- New details and images from “Captain Marvel” suggest that the movie holds the answer to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after “Avengers 4.”
- The movie introduces the shape-shifting alien Skrulls, who invade Earth in the comics by posing as many popular characters.
- It also teases another superhero who could show up in future movies.
“Captain Marvel” is expected to be a game changer for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It features the first female character in the franchise to headline a solo film, and is directed by the franchise’s first female filmmaker, Anna Boden (along with co-director Ryan Fleck). And the title character was teased in “Avengers: Infinity War” as possibly the Avengers’ best hope in defeating Thanos.
There’s a lot riding on “Captain Marvel,” including the future of the MCU.
The “Infinity War” sequel, due in theaters in May 2019, will be a turning point for the franchise. Veteran actors have teased they are ready to depart, including Captain America actor Chris Evans, who said earlier this year that he’ll retire from the role after “Avengers 4.”
And executives have indicated that the current era of the MCU will come to an end with the movie: Disney CEO Bob Iger said in May that the MCU will try a “new franchise beyond ‘Avengers,'” and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has said that the “Avengers” movies are heading toward a “conclusion.”
But before “Avengers 4” points the MCU in a new direction, March’s “Captain Marvel” may lay the groundwork for what comes after that. The movie may take place in the 1990s, but it’s looking to the future.
Entertainment Weekly released new images and details from the movie on Wednesday that included the anticipated first look at star Brie Larson in the title role and a look at Samuel L. Jackson as a digitally de-aged young Nick Fury. But it was other details that signal potentially big things to come for the MCU.
In the movie, Ben Mendelsohn plays Talos, the leader of a shape-shifting alien race called the Skrulls who are at war with the Kree (Captain Marvel is half-human, half-Kree). EW revealed that Talos has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. in the movie.
The inclusion of the Skrulls in the MCU could eventually lead to an event-sized movie like “Infinity War,” and carry the franchise beyond just the “Avengers” movies, especially if the X-Men and Fantastic Four are introduced via the Disney-Fox deal.
A 2008 comic-book event called “Secret Invasion” revealed that Skrulls had been posing as many characters in the Marvel Comics universe for a number of years, including Hank Pym, Spider-Woman, and Elektra. The battle ends when Norman Osborn (a.k.a. the Green Goblin) shoots the Skrull queen. This makes Osborn a hero in the eyes of the world and he is appointed the director of H.A.M.M.E.R., an organization created to replace S.H.I.E.L.D.
The fact that a Skrull has already infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. in the MCU’s history means that the idea of a future movie loosely based on “Secret Invasion” isn’t a stretch: the MCU has already been inspired by other comic events like “Civil War,” “Planet Hulk,” and “The Infinity Gauntlet,” and if it wants to sustain itself for another decade without the Avengers as we know them, it will have to keep drawing on the content available in the comic books.
A more subtle detail paints a smaller picture for the MCU’s future: According to EW, Lashana Lynch plays Maria Rambeau, “one of Carol’s oldest friends” and a “top-notch Air Force pilot with the call sign ‘Photon,’ and she’s also a single mother to a young daughter.”
The young daughter mentioned is most likely Monica Rambeau, who in the comics is the superhero Photon (and former Captain Marvel). In fact, Larson’s Carol Danvers isn’t the only Captain Marvel in the comics: Jude Law’s character, Mar-Vell, was the first Captain Marvel in the comic books, and will be Danvers’ mentor in the movie.
This means Photon could be introduced in the future, which would expand the Captain Marvel film mythology even further (Marvel has already said that they plan to introduce Muslim superhero Ms. Marvel).
“Captain Marvel” doesn’t arrive in theaters until March 8, but the MCU’s future already seems to be shining bright.