Here I sit, once again typing up in the wee hours of the morning after cataloguing all the many easter eggs present in a superhero movie. Midnight screenings are a joy, except for the times you have to stay up for a few hours afterwards to write this stuff down. The things I do for my job.
This time we're talking Captain Marvel, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie featuring a female superhero in the lead role. Which took them long enough, don't you think? As is the way with the MCU, it was packed with references to the wider Marvel universe and a bunch of other stuff you might not have noticed. Here are all the ones we spotted.
Obvious spoiler warning, for people who have no common sense and are reading this without seeing the film first.
MCU movies are a pain in the arse for pre-film logos, with that flashy cinematic nobody cares about. But this time it's a bit different, and are not full of clips of previous MCU movies. Instead they've been replaced with clips of Stan Lee, both in and out of his role as Marvel's cameo king. It's a touching memorial for a man who helped create the characters that are the focus of the films people love so much.
The Stan-dard Gratuitous Cameo
Stan Lee still gets his usual cameo in the film, once more taking on the role as a person on public transport. This time he seems to be playing himself, and is seen reading the script for Kevin Smith's Mallrats. Not only does this add to the orgy of '90s nostalgia, it was a nice touch considering it was one of Lee's earliest cameo roles.
Many, many '90s references
There are too many references to the '90s in this film, thanks to the fact that it's set in 1995. Too many to count, sadly, and there are bound to be people out there who spotted more than I did. Unfortunately I was a small child in '95, and not American, so some of this was lost on me.
I managed to grab the references to Blockbuster (does it count as product placement 2o), The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, a Street Fighter II arcade machine, the original Game Boy (and Mario coin sound effect), Nine Inch Nails, Don't Go Casing Waterfalls TLC, Come as You Are by Nirvana, Radio Shack, pre-Google search king Alta Vista, You Gotta Be by Des'ree, plus a True Lies cutout and plenty more VHS tapes for films like Hook, Last Action Hero, and the rather-fitting The Right Stuff.
There are also a few older references, like the Fonz lunchbox, the Space Invaders pinball machine, and Nerf guns.
The Kree Empire
Previously seen in both Guardians of the Galaxy and Agents of SHIELD, the Kree have proven themselves to be a major force in the galaxy with a massive empire and formidable military. This is the first time we've had a good look at the capital, though. Hala is the Kree's home world, and is home to the basis of its Imperial power.
The Supreme Intelligence
Unlike GotG, which showed off a Kree president, it's revealed here that the Kree empire is under the rule of the Supreme Intelligence - a powerful AI that changes its form based on who is interacting with it. In the comics the Supreme Intelligence was created by using the brains of the Kree's best thinkers, and constantly added new ones as great minds died. The films don't mention anything about its origins, but it's probably fair to say that it's similar.
Yon-Rogg mentions that its true form is unknown, but comics readers will know that it's actually a giant head in a green vat. It's a lovely image, I assure you.
A Kree superhero team from the comics, Starforce is essentially the Kree Empire's special ops unit. Almost like Seal Team 6 in space, if you will. Like the comics it's comprised of many members, including Att-las, Minn-erva, Korath the Pursuer (previous featured in GotG), Bronn-charr, and an amnesiac Carol Danvers. It's led by Yon-Rogg, a Kree notable as an enemy of both Danvers and the original Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) in the comics.
Yon-Rogg also played a key role in Carol gaining her powers in the comics, a relationship that remained in the film - albeit under very different circumstances.
The only Accuser we've seen in the past was Ronan, the radical antagonist of GotG. He plays a small part in Captain Marvel, and seems to be in command of the Accusers - a sect of the Kree military responsible for orbital bombardment. Ronan himself seemingly commands the same flagship in this film, or at least one of the same class and shape. Just with a fancy paint job that denotes his position within the military.
In the comics the Accusers take on the role of 'military governors and jurists', which means they basically control the military and uphold its laws. None of that has been seen in the film, and it's not clear whether we ever will, seeing as how Ronan was destroyed by the Power Stone on Xandar. Still he seems to have taken an interest in Danvers, so it suggests there may be the possibility of a mid-timeline sequel.
The film has a twist on the character of Mar-Vell, originally a male Kree that was sent to Earth as a spy before turning on his own kind to become a hero. He would eventually become mentor and partner to Carol Danvers, before eventually dying of cancer in one of Marvel Comics' few un-reversed deaths.
Here the genders have been swapped, and Walter Lawson has become Wendy Lawson, a scientist tasked with studying the Tesseract and exploiting it to aid the Kree in the fight against the Skrulls. She realises the fight is unjust, and aims to use the technology to help the Skrulls flee and find a new planet to call home.
Another reference to the GotG films are the FTL gates, which debuted in Vol 2 to explain how ships can travel the galaxy so quickly.
The focus of Captain Marvel are the Skrulls, alien shapeshifters that have a tendency to go off and try to conquer planets by infiltrating them in secret. A 'secret invasion' if you will, which was one of Marvel's better crossover stories. The Skrulls have also been at war with the Kree for millennia, with each race struggling to gain the upper hand. That's in the comics at least, and the film Skrulls are very different.
They're painted as warmongering creatures by the Kree, and retain their shapeshifting abilities, but the truth is they're not the warlike beings the propaganda makes out. They're actually a refugee race, separated across the empire thanks to a failed revolution against Kree rule that led to their planet being destroyed by the Accusers. Like the comics the Skrulls shapeshifting abilities is only active when they're alive, and death causes them to revert back to their original form.
Young Agents of SHIELD
Nick Fury plays a key role in Captain Marvel, and Phil Coulson pops up in a few places as the new SHIELD rookie. Both characters are played by their original actors (Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg) using some of Marvel's trademark de-ageing CGI to make them appear younger. Well Coulson does, since you can see it in his face. Samuel L Jackson hasn't really aged in the past 20 years, and only really needed the hairpiece. Probably why he doesn't look as rubbish.
Coulson also proves himself to be trustworthy, trusting his gut and letting Fury and Danvers go when SHIELD are after them. That explains a lot about their later relationship, and why Fury ended up bringing him back from the dead and giving him so much leeway in his later work.
First appearing in The Avengers, Project Pegasus was revealed to be a joint NASA/SHIELD operation that mostly involved studying the Tesseract at that stage. It appears in Captain Marvel as well, seemingly involving itself with aerospace-related research. And tinkering with the Tesseract, naturally.
The only difference here is that Pegasus isn't a SHIELD project, and is instead a joint NASA/USAF endeavour. They also made an early version of the Quinjet that would appear in several Avengers-centric movies.
MCU Fingerprint scanners suck
Nick Fury manages to bust through the Pegasus fingerprint scanner with almost no effort, and it's just another example of the MCU's biometric security being garbage. Scott Lang managed to get by Hank Pym's biometric lock in Ant-Man in just a few minutes. He had to do something a bit fancier than sticky tape on the sensor, but still.
I can't see that working very well with your iPhone, do you?
Seemingly appearing out of nowhere in the Project Pegasus is Goose, who is revealed to be Mar-Vell's cat. He appears in the comics as Carol's cat, and was there named Chewie after Chewbacca from Star Wars. That was changed, obviously, to reference Top Gun rather than Disney's other multi-billion dollar franchise.
Like the comics Goose isn't actually a cat, he's a Flerken. Flerkens are aliens that evidently look like cats, but also house masses of tentacles that can be used for various things. Things like attacking Kree soldiers, eating Infinity Stones, and more. Talos has good reason to be scared of him, though Fury doesn't get it initially. After the Kree put a muzzle on Goose he declares that he's a "cat, not Hannibal Lecter".
Fury gets a close call at losing his eye and obtaining his famous eye patch early on in the film, but it's not until the end that he actually does. He mentions in Winter Soldier that he lost his eye because he trusted someone he shouldn't have, and it turns out that someone was actually a something. Goose, the cat/Flerken clearly grew tired of being lifted in the air and scratched him. It was a pretty bad scratch too, since Talos said it wouldn't heal. Obviously we now know that it didn't.
The Other Female Captain Marvel
Lots of characters have taken on the name Captain Marvel in comics history, but the only other woman was none other than Monica Rambeau - who features in this film. Granted she's a small child in the '90s, but it opens up a future for her to become a hero in her own right. She always had a good relationship with both Carol Danvers and Mar-Vell in the comics, and in the film it seems her mother Maria helped that along somewhat.
Interestingly she's told by Fury that she can't do any superheroics unless she learns to glow like Carol. Which is funny, because in the comics Monica can transform herself into any sort of electromagnetic energy - including light.
Interestingly Maria's call-sign is 'Photon', a name that Monica once adopted as her super-alias in the comics. Nowadays she just goes by Spectrum, though.
First seen in Captain America: The First Avenger, the Tesseract plays a key role in Captain Marvel. Not only is it the reason why the Kree came to Earth in the first place, it's also the reason why Carol got her powers. Mar-Vell used its energy to create a 'lightspeed engine' to help the Skrulls, and after destroying prototype and keep it from Yon-Rogg Carol ends up absorbing the energy and gaining super powers. So it's not just the Mind Stone that can create super powers.
The fact it was hidden away in Mar-Vell's cloaked ship explains away some of the time between The Avengers and Captain America, and now it's in the hands of Fury who manages to keep it secret for nearly 15 years.
After Carol manages to remove the Kree inhibitor on her neck, she unlocks the full potential of her powers. Turns out that's a lot of power, and she transforms into what the comics call the 'Binary Form'. Binary form lets her tap into a 'white hole', which isn't very much like the one from Red Dwarf. Instead she gains full control over the electromagnetic spectrum, can travel at super-luminal speeds, and can even survive in the vacuum of space unaided. Which explains why she isn't wearing a helmet at the end of the film.
The Protector Initiative
Who can forget the very first MCU post-credits scene, where Fury asks Tony Stark to join the Avenger Initiative? Turns out that wasn't its original name, and his encounter with Captain Marvel showed him that Earth needed heroes to protect it. So he begins drafting what he originally called the 'Protector Initiative'.
That's right, Avenger wasn't the first option. That name came from Carol's old call-sign from her Air Force days, meaning she was the real 'first' Avenger. Take that Captain America.
Only for Emergencies
Carol upgrades Fury's basic pager with Kree tech, giving him the option of calling for her help if he ever needs it. 'Only for emergencies' though, as she needs to fly off and help the Skrulls find a new home. That sort of explains why Fury waited so long to call her in, since all the other problems faced by Earth (Loki, Ultron, etc) were eventually solved by the Avengers.
Post Credits Scene #1
A tease for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame, the first credits scene seemingly takes place almost immediately after the decimation of Thanos's finger snap. Inside the Avengers compound is Captain America, Blonde Widow, War Machine, and Banner. Cap and Widow are counting the number of missing people, while Banner and Rhodey are fiddling with Fury's souped-up pager. They figured out it was sending a signal, but has just about stopped and conked out.
While trying to figure out how to get it working again, Carol Danvers appears out of nowhere demanding to know where Fury is. Obviously Fury is dust, and now we know how Captain Marvel comes to Earth in the next movie.
Post Credits Scene #2
The 'funny' scene Marvel is known for, this time focusing on everyone's favourite not-cat Goose. He's inside Fury's empty '90s office, and ends up coughing up the Tesseract like a hairball. Standard cat, really.