Captain Marvel Risks The Same MCU Power Problem As Scarlet Witch

Warning: SPOILERS for Marvel's What If...? episode 7, "What If... Thor Were An Only Child?"

The latest episode of Marvel's What If...? suggests Captain Marvel faces the same power problems in the MCU as Scarlet Witch. The MCU's version of Captain Marvel is very different to the character from the comics. In the MCU, Captain Marvel gained her powers from the Tesseract - the Infinity Stone that had been hidden on Earth for millennia, and was experimented on by Project PEGASUS. The Kree initially attempted to keep Carol Danvers in check, but they failed, and her powers expanded to an unprecedented degree.

But this new origin story has always raised a curious question; Why doesn't Carol Danvers ever run out of power? Her body is essentially a battery of Tesseract energy, but she could naturally only absorb so much. The law of conservation of energy states the energy cannot be created or destroyed, so in theory every time Captain Marvel uses her powers - particularly when she goes Binary - she is exhausting the energy she has absorbed a little bit more. Fortunately, Marvel's What If...? episode 7 provided an unexpected solution to this problem, because it revealed Carol Danvers' body absorbs energy from around her. Captain Marvel absorbed Mjolnir's power without any conscious effort, so presumably her body is naturally absorbing the energy around her at all times. Not only is she a battery - she's also a self-regenerating battery. This means Captain Marvel's power level isn't actually fixed at all, because her abilities may vary depending on the amount of energy she has absorbed into herself at a given moment.

Related: Every MCU Easter Egg In What If? Episode 7

What If...? episode 7 may have finally explained how Captain Marvel's powers work in the MCU, but it leaves Carol Danvers faced with the same kind of issue Scarlet Witch is dealing with in Phase 4. If Captain Marvel's body is always absorbing energy, then it's reasonable to assume there is still a limit to the amount she can take into herself. It's a high limit - she absorbed a lightning bolt from Mjolnir that would have even impressed Hela - but it must exist nonetheless. That means it will be theoretically possible for Captain Marvel to be overloaded, leading her powers to flare out of control in a more destructive manner than Wanda Maximoff's.

This theoretical upper limit is actually quite important on a conceptual level, because it may help prevent Marvel encountering the problem of "power creep." This term is borrowed from multiplayer games, and it refers to the need for new content to be more powerful than what went before. The power levels in the MCU are increasing at an exponential rate - even Shang-Chi is a powerhouse, because the Ten Rings are more powerful than Mjolnir - and so the threats the heroes face must increase in scale so they can feel as though they are really threatened. The Avengers have always been known as "Earth's Mightiest Heroes," but soon their might may well mean even a Thanos-level villain is everyday. The only way to avoid this power creep is to ensure superheroes have weaknesses and limitations.

DC Comics once experimented with a similar idea, granting Superman a "solar flare" ability that allows him to release all the energy he had stored within his body at once. Marvel could take a similar approach with Captain Marvel, meaning her ultimate release of energy - expelling the excess, reducing her power levels - is in itself a devastating attack that wreaks havoc on a surrounding area. That would be a smart way to twist this around, making a limitation a core part of Captain Marvel's powerset.

More: What If...? How Many Episodes There Are (And When The Finale Is)

Marvel's What If...? releases new episodes Wednesdays on Disney+

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