Fighter pilot-turned-superhero Carol Danvers—originally a.k.a. Ms. Marvel—has been one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Comics Universe since she was introduced in the late 1960s. But when she took up the mantle of formerly male superhero Captain Marvel in 2012 for a new series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, she became a movement—her large, diverse group of fans, many new to comics, dubbed themselves the Carol Corps (and inspired their own comics series), and a Captain Marvel film is in development at Marvel Studios.
In the comics, Captain Marvel is about to set off on a new mission, with a refresh of the series launching this fall. In what may be an initial shock to her devoted fans, DeConnick is leaving the title to focus on other projects, including a development deal that she and husband Matt Fraction have with Universal TV.
But the team taking over the series have their own crossover bona fides: New Captain Marvel writers Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are the showrunners for ABC's critically adored series Marvel's Agent Carter, featuring the badass British intelligence officer and superhero in her own right, introduced in the first Captain America film.
"It's been really fun playing in a world where you can do anything," says Butters about the transition from TV writing to comics. "In comics, there is no budget." This includes working with series artist Kris Anka on designs whose only limit is imagination—such as for the space station that will be Captain Marvel's new headquarters. The new series begins eight months in narrative time after the end of Secret Wars, Marvel's current line-wide event that will change the status quo for most of the Marvel Universe's characters and teams.
"Marvel really wanted us to design what her mission is within the universe," says Fazekas. "We know what S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mission is, we know what the Avengers' mission is, we know what Guardians of the Galaxy's mission is. So how does Captain Marvel fit into all that?"
That new mission has Captain Marvel as Earth's first line of defense against extraterrestrial threats.
"This is really meant to be the next level for Captain Marvel," says series editor Sana Amanat. "Carol is really meant to be a soldier and a commander, and also a diplomat. We're really trying to build up this space complex and this space world. You'll really feel like there's an extension of the Avengers world into space, but not necessarily lost out in the Guardians of the Galaxy cosmos. It's rooted in Earth but also an extension into the galaxy."
Amanat also confirmed that S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), the agency that has served this function in the past, will not be around in the new Marvel Universe.
"One of the first things that happens when she comes to the station is they're going to come upon a ghost ship, what seems to be a ghost ship," says Fazekas. "No crew, or a dead crew. What we'll find out over the first six issues is that it's not a coincidence that it's headed towards Earth and Captain Marvel."
Despite Danvers' new job description, the most important elements of Captain Marvel's character will persist under Butters and Fazekas' watch. "We're not so much changing anything as building on what already is there," says Fazekas. "I love that she's conflicted about things; she's so different than Captain America or other superheroes. Does she even want this?"
"We love the fact that she wanted to be a test pilot, someone who tests boundaries," adds Butters. "I feel that's brought into her superhero character, where she's pushing herself. Sometimes she takes risks that she shouldn't take."
Butters and Fazekas have also collaborated with Anka to tweak Captain Marvel's character design to align with her mission. "We've slightly modified her costume to kind of reflect her new status quo," says Butters. They've also given her a new haircut. "There's been a lot of controversy about Carol Danvers' haircut," she says. "We really wanted to make sure it was consistent and streamlined. Last year I think a lot of people couldn't get her hairstyle—sometimes it was short, sometimes it was long—so we went in and designed exactly what she would look like. Kris really wanted to go shorter, because he felt it aligned with what her new look is all about."
"She's military," says Fazekas. "She's not going to have this huge mane of hair. It needs to be practical."