big is coming. Something that might take everything we’ve got and more. So, I hope you hurry back.”

Carol thinks a moment, then takes a communication device from the table.

C: “Here. I’m told this works even across interstellar distances. Something about wormholes, my new butler isn’t really sure, but supposedly it works. If you really need me, give me a call and I’ll be here as soon as I can.”
N: “Thanks. Good luck, Captain Danvers.”
C: “Actually, it’s not Danvers anymore. I’m a bit old fashioned that way. It’s Captain Marvel.”

Mid-Credits Scene:
We see pieces of the destroyed Kree ships being loaded up into a warehouse somewhere not far from the Air Force Base. The base commander is overseeing it.

Then Secretary Ross walks in. He says something about how this is a potential gold mine of information, with the chance to ‘give then an edge’.

The commander asks if he’s going to bring Stark in on it.

Ross: “Stark? Stark’s old news. I’ve got someone better. Someone more reliable.”

He indicates a thirty-something year old man who hasn’t been paying the slightest attention to them, instead studying the machinery with avidity, exclaiming over its composition.

Ross: “Doctor?”

The man comes out of his reverie and greets the commander. Ross: “Meet the future, commander.”

Man: “Sorry to be rude. Ah, it’s all rather exciting. Do you realize that the circuitry in these crafts already confirms the theory of…Oh, sorry, there I go again. How do you do? My name is Reed Richards.”

End Credits Scene:
We see a man in a darkened room talking into a small communication device. A shadowy figure is visible on the other end.

“War is coming and much is changing. We must study these developments and see how to turn them to our advantage. In the meantime, you will hold your positions and take no further actions for the time being.”

Man: “Understood. Long live the Skrull Empire!”

He ends the communication. A moment later, there is a knock at the door.

“Sir? They’re ready for you.”

The Skrull gets up and leaves the room. In the Oval Office, Monica Rambeau is waiting to be decorated. The Skrull is the President of the United States.

President: “Captain Rambeau. Our people owe you a great debt.”

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