The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
also known as "Binary" and "Warbird,"
formerly of the Avengers and the Starjammers
We are not certain about many details regarding the religious background, religious beliefs and religious affiliation of Ms. Marvel, whose real name is Carol Susan Jane Danvers.
When we first listed Ms. Marvel in the main table on this site we did so not because she clearly exhibited a specific religious affiliation but because she was becoming an increasingly important character in the Marvel Universe and we thought she should be included. The best we could come up with for a listing at the time was: "mildly feminist; Alcoholics Anonymous." This was not entirely satisfactory, however. Although Feminism played some part in the original inspiration of the character and she was originally portrayed as something of a Feminist, it is difficult to find any overt expressions of contemporary organized Feminism in the character now. Certainly Carol Danvers subscribes to many basic feminist values, but she does absolutely nothing that would warrant listing feminist as a part of her "religious affiliation," even tangentially. She doesn't attend organized Feminist meetings, read Feminist, evangelize Feminism or utter Feminist philosophy every other page. (Very few genuine feminists do these things, but some comic book Feminists do.) In short, we believe Ms. Marvel probably is a feminist, but she is not in any way a "radical Feminist" (which is the type of person for whom we might list Feminism as an aspect of her religious affiliation).
The "Alcoholics Anonymous" aspect of Ms. Marvel's listing is also unsatisfactory with regards to the character's current portrayal. Alcoholics Anonymous does indeed have a strong religious component to it and it can act as a pseudo-religion for some of its members. Alcoholics Anonymous is not a "religion" for most people associated with it, however. Alcoholics Anonymous remains a recovering alcoholic and she did indeed attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for a time. Was Alcoholics Anonymous ever a religion for Ms. Marvel? It is difficult to say. Maybe for a short time it was, when she was at rock bottom and really relied on the organization to get better. But now Alcoholics Anonymous seems to have little or no part in Ms. Marvel's life. It is not clear if she still attends these meetings or needs to do so.
Kurt Busiek, long-time Avengers writer and the comic book scribe who for a time penned Ms. Marvel's adventures with the Avengers has suggested that Ms. Marvel utilized the book AA Without God. This suggests that Kurt Busiek considers Ms. Marvel an atheist or agnostic.
Ms. Marvel demonstrates a personal code of honor and generally ethical behavior, but she does not seem to have any particular concern for some specifically Judeo-Christian ethics or various ethical standards associated with particular religious groups, such as a distinctive health code, unusual modesty or a particular dress code, sexual ethics beyond broad societal norms, etc. Ms. Marvel is, in fact, viewed by the broader super-hero community as rather "conservative" in many ways, probably owing to her background as a soldier. Ms. Marvel was one of the first to declare her allegience to the pro-Registration side during Marvel's Civil War (2006-2007), and she was one of Tony Stark's closest allies in that ideological struggle.
At this time we are not aware of any comics which have overtly identified Ms. Marvel as agnostic or an atheist, but given the character's seeming lack of religious expression and Kurt Busiek's apparent opinion of her, "atheist" may be a reasonable classification. However, this may not be something that can be overtly verified by published comics. Given what we actually know about the character from published accounts, alternative possibilies seem viable as well.
Carol Danvers obtained her powers from a machine created by the technologically advanced alien Kree, who are traditionally one of the 3 or 4 most prominent space-faring empires in the Marvel universe.
When Ms. Marvel obtained her powers, the major religion among the Kree was the worship of the Supreme Intelligence, the artificial intelligence who was the leader of the Kree empire. Minority religions, such as Cotati or the religion to which the Kree-born hero Captain Marvel belonged, have always been suppressed by Kree authorities.
Carol Danvers herself, however, is a native of the United States of America on Earth. She has never lived among the Kree and she has never had any reason to follow Kree ways. Despite Kree technology being the source of her powers, Carol Danvers certainly does not subscribe to any Kree religion in any way.
Carol Danvers is a recovering alcoholic and (at least previously) regularly attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. She is sober and days of heavy problem drinking are thought to be behind her. Alcoholics Anonymous is classified as a pseudo-religion and it does proclaim a number of explicitly religious doctrines as part of its 12-step program for helping members overcome addiction to alcohol. For a small number of people, Alcoholics Anonymous functions as their religion, but this is not the case for Carol Danvers.
In her original solo series published in the late 1970s, Ms. Marvel was a somewhat feminist character. This was during the height of the American Feminist movement, and the propsed "Equal Rights Amendment" (ERA) was still a part of America's popular consciousness. Ms. Marvel began publication in 1977, just a few years after support for ERA had crested. The deadline for ratification of the amendment was March 22, 1979, or about the same time that the Ms. Marvel series was cancelled.
Although Ms. Marvel in her civilian identity was a professed feminist, and the editor of Woman magazine, the character was never a Feminist Extremist and was never a caricature of Feminists. Although Feminism functions as a religion for a minority of self-described Feminists, this was never the case for Carol Danvers. She was a feminist, but her "religion" was not Feminism.
Carol Danvers' overt feminism seems to have largely been forgotten in recent years, and she may well view such the "Feminist" label as unnecessary or counterproductive in today's world. The contemporary Ms. Marvel has a stated goal of becoming known as one of the world's greatest, most popular superheroes. She appears to have no interest in radical or divisive political issues.
From: "Carol Danvers" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Danvers; viewed 17 April 2006):
Carol Danvers became Ms. Marvel after she was subjected to the "psyche-magnitron", a device of Kree origins. Her DNA was altered to resemble that of the Kree and in the process she also gained superhuman strength and durability, the ability to fly and a "seventh sense" apparently a sense beyond that of the "normal" sixth sense, which provided her with premonitions. Her first costume was based directly on Mar-Vell's second costume, a red outfit with blue mask, gloves and boots; her second, more prominently featured costume was a blue ensemble with a stylized lightning bolt across the chest, along with a red sash around her waist.
The [Ms. Marvel] series began with Carol experiencing blackouts during which she was transformed into her alter-ego of Ms. Marvel. Soon both Carol and Ms. Marvel learned of each other and acted as one mind soon after. Carol became editor of 'Woman' magazine under J. Jonah Jameson and began dating her psychologist, Michael Burnett. As Ms. Marvel, she fought a number of villains who would go on to become prominent supervillains, including Mystique, Deathbird, Modok, AIM and the Scorpion (in her debut issue). Many of these villains were co-created by writer Chris Claremont, who would amplify Ms. Marvel's already prominent feminist characteristics.
Ms. Marvel's solo series was cancelled with #23.
Excepts from: "Ms. Marvel" page on "DC Marvel Universe" RPG website (http://p103.ezboard.com/fdcmarvelrpg48705frm8.showMessage?topicID=219.topic; viewed 17 April 2006):
Carol is a warrior at heart. Both her human and Kree experiences have shaped her perspectives and her personality. She often thinks and responds as a trained soldier and warrior, and this plays a strong role in how she reacts in various situations. She can be fierce, ruthless and brutal in battle. She does what needs to be done and this militaristic determination can sometimes come across as cold and callous. She is incredibly assertive, straight-forward and downright bold in many situations, both in battle and in her personal dealings. Though this warrior attitude gives her direction, Carol has over time become dependent on alcohol. Ignoring the dependency at first, she has started to become aware of this danger and has sought out help. She has joined Alcoholics Anonymous and has managed to maintain her sobriety, though the demon that is alcohol is ever present...
Due to her connection to the Kree Warrior, Captain Mar-vell, Carol's own memories have been merged with his. As a result, she possesses a comprehensive knowledge of Kree language, culture, religion, politics and customs; and she can draw on this comprehensive knowledge. This comes through in her language and she often will use Kree exclamations like "Pama!" or "Hala!" However, despite her links to the Kree, Carol bears no true emotional ties or commitments in the Kree beyond her relationship with Captain Mar-Vell. She is physically half-Kree, but clearly identifies as a Terrene. Her loyalty, identity and emotional ties are to Earth and she professes no attachments to the Kree.
Carol has in fact clashed with the Kree on numerous occasions and has been on the receiving end of the painful side of Kree politics and war-making. In the past, she has aided the Avengers against the Kree Supreme Intelligence and bears no ill feelings towards the team for their involvement in the fall of the Kree Empire during "Operation: Galactic Storm". In addition, she has spent a great deal of time among alien races while with the Starjammers including the Shi'ar, the Brood, the Sidri, the Technarch, and the Mephisitoids, and these contacts, along with her memories of their ways, have helped Carol to survive...
Carol Susan Jane Danvers grew up in the suburbs of Boston. The only daughter in a large family, she spent her early years competing with her brothers. Carol's father was a classic chauvinist and refused to send Carol to college, so instead, Carol entered the Air Force upon graduating from high school to pursue her love of aircrafts and her dreams of flying. She was a top student at the Air Force Academy and enjoyed a rapid career advancement rising to the rank of Major. Because of her phenomenal performance, superb combat skills and natural intellect, Carol was recruited into the intelligence field. She ended up serving with the Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.), during which time she met and worked with Colonel Nick Fury, of S.H.I.E.L.D. She was partnered with Colonel Michael Rossi and the two became lovers...
Recently, Carol renamed herself Warbird and rejoined the Avengers following a reality-warping conflict with Morgan le Fay. She brought with her a whole new set of problems. Her powers were slowly depleting and she tried to hide this fact from the Avengers, which lead to a conflict with Captain America. Carol had also developed a drinking problem, which was immediately noticed by recovering alcoholic and fellow Avenger, Iron Man. Her drinking, coupled with her determination to prove herself a worthy addition to the Avengers and her secretiveness about her power loss, led to reckless grand-standing and sloppy teamwork. This eventually endangered the lives of her teammates and lead to a formal court martial before her fellow Avengers. Rather than face her problems and a forced demotion to reserve status, Carol quit the team...
She has recently aided both Iron Man and Wolverine in battle. She started to make some progress in accepting her alcoholism but refused to accept that she had a serious problem for months. After her drinking almost led to disaster in a number of combat situations, Carol was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. Carol's doctor warned that she had done considerable damage to her internal organs and that another drink might kill her. This diagnosis combined with the knowledge that she had nearly killed a planeful of people during a drunken rage have forced Carol to admit the severity of her drinking problem. Carol has now accepted that she is an alcoholic and has started attending AA meetings on a regular basis.
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion... I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising... Others are obvious...
But this being comic books, it's not too long until things start getting a bit less clear... And some are just silly. Here are a few characters and their religious affiliation as listed: Bart Allen... -- "Zen Speed Force."... Ms. Marvel--"mildly feminist; Alcoholics Anonymous."...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=9326f642dca06ede764bcd691814750c&t=299781; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-03-2006, 10:11 PM
Re: The religion of comic book characters
...There are even a number of non-religions listed, and I'm not talking about religions created for the comic book setting... I won't get into the liberal marxists, gypsy/roma ties, pro and con abortion rights activists, Alcoholics Anonymous, or anything else inappropriately listed as a religious affiliation...
From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
Aug 14 2006, 04:49 PM
I didn't know Hating Spiderman (J. Jonan Jameson) and Mildy Feminist, Alocoholics Anonymous (Warbird) could be considered religions. I belong to the Loves Captain and Coke religion.
Aug 14 2006, 06:17 PM
...Since when is Communist, Liberal Marxist, "fair play", animal rights, mildly feminist, Alcoholics Anonymous, pro-abortion activist, Nazi, obsession with duality, and hates Spider-Man a religion???
From: comments to "Comic Book Heroes Faith-by-Faith" post on "Give Me a Pony" blog website, 21 June 2006 (http://givemeapony.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-book-heroes-faith-by-faith.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
It's an interesting undertaking, but when you really start digging into the complete list (at http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html) and are a supercollossal dork with an entire room devoted to comics, you see lots of flaws... and a few are flat-out wrong or bizarre...
Also, they've invented a few weird new sects for the list, such as "Cajun Catholic", and list things like "GLBT", "animal rights" "mildly feminist" (!), and my favorite, "Hates Spider-Man", as religious affiliations. And can you really be a lapsed Jew?
...Anyway, I'm off to practice my religion of mild feminism. ;)
From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion started 19 June 2006 on the "James Randi Educational Foundation" website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):
19th June 2006, 06:03 AM
The Church of Superman
Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?
19th June 2006, 10:26 AM
I read a couple of entries (mostly for characters I'm familiar with) and it seemed reasonably even-handed, although... I think they need to retitle their "Religious Affiliation" column in the tables, when they list such things as "feminist" and "hates Spider-Man"...
19th June 2006, 12:01 PM
...Admittedly, some of the statements are fair guesses... since when is "midly feminist/ alcoholics anonymous" a religion? (Check the entry for Ms. Marvel.)
From: "Atheist representation on the Avengers" forum discussion started 20 June 2001 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/avengers/view.php?trd=010620110715; viewed 24 May 2007):
Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:07:15 GMT
Atheist representation on the Avengers
The teams pretty well rounded now, but are there any atheistic members?...
Posted by Kurt Busiek on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:37:47 GMT
re: wouldn't Tony's long, hard experience with the bottle have altered his beliefs in God somewhat?
Not necessarily. There are AA programs for atheists, as well -- they're written about in a book called AA WITHOUT GOD, and I imagine both Tony and Carol Danvers have copies, right next to the Big Book...
Posted by Omar Karindu on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:27:02 GMT
...As stereotypical as it seems, I'd assume Living Lightning is Catholic (I believe that one of his solo stories in a WCA annual showed Catholic iconography in his house.)... Scarlet Witch may be a believer in some old mystic deities, and I've no idea what religion Quicksilver would be. Same with Wonder Man, who's been "dead." Warbird [Carol Danvers], I dunno either. She was in a church in Avengers v.1 #172, but she didn't really comment one way or another...
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 5:40 PM, Matt T. said:
...That Adherents site is nifty, but there's some hinky aspects to it... The site also gives Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) the label "feminist, Alcoholics Anonymous" and Animal Man (Buddy Baker) as "animal rights", none of which are religions (regardless of how occasionally heavy handed Morrison was with that whole bit). That's just... off to me, for some reason, like the site's owners didn't bother to do more research into the labels and just figured if they're passionate about a certain aspect of politics - feminism, animal rights, social justice - it's the same thing as being a Catholic or a Baptist. Just came off as lazy to me.
From: "Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes" forum discussion, started 17 November 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-152692.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
11-18-2006, 12:13 AM
...A lot of the stuff on this list makes little sense or just plain made up.
11-18-2006, 12:33 AM
J. Jonah Jameson: Religious Affiliation - hates Spider-Man
Ms. Marvel - Carol Danvers: Alcoholics Anonymous
From: "The Religious Affiliations of Super Heroes", posted 27 June 2007 by Elizabeth "I'm Pro-Accordion and I Vote!" B. on Gather.com website (http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977041058; viewed 2 July 2007):
Okay, anyone could have guessed that Shamrock, a.k.a. Molly Fitzgerald, would have to be Catholic. But did you know that Superman is Methodist? The Shadow is a Buddhist? Who knew?
A website, www.comicbookreligion.com, attempts to catalogue our Superfriends by religion and ethnicity...
For Your Information:
Sasquatch is Jewish, as is Captain Underpants.
Ms. Marvel's religion is "mildly feminist" (!)
Sandy F., Jun 27, 2007, 11:32am EDT
Feminism is not a religion. Maybe they are giving the "offspring" the religion of its author, the way people do with children?
This is weird, and funny. thanks for sharing.
DawnSelena MK, Jun 27, 2007, 1:04pm EDT
Feminism certainly COULD be considered a religion, by some...
LOVE this article, E!
the kitchenMage, Jun 27, 2007, 3:34pm EDT
Only the idiotic or uninformed would consider feminism a religion. Are Captain Underpants tight enough that we can tell his religion?
Despite the name of the page in the following source, it is not clear how "authoritative" this source is. This appears to be simply the viewpoint of one dedicated comic book fan. From: Jim Trabold, "Ultimate Marvel Handbook #19: (174)", posted 21 July 2006 in "Comics Nexus" section of "Inside Pulse" website (http://www.insidepulse.com/article_v3.php?contentid=49881; viewed 17 July 2007):
Hello everyone I'm Jim Trabold welcome to the Ultimate Marvel Handbook.
Hey Daron how are you today bud?
I'm pretty good. I'm curious though if anyone reading this column doesn't know who you are? I just find it interesting that you introduce yourself every week. I wonder if you're trying to reach the same mythic "new" readers that the comic industry is always preaching about.
I'm good. I'm missing out on SDCC but I'll make up for it next year. I still plan on reading the news and all coming from the con though. Can't wait for WW Chicago now.
Oh sure, you're gonna go to Chicago this year, and I can't make it.
Yeah that's enough con talk for now lol. Let's start.
[Question] 18 - I know that in DC, Batman (rumored), Atom, Starman, Booster Gold and Mr. Terrific are atheists, besides Wolverine and Hulk who else in Marvel is also confirmed or considered as the same?
[Answer:] Wolverine and Hulk actually do have faith in religion in their own manors. Hulk would be Bruce's religion Catholic and Wolverine was for a while but now is Buddhist.
As for confirmed atheists:
From: "The New Improved Official Stupid Question Thread Marvel Edition" forum discussion, started 3 July 2004 on "Superhero Hype" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/archive/index.php/t-124699-p-15.html; viewed 11 August 2007):
07-17-2007, 07:50 AM
Stupid (and disturbing) question: Was Ms. Marvel really impregnated by her SON???!!!??
07-17-2007, 12:09 PM
Yes, in a sense.
She was impregnated by Immortus' son Marcus. When she had the kid, (which grew at an unnatural speed.) it was in fact, Marcus. Not really what I'd call getting pregnant by her own son more like her lover from Limbo used her as a Transport or flesh train if you will to get into this world. Kinda like Aliens only less messy.
07-17-2007, 12:13 PM
Maybe Not as messy, but I seem to recall it still counts as a "Women in Refrigerators" occurrence.
07-17-2007, 12:18 PM
I don't see why. If a man had a uterus, I suppose it would have been possible to have had, I don't know, Captain America be the mommy/dad, but that's not the case.
07-17-2007, 12:39 PM
Here's the quote from the WIR [Women in Refrigerators] web page:
Ms. Marvel I/Warbird (mind-controlled, impregnated by rape, powers and memories stolen, cosmic-powered then depowered, alcoholic - SHEESH!)
07-17-2007, 12:40 PM
He didn't rape her. At least I don't THINK he did. [confused emoticon]
Maybe some kinda Mind control which in that case would be rape, but I'm not sure. Been awhile since I read through Avengers Forever which explained it pretty well.
07-17-2007, 12:47 PM
I think it was mind control. I remember reading that Carol wasn't too happy about the fact that he friends just seemed to accept the whole Marcus thing without question, but it has been a long time.
07-17-2007, 02:02 PM
Yes it was mind control. Marcus abducted Carol to Limbo and romanced her. But it took "a subtle boost from my machines" (That's close to an exact quote) to get her to make love to him. Then he sent her back to Earth, with no memory of what happened in Limbo and apparently pregnant without explanation.
Jim Shooter has written some good stories but, damn, I wanted to knock him upside the head over that one!
Webpage created 17 April 2006. Last modified 11 July 2007.
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