Captain Marvel Trailer Breakdown and Analysis

Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, and the Captain Marvel trailer is loaded with Marvel history, easter eggs, and references.

The Captain Marvel trailer has finally arrived! Brie Larson stars as Carol Danvers, a United States Air Force officer who ends up wielding incredible cosmic powers. Set in the 1990s, Captain Marvel looks to introduce some key elements of Marvel Comics history to the MCU, including the Skrulls and the earlier days of Nick Fury.

Watch the Captain Marvel trailer here if you haven’t already (or watch it again, because it rules), and then we’ll get down to business…

OK, now let’s get down to it…

So, what I’m not going to do is a shot-by-shot breakdown/explanation of everything you just watched. Instead, I’ll try and piece the clues together in an order that makes some kind of sense. That being said, in this case, it does make sense to start at the beginning…

The Setting

There’s no better way to remind everyone that this movie is set in the 1990s than to prominently feature a Blockbuster Video in the opening moments of the trailer.

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Carol landed in the “action” section of Blockbuster. Marvel Studios has been telling everyone that Captain Marvel has elements of ’90s blockbusters in it, so this is a cute in-joke. If this movie had actually been released in the ’90s, the action section of Blockbuster is where it would have been filed.

As to why Carol is doing a “woman who fell to Earth” thing so early on, well, I’ll get to that in a minute. 

There are some fun byproducts to this setting, though. Notably…

Check out Clark Gregg, convincingly digitally de-aged to a 1990s version of Agent Phil Coulson. We await word on whether he is actually obsessed with MC Hammer.

Here’s a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury… with both eyes intact. I’m willing to bet good money we learn how he loses his eye in this movie. Fury talks like he has been deep in the shit as a soldier, too. I hope we finally get some background filled in for what a Marvel Cinematic Universe version of his Sgt. Fury days would look like. He wasn’t around for World War II, like he was in the comics, so this will be some fresh backstory.

The Origin Story

So this is where things get tricky. It looks like Captain Marvel will deviate significantly from the Marvel Comics origin story. There, Carol Danvers was an Air Force officer, caught in an explosion, who ended up with powers. All that seems to be in place here, but there are some weird elements that throw everything into doubt.

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I’m guessing that this is part of an origin sequence, too. This is definitely pre-powers Carol Danvers, but she would appear to be flying an alien craft. Or maybe a Kree ship that was captured and reverse-engineered for a human pilot to fly.

This is definitely part of the origin sequence. Carol’s stance as she gets permeated by energy, as well as the energy patterns themselves, are kind of reminiscent of the logo on the Captain Marvel costume, aren’t they?

I’m also getting something of a Dr. Manhattan vibe from this.

Assuming I’m piecing together this correctly, something goes wrong with the Kree ship Carol Danvers is piloting, and this is how she ends up with powers.

Well, now we know what the Kree homeworld looks like! My question is: how does she end up here after she gets her powers? Why do they want her? Is she now a Kree super-soldier, ala Captain America?

The only explanation I can think of here is that Carol’s memories of her previous life on Earth are being overwritten or suppressed by Kree technology, so she can use her abilities in service of the Kree Empire.

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Carol’s Kree Starforce strike team includes Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva (on the right). I’m not sure who the Kree gentleman on the left is. Other photos from the movie confirm that Djimon Hounsou’s Korath the Pursuer from Guardians of the Galaxy is also part of this team.

The Kree Starforce first appeared in Thor #446 (1992), which, despite being an issue of Thor, is part of the Avengers event story Operation: Galactic Storm, which continued the fallout of Marvel’s Kree/Skrull War.

Here’s a look at Carol going into action with the Starforce. Good to see that the battle helmet comes into play at some point in the movie. We also get a nod to Carol’s controversial (and only occasional) fauxhawk, too.

Here’s an even better, cooler look at that helmet.

Here’s Jude Law, who is almost certainly, even with the tweaks to Carol’s origin, going to end up being the MCU’s version of Mar-Vell. He’s credited as Dr. Walter Lawson, which was one of Mar-Vell’s Earthly aliases.

This is the entry to some kind of secret base, presumably one connected to SHIELD. If Carol’s thumbprint can unlock it, that means she had pretty high security clearance before she was taken offworld.

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If that was indeed Carol’s thumb unlocking something, then it follows that this is probably what was being unlocked. So to support my origin story theories, my guess is that Carol was not only a badass USAF pilot, but probably deeply involved with testing reverse-engineered alien technology.

Just a theory, of course.

Please, please let there be at least one nod to John Carpenter’s Starman during Carol’s early days back on Earth. If you haven’t seen that movie, fix that. But, basically, in that movie, an alien entity takes the form of a woman’s (Karen Allen) deceased husband (Jeff Bridges), and cool, weird stuff ensues.

It might be cool if there’s some tension about whether Carol is actually still Carol, rather than a Kree construct in the form of Carol. It’s different enough from the comics, although the internal conflict this can create, as well as the amnesia element, also plays with some of the, um, less cool elements of Carol’s early comics history. 

Check out Lee Pace’s triumphant return as Ronan the Accuser! Ronan, of course, was the villain disintegrated by his own ambition and poor choices in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. But since Captain Marvel takes place roughly 20 years before that, they’re free to use one of the most famous Kree of all.


The Skrulls first appeared in Fantastic Four #2, but their finest hours have all come as broader Avengers/Marvel villains. This movie is clearly leaning into the Kree/Skrull War story by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, and Neal Adams, which ran through nearly a year of Avengers comics between 1971-1972. But don’t be surprised if the war isn’t resolved in this film, as there’s plenty of story potential for this down the road.

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You can read a little more about the Skrulls here.

Why would Captain Marvel punch a sweet old lady on public transportation? Well, that’s because the Skrulls are shapeshifters, they could be anybody, and this will probably have ramifications for the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well.

I kind of hope we get a nod to Star Trek IV‘s fish out of water comedy moments in this movie, too. It wouldn’t be the first Star Trek IV reference we had in the MCU, as Spider-Man: Homecoming featured the boom box dude from that film as… a boom box dude.

This is a cool shot. What we’ve got here is an alien autopsy, taking place in a secret lab, likely underneath the desert. We’ve seen alien autopsy type stuff in the MCU before, notably on Agents of SHIELD, where there have been Kree corpses hanging around in the back of labs since season two or so.

But this specific scene not only sees Nick Fury sitting in on the proceedings (any idea who the coroner and observer might be?) while brandishing an alien weapon of some kind, but it’s also a nod to the events that kicked off one of the most famous Skrull stories of all, Secret Invasion. Basically, the Avengers realize that the Elektra they had been fighting was a Skrull, and that’s when they realize there’s a problem, as it means the ranks of Earth’s heroes and villains have been infiltrated by the shape-shifting aliens.

The vintage SHIELD baseball cap, and thus “casual Carol” is absolutely going to become a stealth cosplay staple, isn’t it? Also note, that appears to be the Skrull autopsy happening in the background.

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My guess is that Carol wanders away as these surroundings begin to feel more familiar to her and more of her “human” memories are awakened.


On the left, we have Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeaux. If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s the mother of Monica Rambeaux, a character who has plenty of ties to the Captain Marvel name.

Here is the infamous pager from the Avengers: Infinity War ending. The one that will play heavily into how Carol is summoned to save the day in Avengers 4

Further reading – How Avengers: Infinity War Connects to Captain Marvel

Incidentally, if you had a pager that could send actual text messages like this in the 1990s, you may as well have been a SHIELD agent. Everyone else had to make due with cryptic pager stuff like 07734, 143, or… other stuff that only old people like me remember.

In case you weren’t aware, chief among Carol’s badass powers is energy projection.

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Not sure if this is a look at the Kree homeworld (Hala) from above, or a Kree strikeforce heading to some unsuspecting planet to fuck shit up.

Whatever this alien world is, it seems a little more beat up than the Kree homeworld we’ve already glimpsed. Could this be a look at the Skrull homeworld? Or is it just an example of the kind of devastation that the Kree can inflict on other worlds in the galaxy?

Does anyone recognize this ship?

I just want to take a moment to celebrate what an awesome design this Captain Marvel costume is, and once we get to the traditional, primary colors version, it should be a pretty special moment.

Arthur memes aside, the out of focus figure on the left would appear to be wearing an older version of a SHIELD jumpsuit. 

I’m sorry, but this is just extraordinarily badass.

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Captain Marvel opens on March 8, 2019. The full schedule of Marvel movie releases can be found here.

Mike Cecchini is the Editor in Chief of Den of Geek. You can read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @wayoutstuff.