Captain Marvel first appeared in Whiz Comics Vol. 1 #2 (February 1940), part of Fawcett Comics, a DC title. He was the Keeper of Magic, with power over the Living Lightning, and had the power of flight, speed, strength, and pyrokinesis. He could also pass on these powers to others. Billy Batson, a delinquent foster child, would transform into Captain Marvel by reciting the magic word SHAZAM, which stood for Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. Later, he came to be called Shazam. He was a member of the Justice League. Fawcett Publications let the title fall into public domain, so Stan Lee created his own Captain Marvel comic to showcase a Marvel character called Captain Mar-Vell.
In 1967, in Marvel Super-Heroes #12, Captain Mar-Vell was a Kree warrior sent to spy on Earth but came to admire its plucky people. In 1969, in Captain Marvel #17, Rick Jones, an Avengers sidekick, became bonded to Captain Mar-Vell during the Kree-Skrull War. That war raged through nine issues of the Avengers. It began in Avengers #89, when Ronan the Accuser seized control over the Kree Empire and ordered Captain Mar-Vell assassinated. In March of 1973, in Captain Marvel #25, Captain Mar-Vell took on the mad Titan Thanos, and in 1974 he was exposed to the nerve-gas that later gave him cancer. In the same year, in Ms. Marvel #1, Carol Danvers, a NASA security chief, was exposed to radiation from a psyche-magnitron and gained powers like that of Captain Mar-Vell. In 1982, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, Monica Rambeau was bombarded by forces from another dimension and gained immense powers. The media called her Captain Marvel and she joined the Avengers. In 2012, Ms. Marvel, sometimes known as Binary or Warbird but a real Captain in the Air Force, finally took on the role of Captain Marvel.
In the movie, in 1995, on the planet Hala, capital of the Kree Empire, Vers (Brie Larson), a soldier in the Starforce, suffers from amnesia and nightmares. Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), her commander, trains her to control her abilities. During a mission against the shape shifting Skrulls, Vers is captured. A probe of her memories leads to Earth. Vers escapes and crash-lands in Los Angeles. Her obvious alien presence attracts the attention of SHIELD, and agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg)—both de-aged 25 years for the roles—investigate, but they are interrupted by a Skrull attack. There is a chase, with Vers on foot and on a train, with the Skrulls impersonating random humans and Fury and Coulson trying to keep up with her in a car. She finds a crystal containing her lost memories and Fury discovers SHIELD agents impersonated by Skrulls.
Using her memories, Vers and Fury penetrate the Project Pegasus installation. They find that Vers was a human pilot—Carol Danvers--presumed dead in a 1989 crash, in a plane powered by an experimental light-speed engine designed by Doctor Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening) whom Vers has seen in her dreams. They fly to Louisiana, having somehow picked up a cat named Goose, where pilot Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), who was the last to see Danvers alive, lives with her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar). A Skrull named Talos (Ben Mendelson) appears and convinces them not to kill him. He tells them the Skrulls are not the terrorists the Kree claim, but innocent refugees searching for a home, and that Lawson was Mar-Vell, a renegade Kree helping the refugees. There is a recording that proves it, and it prompts Danvers to remember the crash. Yon-Rogg was trying to kill them, to get the experimental engine, so Danvers destroyed it. In the blast, the energy erased her memories, but gave her powers, which the Kree have been suppressing.
Lawson’s cloaked laboratory is still orbiting Earth. They go there (Danvers, Talos, Fury, Rambeau, and the cat). There are Skrull families hidden aboard and the Tesseract which powered Lawson’s engine. Kree Starforce boards the ship. They capture Danvers, but she removes the Kree implant supressing her powers and battles the Kree, becoming more powerful with every passing moment. The cat is not a cat; it is a Flerken (don’t ask) and it swallows the Tesseract. Danvers flies, shoots lightning, destroys whole spaceships, and the Kree retreat. Danvers leaves Earth to help the Skrulls but gives Nick Fury a device to call her if Earth has need of her, which he activated just before dying at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. During the credits, she shows up in front of the startled surviving Avengers, and Goose the Cat hacks up the Tesseract on Fury’s desk.
Goose was named after a character in Top Gun, and played by Chewie, who was named after Chewbacca; also, by Reggis, Archie, Rizzo and Gonzo, and a cat puppet because Brie Larson is allergic. This was the first time that actors were de-aged for an entire movie. The movie was not a great success by Marvel standards. It starred a woman, but of course that could not have been a factor, could it? Brie Larson’s acting was criticized, but I thought she was charming and funny when necessary, kick-ass gorgeous, and held her own on screen with Annette Bening, Samuel L. Jackson, and young Akira Akbar, who was great. (Why couldn’t George Lucas find child actors as brilliant? Spielberg always did.) Poised motionless in space, with lightning playing over her and lasers shooting from her hands to blow spaceships to smithereens, she was damned impressive. Marvel was obviously looking for someone to rival Superman’s powers because Thanos had beaten the crap out of Thor, and I think they did all right. An Internet troll campaign to destroy the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes rating made it the lowest rated Marvel Movie of all time.