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Why Captain Marvel will blow you away

Captain Marvel will introduce Academy Award winner Brie Larson's Carol Danvers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe on March 8th. This is nearly a year after the post-credits scene in Avengers: Infinity War teased her arrival to the MCU via an intergalactic pager belonging to the pre-snapped Nick Fury. Anticipation for the first-ever female lead within the Marvel movie canon has been considerable.

According to Fandango, pre-sales for Captain Marvel are among the strongest ever for either superhero origin stories or MCU films in general. Captain Marvel has been blowing past pre-sales for previous super origin stories, like 2017's Wonder Woman and 2018's Aquaman, as well as Marvel Studios' own Doctor Strange. On Fandango's top five superhero origin stories, Captain Marvel ranks number 2 in the category, only outpaced by Black Panther. Within the MCU overall, pre-sales for Captain Marvel are only behind Black Panther and 2018's Avengers: Infinity War. Initial critic reactions from early screenings have been generally positive, and analysts are predicting a $100 million opening weekend. Can Captain Marvel live up to the hype? 

Most powerful hero in the MCU

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Captain Marvel is the most powerful hero the MCU has ever seen. Considering the Sokovia-crushing abilities we've seen from some of the Avengers already, that's saying quite a bit. With cosmic-level powers including super strength, durability, flight, and the capacity to survive the vacuum of space, Captain Marvel's skill set is closer to that of DCEU's Superman than anyone in the MCU. Additionally, Captain Marvel can absorb any kind of energy and release that energy as concentrated blasts, usually from her hands.

How does one prepare to play the most powerful character in a universe? Larson started training more than 9 months before filming began. She trained extensively in judo, boxing, and wrestling. Her strength training included 215-pound deadlifts and 400-pound hip thrusts. "A huge part of Captain Marvel is her strength," Larson said. "I knew if I could go through that experience, I would get closer to her and I'd understand her."

Going cosmic

Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame are the final films of Marvel's Phase 3, an era that will have spanned ten films since 2016. Spider-Man: Far From Home will officially kick off Phase 4 and a new direction for Marvel Studios. Marvel is known for unveiling their release plans well in advance, but with Phase 4, they've been slow to confirm production of upcoming films. One reason for that may be the events of these two movies and their world-shaking consequences for the MCU.

How does the world's most profitable film franchise get bigger? Speaking at an event for Ant-Man and the Wasp, Kevin Feige clued us in on the direction the MCU's Phase 4 will be taking. "I love [cosmic stories] and that's why we didn't wait very long to get that, I'd say," Feige said. "Thor was the beginning of that, Tesseract in Cap as well… I love it because I love space stuff and I love the kind of stories you can tell." Captain Marvel will likely be the beginning of a major narrative shift to the universal and the infinite.

Introducing the Eternals

In Marvel Comics, the Eternals are an extraordinarily powerful, near-immortal race of cosmic beings who have existed for millions of years. Thanos is an Eternal. 'Nuff Said. With Marvel's Phase 4 potentially shifting to a future in the outer reaches of space, beginning in earnest with Captain Marvel, it's quite possible audiences will get some Eternals Easter eggs — or appearances — in this movie. 

Marvel Studios has already confirmed that an Eternals movie is in the works for Phase 4. Created by comic book legend Jack Kirby, the Eternals and their enemies, the Deviants, are two ancient alien races genetically engineered by beings known as the Celestials. In the MCU, Kurt Russell's Ego the Living Planet of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a Celestial. Eternals have special powers, well beyond those of mortal men. It's implied that the Eternals, with names closely resembling mythological gods, were the true inspiration for those myths in ancient times. If the mind of your inner nerd isn't completely blown by just how cosmic the MCU is about to get — starting with Captain Marvel — then you have a Celestial-level tolerance for awesomeness. 

Kree-Skrull War

At San Diego Comic Con in 2017, diehard Marvel fans were treated to some sweet fan service when Marvel announced that Captain Marvel would be the first MCU appearance of the Skrulls. The Skrulls are a race of shape-shifting aliens that have been around in the comics since the early days. The ante was upped even more with the news that the film would include a narrative thread of the Kree-Skrull War, a bitter intergalactic feud between the two races first introduced to comics in 1971.

The Kree-Skrull conflict promises to be an important aspect of world building for the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the storyline is only one element of the overall plot of Captain Marvel, revealing the wider history of the MCU and learning how it relates to the current timeline is an exciting development. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in a new featurette, Co-director Anna Boden said, "Carol [Danvers] knows the Skrulls have infiltrated Earth, and it kind of creates this sense of paranoia. The Skrulls are after something, and part of the mystery of the movie is Carol trying to figure out what they're after, and getting it before they do."

'90s nostalgia

Captain Marvel takes place more than 20 years before the events of Avengers: Endgame. The action is set predominantly in 1995, but with even more rad '90s references in flashbacks to Carol's pre-Captain Marvel life. The movie exists in a world before superheroes — a planet without the Avengers, and a Nick Fury with both eyes intact. In the trailer alone, audiences were shown references to Blockbuster Video, pagers, and Nine Inch Nails.

Marvel's marketing has really turned up the '90s kid vibes with Captain Marvel's official website. The website has a the retro look of the internet's early days, and includes an "Identify the Skrulls" game, official photos from the film, information on the major players in the movie, and downloadable content. All of the '90s pop culture elements are certainly fun, but it's also a bold narrative choice. Going back 20 years to provide greater context to Infinity War and Endgame could prove to be a storytelling masterstroke that keeps the MCU going strong for another ten years and beyond.

Link to Endgame

In the Endgame trailer, we see Tony Stark trapped in a spacecraft that's out of fuel and low on oxygen. Theories abound about who will be the one to save Stark. One theory that has gained steam is the idea of Captain Marvel coming to Iron Man's rescue. Some look to the post-credits scene in Infinity War, in which Nick Fury pages Carol Danvers just before getting dusted, as evidence of the possibility of a Captain Marvel/Iron Man team-up on deck for Endgame. 

One intriguing fan theory has outlined an interesting role Nick Fury could play in Captain Marvel. An astute Redditor made waves by predicting that '90s Nick Fury "will be shown or made aware of the future," and be persuaded to arrange the events that we've witnessed on screen so far. In other words, everything that has happened in the MCU had to happen just the way it did for the good guys to have any chance at ultimately defeating Thanos.

Two post credits scenes

When Marvel Studios held their first press screening for Captain Marvel on February 20th, some spoiler-free tidbits filtered out via critics' social media posts. An interesting detail that's emerged is the fact that — in keeping with the Marvel Studios' long-standing tradition of including mid- or post-credits scenes — Captain Marvel will feature two such teasers.

Los Angeles Times entertainment journalist Sonaiya Kelley revealed the existence of the epilogue scenes via her twitter account, tweeting, "Captain Marvel is an effective Avengers prequel in some ways akin to the 1st Captain America movie. It's pro-woman without being overdone with pre and post credit scenes that made me tear up and gave me goosebumps respectively." She went on to clarify her comments by revealing even more, tweeting, "By pre* I mean before the movie starts! Though there are two post credits scenes that are worth staying for and the anticipation for ENDGAME is definitely stoked by this film." It was also revealed that the movie begins with a touching tribute to the late Stan Lee.

The Supreme Intelligence

The Supreme Intelligence is a little-known but classic cosmic entity created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character first appeared in a 1967 issue of Fantastic Four. This artificial intelligence was created by the Kree to help create a Cosmic Cube, as their enemies the Skrulls had done. In the MCU, the Cosmic Cube is also known as the Tesseract, or more recently, the Space Stone on Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet.

After much speculation, Annette Bening recently revealed her role in Captain Marvel to be none other than the Supreme Intelligence, who promises to be unlike any other character we've met in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. During an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Bening described her character as "a god-like entity, the leader of the Kree people. The artificial intelligence which consists of the greatest intellects of the Kree people for the last million years." She then playfully added, "And there's more, but I can't say it." 

Captain Marvel comics

In the Marvel Comics Universe, before she became Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers was a colonel in the United States Air Force. She had a decorated career as a pilot, spy, and NASA security officer. Throughout her adventures, she often paired with an undercover alien soldier named Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel, who was posing as a human on Earth.

In the comics, Mar-Vell is actually the source of Danvers' powers. The film is introducing a new take on Mar-Vell, with the character played by Jude Law. In the film, Mar-Vell is Danvers' mentor in the Kree military unit known as Starforce. It's unclear how the movie will explain how she receives her considerable powers. Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo addressed the difficulty of balancing Captain Marvel's super powers within the MCU's continuity. "It's always a concern of ours about overpowering characters, because the reason that people relate to these characters is their humanity, and that they're flawed," Joe said. "So we're all acutely aware of the dangers of having an overly powerful character. We like sensitive storytelling, so… we found a thoughtful way through it."

First MCU female lead

Captain Marvel will be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 21st film. It's also the very first in the studio's history to be led by a female superhero. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige discussed the prominent role female characters are going to play in Phase 4 and beyond. Discussing the notion of making more movies with female leads, Feige said, "We feel like it'll be the first of many. There were a lot of men in that initial run of Avengers."

Indeed, the next female-driven MCU project is reportedly already in the works. Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, is rumored to begin filming in 2019. While there is currently not a release date, the script is being penned by Jac Schaeffer, writer of the upcoming comedycThe Hustle starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. The movie will be released in late 2020 or early 2021, with additional details likely becoming available once Phase 4 begins with Spider-Man: Far From Home.

A new take on the origin story

An important element of Marvel's consistent big-screen success is the studio's ability to continually reinvent its style of storytelling. Many of the movies in the MCU feel fresh because of the creative risks the filmmakers take. Captain Marvel wants to tell an origin story, but in a completely different way — it's a just-different-enough approach to the origin story. Speaking to Mashable, producer Jonathan Schwartz said, "In many ways, it's a classic Marvel origin story but told in reverse, structurally. You meet her as an awesome badass superpowered space hero, and then learn who the human is behind that aspect of herself."

The story begins on the planet Hala, where she is deeply involved in the Kree-Skrull War, battling on the side of the Kree people, and in full control of her potent superpowers. The audience is then taken back to Carol Danvers' home planet of Earth, where the origin story proper begins. Once there, Carol discovers her past may hold the key to her struggles in the present.