The Captain Marvel mid-credits scene is a plot hole after Avengers: Endgame, confusing the timeline and leaving major events to happen off-screen. Ever since Iron Man in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has used end-credits scenes to set up future movies in the franchise. But while many of the MCU's early credits stingers featured scenes that would appear in the movies they were setting up, Marvel Studios releases have moved further away from that tactic. Instead, the credits scenes are relegated to only the credits of these movies, making them even more important for fans to watch.
A classic example of Marvel using credits scenes to explain a character's whereabouts in the MCU is Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), who goes from being the mind-controlled Winter Soldier in Captain America: Civil War, to a full-blown functioning ally living in Wakanda in Avengers: Infinity War. That progression was laid out in the credits scenes of Civil War and Black Panther. Without watching those scenes, fans may not understand how Bucky got to Wakanda or why he's no longer brainwashed. But while Bucky is a supporting character, Marvel pulled a similar stunt with a major MCU hero: Captain Marvel. But this time, it works even less.
The arrival of Captain Marvel was first teased in the Avengers: Infinity War post-credits scene, hinting at Carol Danvers' (Brie Larson) relationship to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) that was then showcased in her solo movie. Then in the Captain Marvel post-credits scene, Carol arrives on Earth, answering the call from Fury's pager and meeting the Avengers. However, when Captain Marvel first appears in Avengers: Endgame, it's not on Earth, but in space, rescuing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), towing the broken down Benatar to the Avengers HQ.
In order for the sequence of events between Captain Marvel's credits scene and Avengers: Endgame to make sense, viewers must fill in the blanks in the timeline. They must assume the Avengers briefed Carol after she arrived on Earth looking for Fury, explaining Thanos used the Infinity Stones to decimate half the universe's population. Then, viewers must assume the Avengers sent her to look for Tony in space. How exactly she knew where to find Tony is unclear, but she or the Avengers may have picked up a distress signal from the Benatar and followed it back to the ship.
It's a leap in logic that viewers have to make and not ask too many questions about because Avengers: Endgame jumps over the how of Captain Marvel rescuing Tony in order to get everyone on Earth. But it's a major leap to ask of fans, and casual viewers of the MCU who don't always necessarily watch the post-credits scenes will be entirely lost. All of the background about how Carol joined up with the Avengers and learned about Tony's existence is established through the credits scenes, and even then, it's not properly explained how she finds to Tony.
Ultimately, it's a sacrifice in order for Avengers: Endgame to get all the characters together so that the action can really start. Avengers: Endgame is already three hours long, so taking more time to depict Carol's full first meeting with the Avengers and explaining how she finds Tony would only inflate the movie's already bloated runtime. But in the larger scope of the movie, Captain Marvel is already underused, and only ever really utilized as a convenient answer to seemingly insurmountable problems. So leaving her introduction in the modern MCU to the credits scenes or off screen entirely feels like a cheap way to handle her character.
Though it's understandable Avengers: Endgame would want to get into the main crux of its story as quickly as possible, the movie leans far too much on credits scenes to do the heavy lifting of explaining Captain Marvel's introduction to Earth's Mightiest Heroes. But there's only so much information relayed in credits scenes, and because the movie doesn't properly explain her arrival, the link between Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame is tenuous at best, and a plot hole at worst.
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