Who the heck is Captain Marvel? Your guide to the new superhero movies

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LOS ANGELES — Very few people outside of comic book store regulars knew what “Guardians of the Galaxy” was before this past summer, and yet it’s now the biggest movie of 2014 so far.

Marvel hopes to continue that astounding success for years to come.

So when the studio announced its movie slate through 2019, there were character names and terms used that might be unfamiliar to a lot of moviegoers. But never fear — we’re here to explain.

‘Captain Marvel’

Set for July 6, 2018, the movie about Carol Danvers’ cosmic alter ego caused a lot of excitement on social media, especially among fans who feel that female comic book characters have gotten short shrift on the big screen (something which rival DC Comics recently addressed by announcing a “Wonder Woman” movie).

Captain Marvel first appeared in the comics in 1968, sharing the name of a once wildly popular character from the 1940s (which was the subject of a lawsuit with DC in 1952 for his similarities to Superman).

Marvel’s version of Captain Marvel was originally an alien officer, and the name has been transferred to multiple characters over the years. However, Captain Marvel achieved new popularity when Carol (previously Ms. Marvel) assumed the Captain’s mantle.

The character has been something of Marvel’s answer to Wonder Woman, so in some ways, it makes sense that she would be the star of its first female-led movie. (The long-rumored “Black Widow” movie appears to be on hold, at least for now.)

‘Black Panther’

The first black superhero in mainstream comics appeared in 1966, and will make his big screen debut on November 3, 2017.

Chadwick Boseman will portray the character (though he will be seen in the next “Captain America” movie first), who hails from the fictional African nation of Wakanda and is chief of the tribes there.

In the comics, he has been an on-again, off-again member of the Avengers, and even replaced Daredevil for a brief time.

In 2006, he married the X-Men character Storm, portrayed in the films by Halle Berry.

‘Doctor Strange’

Up until now, this is the character we’ve heard the most about, especially when it comes to plentiful casting rumors (most recently, Benedict Cumberbatch).

What we know is that the movie is out on November 4, 2016 (delayed from July), directed by Scott Derrickson.

And the doctor title is for real — he was a neurosurgeon before becoming a sorcerer.

Since 1963, anything involving the occult would eventually lead in the direction of the good doctor. (And check out that incredible cape!)

‘The Inhumans’

November 2, 2018 will see another Marvel movie, not necessarily based on a household name.

The Inhumans are actually a race of superhumans (not to be confused with the X-Men) that has a royal family. They’re a society in and of themselves. And it doesn’t hurt that they can live about 150 years.

There’s more than enough material here for what Marvel surely hopes will be a franchise of “Inhumans” movies.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’

Ever wanted to see Chris Hemsworth face off against himself?

Looks like you’ll get your chance in the third “Thor” movie (which co-stars fan favorite Tom Hiddleston) on July 28, 2017.

Ragnarok is a cyborg clone of Thor who is up to no good. This will almost certainly put the Superman vs. Clark Kent fight from “Superman III” to shame.

‘Captain America: Civil War’

As long rumored, Robert Downey Jr. will once again reprise his Iron Man role in this “Captain America” three-quel.

2006’s “Civil War” is one of the most memorable recent story arcs in Marvel Comics, with Cap and Iron Man coming to blows over the Superhero Registration Act, which requires anyone with powers to register themselves with the government. Tony Stark is all for it, but Steve Rogers, not so much.

‘Avengers: Infinity War’

This is the big kahuna, which will take place over two movies, releasing on May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019.

Marvel promises these two films will bring everything that preceded them to a head.

The 1992 comic book story involved many characters of the Marvel Universe, and followed up on a previous story arc setting up Thanos (most recently seen in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie) as one of the big bads of Marvel Comics.

This promises to be the big showdown between the Avengers and one of the most powerful villains of all.

The next five years will be huge for Marvel fans, no doubt about it.