MARVEL COMICS fans who are wondering about the direction of Captain Marvel — after a major announcement about the character — need only look towards the stars.
Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of multiple volumes of the adventures of Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (aka the future next big thing from Marvel Studios), and the current scribe on a recent 2014 reboot, describes the current adventures of the Marvel heroine with one word: up.
That direction came to mind the most for DeConnick amid collaborating with Captain Marvel artist David Lopez on their current nine-issue run (of which Lopez has drawn seven issues; Nos. 7 and 8 were drawn by Marcio Takara).
“When we talk about [Captain Marvel], we say: Everything about her wants to go up. Head up. Heart up. Chest up. Chin up. Everything faces towards the sky,” DeConnick told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs.
That’s an apt description given Captain Marvel’s current adventures as an Avenger in deep space. Marvel Comics has had recent success outside of the Earth’s orbit with such titles as “Nova,” as well as the comics and movie starring the new raccoon-fueled rock stars, the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Despite great returns from the cosmos, DeConnick was somewhat nervous to take Captain Marvel into space, given the vast history of Marvel outside the Milky Way, and her previous run with the character that kept her grounded more or less in New York.
“I was terrified when we first started talking about taking [the Captain Marvel comic] in that direction, DeConnick said. “I felt like I had spent so much time and energy building up her life in New York. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I’m sort of understanding: You can just find your corner and keep adding pieces. Now I’m having a blast. Now I’m sort of dreading that we have to come back to Earth.”
Space, of course, can mean going up against the occasional superpowered opponent (or in some cases, far-reaching galactic political power), but despite that, DeConnick will still go out of her way not to put Captain Marvel in situations in which she has to clinch her fists.
“Carol is really strong. Carol could punch a planet. Carol is insanely powerful,” DeConnic said regarding Captain Marvel’s superhuman strength. “So what I like to do is, I like to put her into situations that she can’t punch her way out of. Give her things that challenge her to — where she doesn’t have her strength — and have her try to figure out a way to be of service, to be a hero, when she can’t do it the easy way.”
“Ultimately, there’s punching because we have to have punching,” DeConnick continued. “[But] there’d be no stakes if she could just punch her way out of everything.”
Recently, DeConnick has had Captain Marvel solve the mystery of a mysterious illness affecting refugee aliens stuck on a planet that’s not their own. And, as a result, confront the head of the Spartax empire (led by J’Son, father of Peter Quill/Star-Lord/member of the Guardians of the Galaxy) and take on a young, new member of her spaceship (Tic) that she was flying solo — not counting her pet cat.
And what about that pet cat? Well, Rocket Raccoon (who joins Captain Marvel for a few issues) totally wants to destroy it. He says the cat is secretly a dangerous species of alien called a Flerken (and he is right). All of that while Captain Marvel has to leave behind on Earth someone she’s become very fond of so she can take her deep-space adventure: James “Rhodey” Rhodes-the Iron Patriot, formerly known as War Machine.
“I loved the idea of [Iron Patriot and Captain Marvel] together,” DeConnick told Comic Riffs. “I thought if they were both pilots, and both very competitive type-A personalities, that there’d be a lot of spark there. I enjoy the notion that they might have kind of armed-forces rivalries as well. I wanted her choice to leave [Earth and Rhodey] to have as much meaning as possible.”
DeConnick admits to dragging her feet when it came to putting Captain Marvel in a relationship because of the perceptive politics that she says come along when a woman is writing a female-led comic book. She remembers reading a tweet about her run on Captain Marvel that said the comic would now only be about the heroes’ feelings and emotions, and makes a joke about writing the character singing into her hairbrush.
“Ever read the X-Men?” DeConnick asked rhetorically. “Totally all about feelings,” she said while defusing ridiculous tweets in the same breath.
“I wanted to establish her as her own person, this powerhouse, and get her personality really set and clear in front of the reader before we got into [relationships],” DeConnick said. “I wanted to have her have a great life in New York and a lot of potential and excitement, so that when she chose to take this adventurous post in space, it was not an easy decision. I wanted this to be hard for her. I wanted it to be a risk.”
As for the importance of having a woman superhero written by a woman? DeConnick hesitated before answering.
“I don’t sit around thinking about the fact that I’m female, which is true and also not true,” DeConnick said. “I do make some conscious efforts to write female friendships, intergenerational female friendships. I make a conscious effort to include things that I see as important real parts of my life that are not reflected as much as I think they should be in popular culture. We very seldom have the opportunity to see women compete and remain friends.”
“In popular culture, when women compete, it’s usually over a man, and it’s usually very nasty. And that is just frankly not my experience. That’s just some kind of popular mythology, it feels like. I find it insulting.
“It’s not that it never happens, but that is how women seem to be portrayed — … that when we get together, what we do is complain about men and then fight over men. Honestly, I don’t want to break it to you dude, I love my husband [fellow writer Matt Fraction] dearly, but I do not spend my every waking hour thinking about the men in my life. This is not an obsession of mine or [of] most women I know.
DeConnick clarified her sense of mission within this context.
“It feels like dudes have been writing the story, [saying]: Well, clearly they must be talking about us. Like no, not really. I may sound more antagonistic than I mean it. … I’m really just trying … to write what feels true to me. I don’t think about a lofty responsibility. I think I’d be paralyzed by that. Like any of my male colleagues, I’m writing the stories that interest me in a way that feels true to me.”
As for the big announcement that Captain Marvel will be a part of Marvel Studios’ “Phase 3” and become the first heroine to lead her own movie, DeConnick was just as surprised and pleased as the fans who bombarded her Twitter account with the news.
DeConnick says she was writing an issue of Captain Marvel, and not focused on major happenings on the Internet, but she couldn’t help but notice that her Twitter mentions went through the roof.
“I thought Black Widow would be first, and I thought it would be five or 10 years out. Three years out is a win,” DeConnick said.
“I was shocked and delighted and thrilled. No slight should be perceived in this. The writers are freelancers. The film part of the business is very separate from the book part of the business, and we’re kind of on a need-to-know basis.
“I’m very excited that it’s going to be Carol. I think she’s a fantastic choice and I will be first in line. I could not be more thrilled. I found out when the rest of the world found out — and it was very exciting.”