This article consists of nothing but massive Captain Marvel spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here.
The Captain Marvel ending is more than just a satisfying conclusion to Carol’s origin story; it is a direct lead-in into Avengers: Endgame, and how Carol Danvers will play into that story. We break down all of the elements that you may or may not have understood in your first Captain Marvel viewing, and put them into the larger MCU context…
We finally learn the origins of the mysterious pager that Fury activated at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. For everything we’ve seen Fury deal with in the past few years, it’s interesting that he knew not to bother activating that thing until people started crumbling into dust. you would think he probably at least considered activating that thing during the Chitauri invasion of New York back in the first Avengers movie. Nevertheless, Fury has been around the block, so we probably shouldn’t question his judgment.
Now, the question of how Carol could rig an old pager to have a range of “a few galaxies” probably shouldn’t be examined too closely. Then again, neither should the logic of how she was able to rig pay phones to make interstellar calls. (Should we bring back RadioShack?) In any case, we know how Fury got that pager and its intended purpose. And perhaps, most importantly, we learn why Carol wasn’t around to help out during the events of the previous Avengers movies…
THE SKRULL HOMEWORLD
Carol was off helping the Skrulls find a new homeworld, and possibly dodging Ronan and the rest of the Accusers, who issued an ominous threat when she trounced them, something that takes her far out into space, and far enough out that she probably isn’t even aware of Thanos’ assorted Infinity Stone-collecting shenanigans over the last few years.
CAROL’S AVERSION TO AGING
Carol’s galaxy-crossing mission also gives us a convenient reason for why Captain Marvel is going to be roughly the same age in 2019 as she was in 1995: relativity! Carol has been traversing light years, and time passes differently for someone on Earth than it does for someone routinely traveling at faster-than-light speeds.
Unless we’re dead wrong because, um, that doesn’t seem to apply to the Guardians of the Galaxy, does it? Carol didn’t seem to do a whole helluva lot of aging between her “death” in 1989 and her return circa 1995, so presumably some combination of the explosion that gave her powers and the transfusion of Kree blood also slowed her aging process.
This movie basically establishes a chain of possession for the Tesseract from when it was last seen in the MCU timeline in Captain America: The First Avenger, to here, to The Avengers movie. Thanks, Goose.
MONICA RAMBEAU’S FUTURE
Monica, Maria’s daughter, is a kid with no powers but a badass mom who not only knows aliens are real, but is immediately empathetic and kind to them. When Carol comes back, Monica will be an adult. Maybe she’ll have powers by then, or perhaps she’ll get them in Avengers: Endgame or a possible Captain Marvel sequel. Maybe she’ll be a human badass who, taking after her mom, still helps saves the day, even is she isn’t superhuman. Either way, Lt. Trouble seems like she’s on the right trajectory for a future as a hero.
NICK FURY’S EYE
So, Fury lost his eye because of the severity of the scratch from a Flerken’s claw. This probably isn’t going to go over terribly well with a certain segment of fandom. Nevertheless, it does explain why Fury never spoke about the actual cause of his injury, using the assumption that it was just “classified.”
Sure, the existence of a “cat” whose maw is like an interdimensional Bag of Holding is probably classified enough on its own, but now we know that Fury probably didn’t want to talk about it because it isn’t exactly the most heroic story.
In the comics, by the way, it was shrapnel from a grenade in World War II that caused him to lose that eye.
THE PROTECTOR INITIATIVE
In the most overtly “prequel-y” moment in the entire movie, we now understand why Fury felt the need to form the Avengers Initiative in the first place. Captain Marvel establishes that, for all the crazy shit Nick has seen in his already-long military and government service career, up until Carol Danvers showed up, he had never encountered anything as threatening as a potential alien invasion.
You have to imagine his contact with metahumans in general was fairly limited, too. As far as we know, the only relatively-powered individuals in the MCU up until this point were Captain America (less a metahuman than someone advanced to the peak of human ability… and who also vanished nearly a decade before Fury was even born) and Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, tech-based heroes who probably operated in complete secrecy. Fury certainly would have been aware of them, but actual contact with anyone that could be considered a superhero? Probably wasn’t happening.
So Fury was understandably shaken enough by Carol’s abilities, the shape-shifting Skrulls, and the fascist Kree that he knew Earth would need some kind of superhuman defense force… but it would take over a decade before he could start putting it together properly. Never let it be said that Nick Fury isn’t a patient man. And if you’re going to be tasked with protecting Earth, what better name than “The Protector Initiative” right? Well…
Nick is inspired by Carol’s callsign on her plane, “Avenger” (in the comics it is the far less flattering “Cheeseburger” for reasons we went into in our mostly exhaustive Captain Marvel Easter eggs roundup) And, with Carol as the single most powerful being he has yet encountered (and by all accounts, she’s still more powerful than Thor in the present day), there’s your inspiration for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In case you have any doubt at all that Captain Marvel is going to be the cornerstone of future Avengers movies once the dust from Avengers: Endgame settles, let this put all of that to rest.