Captain Marvel has just blasted her way into theatres, introducing our last Endgame contender Carol Danvers. The movie sets her origin story more than a decade before The Avengers first teamed up. Resulting in too many Easter Eggs and secret MCU connections for fans to possibly catch in one viewing. Luckily, we’re here to help.
Watch out spoilers incoming.
Stan Lee As Stan Lee (In Mallrats)
The typical Marvel Studios logo at the beginning of the movie was given a Stan Lee-themed shake-up. With clips of the various heroes replaced with shots of the much-missed Marvel creator’s past cameos. This is an undeniably moving tribute to our main man Stan Lee, but this was probably the best of all.
When Carol boards a train to hunt down a Skrull, she passes Stan as he reads a script titled Mallrats. Repeating his iconic line “trust me, true believer” over and over. Fans who know their stuff will remember that Lee appeared in the Kevin Smith movie of the same name in 1995. The very year Captain Marvel is set. So, for the first time since Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Stan’s actually playing himself.
The Last Blockbuster
Believe it or not, the scene where Carol Danvers smashes into the last Blockbuster Video store was shot at a Blockbuster. More specifically the last Blockbuster Video store in America, located in Bend, Oregon. A title it now holds after the other Alaskan stores were forced to close up shop. But there’s one extra detail to the store itself that fans shouldn’t miss. Blockbuster Video made the change to simply “Blockbuster” in 1996. In the timeline of the film, that’s still one year away.
Talos And The Skrulls
The shape-shifting Skrulls make their long-awaited MCU debut in Captain Marvel. As things develop, it becomes clear that the movie versions are different from the ones in the comics. The Skrulls are typically portrayed as the enemy but Captain Marvel casts them as homeless refugees in need of help. It’s a creative spin on the source material that comes with some timely social commentary, too.
As such, the movie puts a twist on the characters and concepts it pinches from the page. Talos is a Skrull leader in the comics as well but he’s nowhere near as sympathetic as he is in the film. Plus, he doesn’t have the ability to change his form. As for Torfa, the planet where some Skrulls have settled after the loss of their homeworld. That’s also a place for refugees in the comics but not Skrulls. It’s also mined for vibranium, something not mentioned on screen.
Arguably, what the Skrulls are best known for is the Secret Invasion storyline in which they assimilate their way into Earth’s society in order to quietly take over. This is alluded to in Captain Marvel via Yon-Rogg’s description of Skrulls’ tendency to “silently infiltrate” the planets they attack. In this case, it turns out to be mere propaganda.
Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Cameo
Since it’s writer’s Kelly Sue DeConnick‘s modern version of Carol Danvers that made the jump to the MCU. It only seems right that the writer should get to jump in on the fun. Audiences can spot DeConnick in the 1995 version of Los Angeles, but they’ll need to keep a sharp eye out.
After Carol follows the passenger train all the way to its destination, she tries–but fails–to keep an eye on her target Skrull. Walking out into the crowds of passing commuters. It’s clear that the Skrull could now be anybody… including Kelly Sue DeConnick, who brushes past Carol. DeConnick is actually the first person Carol sees once stepping off the train, easy to spot thanks to her hair and signature spectacles. She gives Carol a suspicious once-over, which Carol all too happily returns.
Maria Rambeau is Carol Danvers best friend. Maria isn’t a particularly important figure in Marvel lore but her daughter Monica is. Carol Danvers might be the star of the movie, yet it’s Monica Rambeau who has the honor of being the first woman to be known as Captain Marvel.
Monica has a long and storied history in the comics, going by numerous superhero names including Spectrum and Pulsar. She’s likely most remembered as Photon. A name that got referenced in Captain Marvel via Maria’s call sign in the Air Force – as painted on the side of her plane.
So, will her daughter take on her mom’s nickname when she grows up and gets powers of her own? It’s possible, as the film even alluded to the fact that Monica could gain abilities like her auntie Carol’s. When Monica says she wants to be like Carol, Fury says she needs to learn to glow first – which, if her arc is anything like the source material, she will.
As part of the reveal of Carol’s past, we learn that her mentor Dr. Wendy Lawson was in charge of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. A joint effort between NASA and Air Force to study the Tesseract in a bid to create lightspeed space travel. Lawson’s personal connection to the project was the hope that she could end the Kree/Skrull war.
Though Lawson was murdered by Jude Law’s Yon-Rogg, Marvel fans know that Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. didn’t end with her. P.E.G.A.S.U.S. is the name of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s investigation into how to harness to power of the Tesseract. It was first given a namecheck by Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 before he saw it in action in The Avengers.
The project was rendered defunct when Loki stormed the P.E.G.A.S.U.S. facility and stole the Space Stone from S.H.I.E.L.D. But we later learn in that movie that Fury was also looking to make weapons using the Infinity Stones’ power. We’re not sure Lawson would be best pleased that he was using her work to incite more war.
Nick Fury’s Trust Issues
Back in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury revealed to Steve Rogers that his trust in people has dwindled over the years as “the last time [he] trusted someone [he] lost an eye.” In Captain Marvel, we finally get to learn how Fury lost the use of his left eye: it was thanks to a nasty scratch from Goose.
The film does make sure to reference the “trust” part of Fury’s Winter Soldier line. However, after discovering that Goose is a Flerken, Fury tells the cat, “I’m trusting you not to eat me.” Well, this trust pays off to some extent as Fury isn’t eaten, but the temperamental creature does lash out at him all the same. Apparently, this act is what causes Fury to become a darker, less trusting soul.
The Avenger Initiative
Once Carol Danvers has disappeared back into space, we see that Fury is already working on a new project to ensure Earth’s protected in her absence. The file on his computer is initially titled “The Protector Initiative” before he notices that Carol’s call sign in the Air Force was “Avengers.” A light bulb moment hits him and Fury renames his idea “The Avenger Initiative.”
Obviously, you don’t need me to explain what the Avengers Initiative is, with the concept first being introduced in 2008’s Iron Man before Fury finally got to actualize it in The Avengers. It’s a big old retcon, sure, to belatedly give Captain Marvel a key role in the superhero team, but it does explain where Fury got the name from in the first place.
In the comics, Danvers was known as Cheeseburger in the Air Force after she infamously threw up her fast food lunch during training. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to Cheeseburgers: Endgame coming out next month.
Lawson, The Original Captain Mar-Vell
To the American government, she is simply Dr Wendy Lawson. But to the universe at large she is Mar-Vell, the original Kree superhero to bear the title ‘Captain Marvel.’ With a gender swap and some origin story re-imagining, of course.
Marvel Comic fans know that Carol Danvers is not the first to claim the title, Captain Marvel. It actually took years to accept the moniker out of respect for its original owner. To her, it was the name earned and owned by Mar-Vell, the Kree hero who accidentally passed his superhuman powers onto her. In the comic Carol’s Kree mother is the source of her powers. In the film, it’s Mar-Vell’s research that makes Carol superpowered, not her genes.
The first Captain Marvel post-credits scene isn’t so much an easter egg as a preview of what’s to come in Avengers: Endgame. The film’s second credits sequence, though, appears to be a mere extra bit of comedy but does actually call back to events of MCU past.
The short scene features Goose the
cat Flerken cough up the Tesseract onto Fury’s desk, after swallowing it. This tells us how the future S.H.I.E.L.D. director came to have the Space Stone by the events of The Avengers. Presumably, from this point on he restarts Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and continues to study what the Tesseract can do.
What’s more, fans have noticed that this Captain Marvel scene gains another level of foreshadowing when you remember Bruce Banner’s introduction in 2012. When Black Widow shows him a photo of the Tesseract, Banner sarcastically responds: “What does Fury want me to do? Swallow it?”. Well Bruce, based on his experience with Goose, maybe.