Captain Marvel is another big theatrical success for Marvel Studios, but the film is raising more questions about the Marvel Cinematic Universe than it provides answers! While Captain Marvel definitely tells a standalone story about the rise of the first Marvel superhero in the 1990s, there are some big connective threads between the story of Carol Danvers, and the larger MCU saga that has, and well, come.
WARNING: Major Captain Marvel Spoilers Follow!
Of all the threads tying Captain Marvel’s past and future to the MCU, there was nothing more surprising than learning that the franchise’s main McGuffins, The Infinity Stones, played a direct role in the film. Not only that, but in what is arguably Captain Marvel‘s biggest reveal we learn that Carol is tied directly to one Infinity Stone in particular: The Tesseract, aka The Space Stone!
It turns out that Carol’s mentor on Project Pegasus, Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), was actually a Kree scientist of unique power named Mar-Vell, who was stationed on Earth as a spy. Mar-Vell defected from the Kree Empire after realizing she was on the wrong side of the Kree/Skrull war, and in her disguise as Lawson, she obtained the Tesseract as a power source to build a Light Speed Drive, which could take the surviving Skrulls to a galaxy far outside of Kree reach. Unfortunately Mar-Vell was discovered on Earth and ambushed by Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) when the drive was finished; Yon-Rogg killed Mar-Vell and tried to take the drive, but Carol chose to sacrifice herself, and blew up the device to keep it out of Kree hands.
The resulting explosion (and visual effects surrounding it) are the key details here. The sequence of the Light Speed Drive exploding, and Carol’s body absorbing the resulting energies, comes with two main color signatures: an orange energy that is burned into Carol’s skin, and the wave of blue energy from the Light Speed Drive that envelops her body and lights up her eyes. It’s never explicitly stated in Captain Marvel, but these two color tones suggest a combining of two ingredients that created Captain Marvel’s powers: namely, Mar-Vell’s unique photon-based energy, and the power of the Tesseract. The ending of Captain Marvel hints that Carol indeed shares some fraction of the Space Stone’s powers, if you consider the following clues:
- A climatic scene sees Carol accompany Talos and the Skrulls to the far reaches of the universe using the Light Speed Drive. In the final shot before they jump to hyperspace, it’s clear that Carol makes that jump while flying *next* to the Skrull ship in space, suggesting that the teleportational powers of the Space Stone reside in her, to some degree.
- In the mid-credits scene, the surviving Avengers on Earth are examining Nick Fury’s interstellar beeper, when Carol suddenly appears in the middle of their base. The way the shot is constructed, Carol’s appearance is sudden and unheralded, as if she simply appears in the room. Again, something entirely possible from someone who has the power of the Space Stone.
Captain Marvel’s Space Stone connection could be crucial for Avengers: Endgame and the battle against Thanos. It could mean that Carol either has a unique advantage over Thanos and the Space Stone, or that she has the type of vulnerability that will make her susceptible to Thanos’ control. That latter case was already repeatedly foreshadowed in Captain Marvel, as Carol is warned that what gave her her power, can also be used to take it away.
Avengers: Infinity War is now available on home video, and Captain Marvel is now in theaters. Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.