One of the longest-standing rivalries in the Marvel Comics universe is between the X-Men’s Rogue and Carol Danvers, the current Captain Marvel. While movie rights issues have kept their big screen counterparts separate, these two characters have deep entanglements going back decades. In the comics, their relationship is a soap opera for the ages.
This complicated relationship began in the pages of 1981’s Avengers Annual #11, which also happened to be the very first appearance of the X-Men’s Rogue, who at the time was still a member of the terrorist Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. This was a pretty packed issue, as it also saw the return of Carol Danvers to the Marvel Universe after a yearlong absence, and a rather controversial one at that.
In Avengers #200 a year earlier, Ms. Marvel was suddenly nine months pregnant overnight, and the father of the baby was unknown. She gave birth to a male child who grew up to adulthood in a matter of hours. He was revealed to be the time-traveling villain Marcus Immortus, who used Carol’s body to materialize into our world and escape from his dimension. Realizing he had to return to his dimension or die, he then “wooed” Carol and convinced her to go back with him. The Avengers agreed to let her go so that the two could “live happily ever after.”
Well, this development did not sit well with Marvel Comics writer Chris Claremont, who used to write Carol’s solo adventures in the pages of Ms. Marvel. So in Avengers Annual #11, Claremont wrote Carol back into the Marvel Universe. He reintroduced her as a mysterious blonde woman who was falling to her death off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Rescued by Spider-Woman before hitting the water, this “Jane Doe,” who was basically nonverbal and a total blank slate, was taken to a hospital, where it was revealed that she was none other than Carol Danvers herself.
It turned out that Carol’s powers and memories were completely drained by a teenage mutant named Rogue, who was introduced in this issue as a member of the mutant Brotherhood. Spider-Woman took Carol to Professor X, hoping that the telepathic mutant might be able to unlock Carol’s memories. He did unlock most of them, but some would be permanently lost due to what Rogue did to her, and she had lost her emotional connection to many of the memories she was able to get back. Furious at the Avengers for letting the creature who essentially violated her then abduct her, she left the team, letting them know in no uncertain terms that she felt betrayed by them. She chose to stay behind with the X-Men, despite being a non-mutant and having no powers.
But Carol’s time as a supporting character for the X-Men became contentious as well. Rogue, unable to control the flood of Carol’s memories that she had permanently absorbed, went to Professor X for help; at first, the X-Men balked at the notion of Rogue joining the team, but they ultimately relented. As for Carol, she’d acquired new cosmic powers and become the heroine Binary. But when she saw that Rogue has become an X-Men, she knocked her straight out of the mansion, furious that the young woman who stole her powers and memories was being given a pass. Carol left the X-Men around that time, unable to stand being so close to Rogue.
Over the rest of the ’80s, Rogue earned the X-Men’s trust as a team member, but Carol’s personality lingered within her mind. In fact, the two personalities would sometimes “trade off,” with Carol taking over Rogue’s body completely. There were even occasions where Rogue would wear Ms. Marvel’s old costume, much to Rogue’s own horror whenever she regained control of her body. While the real Carol was out in space having adventures as Binary, Rogue had essentially taken over Carol’s life on Earth.
This relationship finally came to a shocking end, during the time when the X-Men were living in the Australian outback. They were given the mystical portal known as the Siege Perilous. It could only be used once, and it granted any person who walked through it a new chance at life, essentially being reborn elsewhere. When Rogue walked through, she wound up literally split in two. The Carol part of her personality had a new body identical to Carol’s original; meanwhile, Rogue still had her absorbing powers, but lost the flight and super strength she had inherited from Carol.
But this version of Carol was corrupted by the Shadow King (an evil psychic entity that should be familiar to followers of the TV series Legion), and was going to kill Rogue, realizing that she and Rogue could not coexist in the same plane of existence. One of them would have to die, and it wasn’t going to be her. The two fought, but this “Carol” was then killed by Magneto, allowing Rogue to live. With Carol gone, Rogue regained her super strength and flight powers, and no longer had to worry about Carol Danvers being a part of her personality.
The real Carol would return to Earth years later and become Ms. Marvel again, and the two women would form a sort of truce.
But that was not the last time Rogue and Carol Danvers traded blows. Although she basically avoided crossing Rogue’s path for years, the two reunited and battled during the Avengers vs. X-Men event storyline in 2012. Now on opposing teams, the pair came to blows, and when Rogue tried to absorb Carol’s powers a second time, things got very ugly. But confronting her past with Rogue forced a change in Carol, as mere months later, she ditched the Ms. Marvel identity for good, and became Captain Marvel.
On the big screen, Rogue has been part of Fox’s X-Men franchise from the very beginning, but since Carol was not part of the X-Men character rights, their relationship has never been shown before in live-action. And with no Carol in the X-Men cinematic universe, Rogue never had super strength or flight. But with the X-Men joining the Disney umbrella soon, we could see this classic saga play out on the big screen before too long. Could we see Carol Danvers vs. Rogue in Captain Marvel 2? We’d know we’d be very down to see this dramatic rivalry play out on the big screen.
Images: Marvel Comics