What Does Captain Marvel's '90s Setting Mean for the MCU?

As usual, a number of bombshells were dropped during San Diego Comic-Con this year. But while reveals for Marvel’s near-future films were expected, the info-dump regarding 2019’s Captain Marvel was a very welcome surprise.

As the only title character of a proposed film that we’ve yet to meet, fans have been eagerly anticipating any information on the MCU’s take on Col. Carol Danvers. Of course, the distant release date for Captain Marvel has made the withholding of that information understandable. Aside from Avengers 4, which will likely be a continuation of Infinity War, Captain Marvel will be the last Phase 3 film of the MCU. That said, fans are more than a little anxious for information on the final piece of the MCU puzzle.

While the writers and star have been in place awhile, and the directors were announced earlier this year, we knew virtually nothing about the plot until Comic-Con. Now, we not only have a setting, but confirmation of the story arc and at least one supporting character. But while the inclusion of the Skrulls and Nick Fury and the ‘90s setting are all exciting, they present a lot of questions about Captain Marvel’s place in the MCU and her future with the Avengers.

Where Has Captain Marvel Been?

After the initial shock and excitement wore off regarding the Captain Marvel announcement, the biggest questions fans have had is where exactly has Carol been since the ‘90s. Kevin Feige hasn’t been forthcoming about the time period choice, simply stating that he and the filmmakers thought it would be fun to explore that era in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They’re right, of course. We’ve seen intriguing glimpses of a number of decades across film and TV. And while the ‘90s have been hinted at in Iron Man 3, diving deeper into the time period opens up a lot of possibilities for the MCU.

One of the biggest is the chance to have a younger Nick Fury act as a S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison for Carol Danvers. In doing so, Samuel L. Jackson will likely get de-aged through CGI, and we already know he’ll have both of his eyes. The move will probably give him his biggest role yet in an MCU film and will help audiences have in anchor in the new world. But if Danvers and Fury have been working together since the ‘90s, why wasn’t Captain Marvel on the top of the Avengers recruitment list?

There seem to be two strong possibilities for the absence of Captain Marvel in the modern MCU. The first is that her entire story and any subsequent sequels will only take place in the ‘90s. Like Agent Carter, her story will mostly involve missions set before the main MCU movies. As fun as a ‘90s-set franchise would be, however, that still doesn’t explain why nobody has ever mentioned the ultra-powerful Captain Marvel and her many adventures saving the world with Nick Fury in the ‘90s.

The second and more likely scenario is that the events of Captain Marvel will be part of a top secret operation (allowing for an easy retcon) and that the climax of the movie will see Danvers either go deep undercover or head off into space to continue fighting intergalactic conflicts.

The Kree-Skrull War

If it’s hard to imagine how Captain Marvel has remained a secret in the MCU, then the fact that a galaxy-wide war is completely unknown gives us our biggest clue yet that the events of the movie will be classified. The initial Captain Marvel announcement brought word that the Skrulls would finally be coming to the MCU, but Feige later clarified that the Kree-Skrull War from the comics was actually being adapted. This is exciting for a number of reasons. Not only did the original story from the ‘70s (and the sequel in the ‘90s) prominently feature the original Captain Marvel and Carol Danvers, but the Kree connection opens up a lot of doors for Captain Marvel the film.

The first Captain Marvel, a Kree named Mar-Vell (seriously) kicked off the Kree-Skrull War when it was revealed he had a child with a Skrull. As the two races have been mortal enemies since time untold, the news wasn’t taken kindly. On top of the arc, Carol gets some Kree DNA and Captain Marvel’s powers due to a wonky, comic-booky accident. Considering all of these factors surrounding the original Captain Marvel, it’s unknown how any of this will be translated into the MCU. But the inclusion of the Kree in the story for Captain Marvel at least provides an in for the update.

Given the scale of a war between two intergalactic races, it seems clear that a good deal of the film’s action will take place in space and be unknown to much of Earth. And with the Skrull’s shapeshifting abilities, there’s a likelihood that the movie will involve some cloak and dagger tactics.

Blending espionage with cosmic battles will certainly make Captain Marvel a unique movie, and it will also allow the events of the film to either happen off Earth or somehow in secrecy. It will also potentially set up a mission where Danvers goes into space and/or undercover to continue battling the threat. By doing so, she’ll be able to stay off the radar of the MCU and maybe even make a triumphant return for Avengers 4.

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Key Release Dates
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) release date: Jul 07, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok (2017) release date: Nov 03, 2017
  • Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
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