So now that “Captain Marvel” has been released to the public, we have been given a bevy of information with regards to the greater MCU. The film, which serves as a prequel to most of the Marvel films and the Avengers Initiative, fills in the gaps of speculative information that fans have long been curious about, as well as posing new questions that will likely be answered in only a month’s time with the debut of “Avengers: Endgame”. Having said that, I understand the shelf-life for this post’s relevancy is quite limited, especially considering I am writing it before the website is officially published. At least this could end up being a fun time capsule to see how smart I thought I was.
Unlike my review of the film, this discussion will dive into the tedious world of spoilers and speculation. With that, I am cleared of any and all potential legal wrongdoing that is associated with being an ass that ruins things for people.
So, with that, let’s begin.
COULD CAROL DUNK ON THANOS?
This is a great place to start our discussion, as Marvel executive Kevin Feige has claimed that Carol Danvers is the strongest character in the MCU, and her inclusion in the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” has created much speculation that she will be brought in to clean up the Avengers’ mess. If she is really the most powerful character, she should simply show up, throw hands with Thanos, and everything will be fixed. At least, that is how many fans have interpreted Feige’s statement.
Well, aside from how obviously terrible that story would be, “Captain Marvel” seems to have given us enough information as to just how powerful Carol really is and whether or not she will save the day with her unstoppable unstoppableness. First off, do we really think Marvel, a franchise that has built an empire on purely entertaining films about relatable and compelling superheroes, will close off their most ambitious project to date by introducing a character that will simply out-muscle their problems? Like I said, that would be a strangely bad story for Marvel to produce at any point, let alone the singular climax of the franchise.
On top of that, there have been reports that “Avengers: Endgame” will exceed 3 hours of runtime. Considering the post credit scene from “Captain Marvel” shows Carol meeting up with the Avengers on Earth in what I can only assume is still fairly early in Endgame’s runtime, it would seem unlikely that she just shows up, kicks ass like its nothing, then bails to have more unseen space adventures. So, perhaps her singular impact was overblown by misinterpretation of Feige’s words.
Now, that is not to say that Carol isn’t crazy powerful. She is likely the most powerful Avenger, if not tied with Thor with Stormbreaker. She will likely act as one of the team’s heavy hitters against Thanos, and that is ok. It doesn’t break continuity to have an absurdly powerful character in a world of thunder gods and green rage monsters. The good news is, we have been given enough information in “Captain Marvel” to realistically understand just how powerful Carol is and how she could stack up against other heroes and villains in the franchise.
It is shown that Carol gets her powers from absorbing the explosion of her mentor, Mar Vel’s, lightspeed engine that was fueled by a power core from the Tesseract. This is basically all we need to know to understand what makes her tick as a superbeing.
The Tesseract has been around the MCU since “Captain America: The First Avenger”, where the evil Hydra was weaponizing its power under the direction of Red Skull. It was later revealed that the Tesseract was the body that houses the Space Stone, one of the six all powerful Infinity Stones. We’ve seen the Space Stone act independently a few times in the MCU, where it was shown to transport people across the universe instantaneously, such as Red Skull to Vormir to watch over the Soul Stone and Loki’s army to New York City in the first Avengers film. And considering Hydra was using it to power weapons and Carol uses it to power her photon blasts, the Stone is confirmed to be a wild energy source. There is no question that it is an immensely powerful artifact.
Because the rules of acquiring superpowers are very fluid, it is never fully understood what Carol did to gain her powers, but I am going to assume she just acted as a sponge and absorbed the explosion. In my mind, this gave her the power of the Space Stone within her body. We have no confirmation that this is exactly what is the case but we also have no reason to assume this is not what happened. So, she’s a pseudo-Space Stone in a living body, and I understand why the idea of that seems like the character is too overpowered to be compelling. However, we have already had a character that was fueled singularly by an Infinity Stone: The Vision.
The Vision is an android powered by the Mind Stone, and was seen to be exceptionally powerful and wise. While he was a major factor in defeating Ultron, another powerful android, he was not singularly the reason for the victory. And after that, Vision was not a one-man wrecking crew in any of his appearances. He was simply a powerful hero that had his niche when it called for it. And, let us not forget that Thanos literally ripped the Mind Stone out of his head to kill him. I look at Vision as the best reference point we have for how Carol would stack up one-on-one to Thanos.
But I am not done there. I am about to dive into the dark realm of simple math. I apologize in advance.
Do you know who also has the power of the Space Stone? Thanos. Yup, he has the real thing. Oh yeah, he also has 5 other Infinity Stones too. 6 is more than 1, at least the last time I checked. Assuming Carol is somehow stronger than Vision because of some corny BS about the human spirit or whatever, the most conservative of estimates say he is at minimum 4 and a half Infinity Stones more powerful than her. I mean, the big purple dinosaur did just snap his fingers and kill half of everything everywhere. Methinks we don’t need to worry about her being too powerful. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT FURY’S EYE?
We finally got the backstory as to why Nick Fury wear that eye patch, and to my disappointment, it was not because he secretly wanted to be a pirate but his unsupportive parents pushed him into military service, the eye patch serving as a painstaking reminder of the childhood that was taken away from him, as it just sits there, menacingly on his face, tormenting him in the rotting pit of his soul. A real missed opportunity for character development if you asked me.
What little information we knew prior to “Captain Marvel” was that Fury said he lost his eye because he decided to trust someone and it came back to bite him. A very general backstory that served its purpose well enough. I am sure a lot of people were eagerly awaiting seeing the actual situation that led to the dismemberment of a young Samuel L. Jackson’s pretty face on screen. I, however, was not one of those people.
As you may know by now, I am a big Star Wars fan, and an area of film that Star Wars fan’s have a specific experience in is the execution of prequel films. While seeing the events that were only mentioned before can provide a sense of closure and realism in a fictional world, it does eliminate a sense of mystery that surrounded the reason the story was so compelling in the first place. In Star Wars, we have seen prequels tell us why Darth Vader fell to the Dark Side of the Force, and for a lot of the fan base, the canonical explanation that was given via the prequels was a less than satisfying one. The ideas we built in our head felt more fulfilling than the story that was considered official, and while the story has been greatly expanded in subsequent years to create a much more appropriate narrative, it doesn’t change the fact that there is something about the mystery of the ominous villain in all black that can never truly be recaptured. Similarly, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” did nothing but reveal details of stories about a character that were purposely enshrouded in mystery to create an intentionally unrealistic description of the character of Han Solo. Once we saw what Han actually did, him bragging and lying in the original films no longer has the same impact.
What “Captain Marvel” did with the story of Nick Fury’s eye is remove any and all mystery surrounding it. Maybe what he said was true. Maybe it wasn’t. We used to be able to speculate wildly. Now we’ve been given an answer and to many, the answer is unsatisfying because it did not match our expectations.
In the film, we saw Goose, an alien that looks like a cat, scratch his eye out. It was a funny moment until you really think about it. Something so impactful was relegated to a quick sight gag. What is worse is that in the earlier part of the film, Fury was involved in a car wreck because his partner, a young Agent Phil Colson, was actually a Skrull in disguise and they were brawling while driving a car. After the accident, it is revealed that Fury needed stitches above his eye, however, it was only used as a tease. This scene fits he criteria of trusting someone and it being his undoing, but as a way of subverting expectations, the film brushes past this opportunity in favor of a joke later on.
But have no fear people, for I come bearing a solution! Ignore it! It actually does not change a thing if you don’t accept it. Goose scratches his eye out after the main conflict ends. It was like the filmmakers almost forgot to show it, panicked, and threw it in at the end. Or they just wanted the entire film to show a young Samuel L. Jackson with an unobstructed face and I personally cannot blame them for wanting that. But that means it had zero impact of the plot. The important thing is that he lost his eye, and the film already gave us a better moment in the car crash. So, like I said, your best move is to ignore it and pretend he lost his eye when the Skrull impersonated Colson. It fits better and does not change the meaning of anything that happened on screen. There is no rule saying you cannot make your own personal retcon to a story, and there is no better time than at this inconsequential juncture.
In the end, I personally do not care about how his eye was lost. I never wanted to see him lose it, and if the film decided to omit that moment in his character’s growth and relegate it to an offscreen moment, as it was, I would have been ok with it. Even if it is unsatisfying that he got it scratched out by a cat, it doesn’t bother me because it never bothered me how he actually got it. He uses it to remind himself and others not to blindly trust anyone, and that won’t change because of this.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
It is no secret that the MCU is about to host some major changes to the status quo. I mean, technically major changes already happened when major heroes such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Dr. Strange were dusted into oblivion, but none of those felt destined to be permanent. To be real, I think everyone truly believed that those who survived Thanos’s snap were actually in more danger than anyone who was taken out. With that in mind, all of the original Avengers are still kicking which means their time is potentially up, not to mention the fact that many of the stars have expiring contracts that have not been renewed. It may be that we are about to see the last of team leaders Iron Man and Captain America after the conclusion of “Avengers: Endgame”.
With what seems like an imminent power vacuum on the horizon, many assume that Carol will step up and fill the need for leadership. Well, that is what we’ve been told at least. But do we really feel as though that is rightfully her position to take?
I will admit, a lot of this speculative discussion is based on the idea that specific people kick the bucket in “Endgame”, but some seem like safer bets than others. For the sake of this discussion, let us assume that Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are the only two of the original Avengers to die in the upcoming film. How does Carol fit into the hierarchy of authority in the Avengers’ world?
Honestly, her case is not that strong at the moment. The way things currently lineup, she has zero relationship with anybody on Earth other than Nick Fury, who is currently deceased; Maria Rambeau, whose whereabouts are unknown but she also would have aged over 20 years since their last encounter meaning she is almost in her 60s even if she is alive; and Monica Rambeau, who is also unaccounted for. If she would take over leadership duties, she would essentially be usurping many more senior members, which does not feel right.
What we do not know, however, is what Carol does in “Endgame” and how her status with the team changes over the course of the film. In fact, it will be curious to see how Carol’s relationship with the planet Earth evolves. She was willing to leave it for almost 20 years to handle the Kree and Skrull conflict. Has Earth become her priority now? Only time will tell.
If I had a vote for who should take over leadership duties in this situation it would easily be Black Widow. She has proven that she is a master strategist and has earned the trust of every single member of the Avengers. She is a founding member that has held her own against threats that realistically are way outside of her paygrade. It is hard to argue that there is anyone who is more of a leader on the team than her. Regardless of what Carol does, if Black Widow survives, I fully expect her to have a de facto co-leader status. Natasha being at the head of the team flows so well in the context of the narrative that has been built over the course of the past decade.
But Carol most similarly parallels Captain America’s, or Steve Rogers’s, journey. Aside from the obvious fact that they are both military captains, they both had an origin story centered around the great power of the Tesseract in a different time period, where they have both been given superhuman abilities that help them overcome obstacles in their ability to help people. Hell, their costumes are even the same color. It does not take a psychic to see what is likely happening here. One captain will step in and fill the void left by the previous one.
It is all of our hope that Carol will bond with the team and not act so alien towards them. She needs to earn her spot, beyond her ability to shoot photons from her fists. It is really unfair of my or anyone to say that Carol will just commandeer the Avengers when she arrives. We have to give her the opportunity to organically grow into her role and we’ve only seen her interact with the Avengers for 3 seconds in a post credit scene. We should not rush to judgement but we should not sacrifice standards.
An interesting possibility for Carol would be if her niece, Monica, came and helped the Avengers in some way. Monica, who was only 11 years old in “Captain Marvel”, would be in her early 30s in “Avengers: Endgame”, and assuming she survived, she could have grown up into a useful addition to the team. This would also provide for an important personal connection to the team that Carol was lacking prior, and it would make her adoption of the Avengers and Earth feel much more natural. It would be an interesting option for Marvel, and the way Monica was written in “Captain Marvel”, she is primed to grow up eager to help her Auntie Carol in any way she can.
There certainly is room to maneuver for Carol on this front. Just because she is new does not mean she can’t earn her leadership amongst the team. Marvel has always done an exceptional job giving characters and roles meaning. I seriously doubt that they will stop that trend now. It is simply a matter of which route they take to achieve their goals and I am excited to see what they have got up their sleeves.