Brie Larson makes her Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) debut as the title character and, as expected, the film leaves us with a lot of questions. Many of them, of course, stem from the inevitable post-credits scenes. Here's our spoiler-filled breakdown.
WARNING: CAPTAIN MARVEL SPOILERS AHEAD
Following Captain Marvel's defeat of treacherous Kree mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), she is tasked with a new mission. Her goal: to venture into the cosmos and find a new home for the persecuted Skrulls, including Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) and his family.
Midway through the credits, we pick up with some familiar faces. Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) are back at Avengers HQ assessing the catastrophic damage of Thanos' (Josh Brolin) finger snap. After all, it's not every day that you're faced with the destruction of 50% of all life in the universe.
But they have a potential lifeline: Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) pager, which Captain Marvel adapted at the end of her solo movie. She did this so that Fury could send out a message across the galaxy in case of emergency. The post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War showed Fury activating it before he crumbled into dust, and the remaining Avengers have now retrieved it.
How exactly they got hold of it remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it appears to have stopped working – and there's a reason for that: Captain Marvel has already arrived on Earth, to the shock of our beleaguered heroes. She then asks: "Where's Fury?" Cut to black – and no doubt cut to millions of impatient Marvel fans who can't wait for Avengers: Endgame to arrive in April. (Remember: it's out in the UK on 25th April.)
This leaves us with plenty of questions. Captain Marvel took place in 1995 and Avengers: Infinity War in 2018, so where has she been for all this time? Did she succeed in saving the Skrulls from total annihilation at the hands of the Kree? And, as per Yon-Rogg's instructions, has she learned to control her emotions and awe-inspiring binary powers in the intervening 23 years?
More specifically, how will her binary abilities mesh with those of the other Avengers? The climax of Captain Marvel revealed she can pretty much do anything – her powers were so strong that war-mongering Kree villain Ronan (Lee Pace) turned his battleship around and vowed to fight her another day. Can the rest of the team put their feet up while she battles Thanos, or will he tap into an undisclosed weakness?
Of course, given Captain Marvel's friendship with the ill-fated Fury, her battle with Thanos is going to be somewhat personal. Maybe he can exploit that as a vulnerability?
There's also no telling whether Captain Marvel's arrival in Avengers: Endgame occurs at the start or midway through the action – maybe at the point of this mid-credits scene, she's already come across Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) stranded in space and rescued him?
Let's not forget the post-credits scene in 2015's Ant-Man, with Captain America and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) confronting Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), turned out to be a sequence from the middle of the next MCU film on the roster, Captain America: Civil War.
One side-effect of this mid-credits scene is an alleged plot hole that fans have been swift to pick up on. If Fury knew about Captain Marvel's existence at the time of Avengers: Infinity War, and indeed earlier in the MCU, why did he not call on her before?
Marvel President Kevin Feige has addressed this: "Well, I'd say two things. One, she does say it's gotta be a real emergency, right? Yeah... The other thing I'd say is how do you know he never hit it? How do we know he never pushed it before? We've never seen him push it before. That doesn't mean he never did."
Samuel L. Jackson added that "we finally have an emergency that I feel warrants her presence". We feel that's something of an understatement...
The actual post-credits scene is more humorous, but carries equal significance. We see scene-stealing cat Goose jump onto Nick Fury's desk – remember the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent took in the feline/flerken at the end of Captain Marvel, despite the fact it scratched his eye out.
The creature then vomits up the Tesseract that it had devoured earlier in the movie, to prevent it falling into the hands of the Kree. This, of course, contains the Space Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones coveted by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. The scene finishes and while we're laughing, we're also left pondering.
Going by the Marvel timeline, this means the Tesseract remained on Earth, presumably under Fury's protection, between the events of Captain Marvel (1995) and those of Avengers: Assemble (2012). How did he shield it from wider scrutiny at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.? And is there dramatic potential for future Marvel movies set in the intervening 18 years that explore Fury's connection with the mystical artefact?
The emergence of the Tesseract in Captain Marvel came as quite a surprise, expanding its role within the MCU mythology. It first appeared in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger, utilised by World War II HYDRA villain Johann Schmidt/Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) for nefarious purposes. (How it arrived on Earth in the first place remains a mystery.)
In 1944, Captain America then crashed into Arctic pack ice with the object to prevent it falling into the wrong hands – he was later unthawed by Tony Stark's father Howard (Dominic Cooper), who retrieved the Tesseract.
In the post-credits scene of 2011's Thor, Fury asks for help in decoding the Tesseract's secrets from Dr Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), then under the influence of Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In 2012's Avengers Assemble the Tesseract was stolen by Loki who used it to open a portal on Earth to the invading Chitauri, before he and it were taken back to Asgard by his half-brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth).
Loki later cast a covetous look at the Tesseract in Thor: Ragnarok – it was revealed the object had been stored in the vaults of Asgard. Having stolen it again, Loki then paid the price at the start of Avengers: Infinity War when he was killed by Thanos, allowing the Tesseract to fall into the latter's hands.
There is, therefore, a gap in the chronology – as per the events of Captain Marvel, how did the Tesseract fall into the hands of Mar-Vell (Annette Bening)? Bening's Kree character went undercover on Earth as scientist Dr Wendy Lawson, acting as a mentor to Brie Larson's title character when she was still a human air force pilot known as Carol Danvers. These scenes are revealed in fragmentary flashbacks as Captain Marvel comes to terms with her past.
Lawson/Mar-Vell was planning to use the Tesseract as an energy core to help the Skrulls find a new home. If we're assuming the Mar-Vell flashback sequences occur immediately prior to the main events of the Captain Marvel storyline, that places them in the early-to-mid-1990s. What, therefore, was the role of the Tesseract between the 1940s and the 1990s? And will a future Marvel movie fill in the gaps, maybe in phase four?
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