Set in 1995, Captain Marvel is a direct prequel to five Marvel movies - and even one TV series. The film is essentially the biggest retcon in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Marvel revealing a never-before-seen adventure of a younger Nick Fury and Phil Coulson.
The story will subtly rewrite the overarching narrative of the MCU by adding a new hero into the mix - Captain Marvel herself, who has been described by Kevin Feige as the most powerful Marvel hero yet. The trailers have confirmed just how powerful she really is, showing Carol Danvers transforming into her "Binary" form and taking on alien starfighters in a stunning dogfight. Looking forward, Feige has promised that she'll take the lead of the entire MCU, so this retcon is an important one.
The 1995 setting means that Captain Marvel serves as a direct prequel to no less than five previous Marvel movies, and even one spin-off TV series by Marvel Television. Here's how that works.
- This Page: Iron Man, The Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy
- Page 2: Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Agents of SHIELD
The MCU launched in 2008 with the release of Iron Man, starring Robert Downey, Jr., as the titular hero. That movie's supporting cast included two shadowy figures - Clark Gregg's Phil Coulson and Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. Coulson was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who was assigned to investigate Tony Stark's mysterious escape from the Ten Rings in Afghanistan, and he had a habit of turning up at just the right time - even playing a key role in helping Pepper get away from Obadiah Stane. Nick Fury, meanwhile, was only introduced in the post-credits scene, promising Stark that he'd just entered a wider universe. Both characters explicitly hinted at the fact they'd encountered superhumans before now, with Coulson insisting this wasn't his "first rodeo" and Fury asking Stark, "You think you're the only superhero in the world?"
Captain Marvel is a backdoor origin story for both Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. According to the trailers, back in 1995 a disaffected Fury was on the verge of quitting S.H.I.E.L.D. altogether - but an encounter with Carol Danvers changed the course of his life. Meanwhile, Gregg has admitted that "this is maybe the rodeo [Coulson was] talking about." This is the story of how Nick Fury and Phil Coulson began the journey to become the men Tony Stark would meet.
Where did Nick Fury get the idea for the Avengers Initiative? It looks as though Captain Marvel will tell the story of how he came to believe superheroes were the ones who could save the world. When Fury rose through the ranks to become Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., he made the Avengers Initiative his own personal mission. The team was finally assembled in 2012's The Avengers, when Loki and the Chitauri invaded Earth. There's a very real sense in which Captain Marvel made the Avengers possible.
The trailer for Captain Marvel also confirmed that the film will feature Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., the experimental facility that was investigating the power of the Tesseract. Samuel L. Jackson has confirmed that the Tesseract will appear in the film too, meaning there's a straight narrative throughline between Captain Marvel and The Avengers.
Guardians of the Galaxy
2014's Guardians of the Galaxy introduced viewers to Ronan the Accuser, a Kree warlord who opposed the peace treaty between the Kree and the Xandarians. Played by Lee Pace, Ronan was a fanatical zealot who wished to restore his race's warlike ways, and who sought to visit his judgment upon the Kree's ancient enemies. He pursued the Power Stone, and aimed to use it to destroy the entire planet of Xandar.
Set in 1995, Captain Marvel is based well before the Kree/Xandarian peace treaty, although it's centered upon another of the Kree wars - with the shapeshifting Skrulls. The film appears to serve as a back-door origin story to Ronan, who appears to be a decorated Kree military leader, working alongside the elite Starforce. It seems safe to assume Captain Marvel will set Ronan on the path to becoming a warlord - if not end with him splitting from the Kree command entirely.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019