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What's The Difference Between Captain Marvel And Ms. Marvel?

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so obviously Marvel Studios is pushing the inspirational character to be one of the leading Avengers going forward. Just look at how quickly she blasted through Thanos' ship in "Avengers: Endgame." Sure, she's a little overpowered, but in the comics Carol goes up against all sorts of threats across the galaxy.

However, Carol isn't the only hero to wield the "Captain Marvel" name in the comics — far from it. Originally, the name was given to Mar-Vell, a Kree, while Carol took on the Ms. Marvel moniker after she got powers of her own. But in recent years a young Inhuman known as Kamala Khan became a new version of Ms. Marvel. Ever since her 2014 solo series by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, she's been hugely popular among comics readers, and Marvel Studios has finally recognized that it was time for her to leap off of the page and onto the screen.

She's clearly going to be important in future phases of the MCU, because Kamala is getting her own "Ms. Marvel" series on Disney+ and she'll be played by Iman Vellani. Not only that, but she'll also star in 2022's "The Marvels" opposite both Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris — who plays Monica Rambeau on "WandaVision." But with two big-name heroes using the same marvelous name and a third who's closely tied to Carol's story, it's easy to get a little bit confused about who's who and what makes them different. Let's take a look.

Hugely different backstories

Marvel Studios has positioned Carol Danvers to be the only version of Captain Marvel in the MCU. In the comics, the Kree alien Mar-Vell was the first one to take the mantle after people mistook his real name for a superhero identity. (Nice save, Stan Lee.) This does not seem to be the case in the MCU.

Initially, Danvers was an officer in the U.S. Air Force — which is where she met Mar-Vell. However she winds up getting her own cosmic abilities when the Psyche-Magnetron explodes in front of Carol, crossing her DNA with Captain Marvel's Kree genetics, obviously. In the MCU, Danvers' energy-blasting abilities come from the Tesseract/the Space Stone, which was powering Mar-Vell's light-speed engine. Once again, Marvel Studios knows how to masterfully bend the comics to fit the narrative it's trying to tell.

Carol might've been molded into a hero, but Kamala was born one. Eons ago, the Kree were locked in a brutal war with the shape-shifting Skrulls, and in an attempt to create super-soldiers, they wound up experimenting on early humans. This only created a handful of super-beings called "Inhumans" rather than an army of soldiers, and the project was eventually abandoned.

This super-powered Inhuman DNA was passed down through generations of humanity and could be unlocked using mist created from Terrigen crystals. Kamala Khan is one of these Inhumans, and her abilities are unlocked when Black Bolt unleashes Terrigen mist across the world.

Identities and abilities

In the 1970s, Carol was known as Ms. Marvel, largely because Captain Marvel himself was still present in the universe and she kept the title long after his death in 1982 up until 2012. As Ms. Marvel, Danvers wore a much more revealing swimsuit-style outfit with a huge yellow bolt across the front. The hero has some pretty incredible abilities, since she can fly and hurl energy blasts from her hands — alongside the typical super-strength and durability, of course. When Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jamie McKelvie revamped Carol in their critically-acclaimed 2012 run, they decided to examine the character through her military background — giving her the Captain Marvel name alongside that iconic red, blue, and gold suit audiences know and love.

So why does Kamala pick up the Ms. Marvel name? Well in short, she's a huge comic book fan inside the Marvel Universe and loves superheroes. In particular, she idolizes Captain Marvel and her world-saving career — which is why she knows that Carol hasn't used the Ms. Marvel name for quite some time.

However, her shape-shifting powers are much different, allowing her to transform her body at will. Not only can she make her limbs, fists, and feet much larger and longer than usual, Kamala can temporarily alter her entire image if she wants to. When she first emerges from the Terrigenesis, the hero briefly turns into Carol wearing Ms. Marvel's original costume — she does idolize Danvers, after all. Knowing that Carol is seen as a beacon of hope around the world, Kamala picks up the Ms. Marvel mantle to try and do the same thing. 

But instead of the black swimsuit, Kamala dons an altered red and blue burkini, with the gold bolt emblazoned on the front.

The Marvels are coming to the MCU

So, what can we expect from the two heroes when "The Marvels" arrives in November 2022? Well, they'll definitely team up with Monica Rambeau — who got her own cosmic powers from passing through the Hex surrounding Westview in "WandaVision." In the source material, Rambeau has been a superhero for quite some time — even taking on the Captain Marvel mantle herself for a time, before also going by Photon, Pulsar, and Spectrum.

So clearly, "The Marvels" is assembling the three heroes in the MCU who are related to the name and seeing what makes them tick. In the comics, all three of them have been members of the Avengers, as well as many other super-teams. But it does beg the question: What kind of threat will the trio be up against if all three of them are needed? 

We'll just have to wait for November 2022 to find out.