Captain Marvel is finally out in theaters and while it is set some 20 years prior to the current issues facing the Avengers following Avengers: Infinity War, the film offered a few intriguing clues to next month’s Avengers: Endgame and the ways Marvel’s newest hero may be involved in it. Also, there may even be some clues to the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe following the events of Endgame buried within Captain Marvel‘s plot. So let’s dive in and see what we can guess about Marvel Studios’ next few moves from its most recent release.
Of course, there are spoilers from here on out. Key spoilers in fact, so read on with caution.
While all the previous Avengers: Endgame trailers have kept her presence something of a secret, Captain Marvel’s mid-credits stinger scene confirmed what just about everyone assumed would be the case – Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) will be part of the fight against Thanos (Josh Brolin). While Carol was not part of the team dedicated to stopping Thanos in the comic book story The Infinity Gauntlet, her predecessor Mar-Vell took on Thanos a number of times prior to the Gauntlet storyline.
The release pattern of the two films certainly pointed to Carol’s presence in Endgame, but seeing her arrive at the Avengers base makes the team’s situation seem less dire. As seen in Captain Marvel, Carol is a powerhouse and potentially strong enough to physically restrain Thanos. And even when it comes to the Gauntlet, battered as it is at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, she may have an advantage.
Because the psyche-magnetron – source of Carol’s powers in the comics – was just a little too crazy for film, Carol’s powers derive from that old Phase I MacGuffin, the Tesseract. As we learn in Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell (Annette Bening) acquired the Tesseract in the 1980s and began using it to build a “light speed engine” capable of relocating the Skrull population far from the designs of the Kree Empire.
Her experiment never really worked out, though, as the Kree attacked her experimental craft. Once it crashed, Carol blew up the engine, saturating her body with the energy of the Space Stone. As Ronan (Lee Pace) remarks late in the film, she’s the real weapon.
And we think that might give her an advantage over Thanos if he tries to use the Gauntlet against the Avengers in Endgame. It is possible she may even be able to pry the Space Stone away from his control and make his absolute power a little less absolute. It may just be the thing the rest of the group needs to gain control of the Gauntlet and undo the Snap.
At least, that’s one guess. Tying her to the Tesseract and even the Avengers Initiative makes sense on a thematic level, but it also suggests a ways for the Avengers to succeed in Endgame.
In the stinger scene, we couldn’t help but notice that Carol hasn’t aged. We’re going to assume that has something to do with the Space Stone energy. And while that may not really be a point to address in Endgame, it suggests subsequent Captain Marvel movies may keep their options in regards to story wide open.
According to reports of Endgame footage screened for Disney shareholders on Thursday, Carol tells the Avengers she never returned to Earth because species other than the Skrulls needed her help. Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) page in the Infinity War credit sequence was the first indication Earth needed any sort of help. It suggests no one she knows out in the universe turned to dust, but she had to have noticed people vanishing en masse throughout her area of influence, right?
That could suggest the Infinity Stones are not as powerful as legend tells, but we expect the more important aspect of Carol staying away from Earth is to set up future Captain Marvel movies set between the first film and Endgame. Alternatively, her lack of aging opens the door to a Captain Marvel 2 set after Endgame. After all, she has to explain herself to Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) and Monica Rambeau (Akira Akbar) at some point, right? They cannot be pleased that her estimated return time of “before you know it” is 20-odd years later.
And now we have to wonder if either of them survived the Snap.
In one of the more pleasant and interesting turns within Captain Marvel, the shapeshifting Skrulls were not Carol’s ultimate enemy. Instead, we learn they are refugees from a Kree war of aggression. Their ultimate aim: escaping from the Empire’s grasp.
In our extensive look at the Skrulls, we noticed they only became aggressive after encountering the Kree, entering into a war that spanned millennia. We were inclined to believe that would be the case in Captain Marvel as well and that it might lead to a Skrull invasion of Earth following Endgame. But with the Skrulls only taking to battle to defend themselves and their nominal leader Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) becoming Carol’s ally halfway through the film, that Skrull secret invasion seems much less likely than it did a week ago.
Of course, we also took note of Mendelsohn’s Talos as he proclaimed “this is only the beginning” when he was reunited with his fellow Skrulls aboard Mar-Vell’s ship. That may just be an artifact of the actor playing so many bad guys of late, but it could indicate a heel-turn from the character or the alien race as a whole in a subsequent MCU phase. For the moment, we’re happy to see that aspect of Captain Marvel’s script defy expectations and introduce the Skrulls in a new, sympathetic way.
And while we’re pondering MCU Phases past Endgame, there is always the possibility Carol’s tie to the Space Stone will lead to her taking on a new role: its protector. After the events of the comics’ The Infinity Gauntlet, six people were chosen to take care of the Infinity Gems (as they were called at the time) in lieu of anyone obtaining the full powers of the Gauntlet again. The group included Gamora, Drax, Pip the Troll, Moondragon – two characters not yet seen in the MCU – and, shockingly, Thanos!
As in the comics, the Infinity Stones of the MCU cannot be destroyed, so everyone is better off knowing where they are rather than scattering them again only for someone (like, say, a Kree commander) to collect them and reassemble the Gauntlet.
Should such a plan become an aspect of the post-Endgame MCU, Carol is the obvious choice to guard the Space Stone. She’s already tied to it. The plan would also presumably see Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) reclaiming the Time Stone and the Mind Stone recreating Vision (Paul Bettany). Considering the end of The Infinity Gauntlet, the Soul Stone could be entrusted to Thanos or it could returned to the Red Skull (Ross Marquand) – interesting that the Soul Stone would be safest in the possession of a villain – with the Reality Stone choosing to stay with the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Though her power originally came from the Mind Stone, she has been color-coded with the Aether from the get-go. And considering her character’s comic-book past, she might be tempted to use its power to resurrect her brother … and bring a few of his friends from another reality with him.
And the perfect guardian of the Power Stone? It sure as hell ain’t Peter Quill (Chris Pratt). But maybe the Guardians of the Galaxy as a whole could be entrusted with it. Then again, they’d probably lose it immediately. The Eternals are about to make their MCU debut, so they may eventually prove worthwhile custodians.
Wherever the Stones end up following Endgame, we doubt they will be reunited anytime soon. At least, not until Adam Warlock, a comic-book character tied to the Infinity Gauntlet, finally arrives in the MCU. But who knows when that will happen?
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters April 26, 2019.