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Samuel L. Jackson teases how Captain Marvel arrives in Endgame

In early February, Samuel L. Jackson leaked some pretty intriguing information in an interview with Total Film Magazine. When asked about Captain Marvel's role in Avengers: Endgame, he stated, "I guess we might figure out that she can do things that nobody else can do. She can time travel so maybe she can get ahead or behind or whatever, and figure out what all that is. The fact I have the pager 20 years later — it gets addressed in an interesting sort of way."

While speculation and theories abound regarding Carol Danvers' entrance into the MCU and how it will affect the greater storylines of Infinity War and Endgame, Jackson's comment was an interesting tidbit to add to the discussion. Naturally, the fact that it comes from an insider on the projects gives the leak a bit of gravity. The question is, how does Jackson's tantalizingly terse bit of info impact what we've already known and guessed about Danvers and the future of the MCU? Let's get our nerd game on and break down all of the possibilities.

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Jackson's "Marvel-ous" revelations

When news breaks that a Marvel actor leaked something important, usually everyone starts thinking of infamous spoiler mills like Tom Holland or Mark Ruffalo. But in the days leading up to Captain Marvel, it turned out that none other than Samuel L. Jackson himself became the newest leak-prone member of the crew. In fact, the February leak would constitute the second in a month for the ex-director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Back in early January, Entertainment Tonight shared an interview with Mr. Jackson in which he let slip that Carol Danvers was "one of the few people in the Marvel universe that can time travel, so…" So? He may not have realized it at the moment, but it didn't take long before the tossed-out quip created shockwaves across the interweb as fans took in the fact that the cinematic version of Captain Marvel will, indeed, be able to time travel. It was enough to overhaul the fan-theory world in an instant. But this latest confirmation from Jackson only took the spoiler and ran with it, as he himself began to theorize how the information could impact the timeline. Maybe he had the green light to drop the knowledge beforehand, or maybe he was just steering into the skid

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Hanging around after the Snap?

Whatever his motivations, between the two spoilers, Jackson has made it abundantly clear at this point that Captain Marvel can time travel, and it's going to be a factor in Endgame. The impact that a time-traveling superhero with Danvers' powers could have on the story arc isn't inconsequential, either. Wherever and whenever she shows up, we can count on her to turn some heads.

One of the first questions that needs to be asked, then, is when she's going to pop into the picture in the first place. For a while now, there's been heavy speculation that the entire plot of Endgame could pick up months or even years after the finger snap that closed out Infinity War. Footage from the Super Bowl TV spot, which showed empty stadiums and cityscapes, and even an eerie shot of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by what appeared to be docked or beached ships, also confirmed that at least some time will have elapsed. 

If that's the case, how are they going to have Danvers spend that time? After all, she's not the kind of character that can easily slip into the picture without being noticed. She shoots photon blasts out of her arms, she can fly, and she has an alien pet following her around that can lay dozens of eggs at a time. It's not exactly a low-profile combination of attributes.

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Missing bodies

A fanbase as avid as Marvel's is always finding new ways to read into something that isn't there, and in this case, they're literally doing exactly that. During the Endgame Super Bowl spot, there are a couple of scenes where there are quite evenly spaced characters placed around the shot… with a single gaping exception in each one. You can see the images here. The conclusion has naturally been that someone was digitally removed from each of the scenes, someone whose presence Marvel wants to keep secret. While some fans think it's the long-rumored resurrection of Loki, others are putting their money on Carol Danvers, which, if true, would lend some credence to the idea that they will have already worked her into the storyline during the post-finger snap lull.

Before you roll your eyes at this rather far-fetched possibility, there's some pretty solid reasoning behind it all. While speculating on things like digitally-removed characters may border on insane for most movies, Marvel fans have learned their lesson in the past. From Joe Russo's misdirection regarding the title of Endgame to that scene in the Infinity War trailer that wasn't even in the movie, the levels that Marvel execs will stoop to in order to maintain the secrecy of their projects is well documented.

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That's where she was

Of course, one explanation that a time-traveling Carol Danvers could help put to rest is where on Earth (or off of it) she's been for the last decade. After all, it's pretty clear at this point that Captain Marvel is going to be one of the strongest protagonists that the MCU has ever seen. This has led many to question where she's been hiding for all of these years. How have we been all over the universe via films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor, and yet have never heard a thing about her? Her movie is set in the '90s, so we can rest assured that once her solo story is told, she'll officially have been part of the MCU canon since that time. How, then, did she manage to lay so low during galactic events like the finger snap or even Ego's attempt to swallow up a bunch of planets in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?

If, however, Danvers can move forward and backward through time at her own will, perhaps the explanation for her mysterious absence won't simply be that she was hiding away in some distant part of the galaxy, as has been suggested by many. Maybe she's simply going to shoot forward in time directly to the moments following the dusting of half of creation, skipping over all of the other events in the interim.

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We're in the Endgame

Of course, the new revelations from Jackson have more relevance to Endgame than simply how Danvers will get there. If she arrives via time travel, that could change everything for the Avengers' game plan going forward. While the Quantum Realm has been toyed with in the past, particularly in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Russos are going to need to develop it quite a bit more, and quickly, if they're going to be able to use it effectively for time travel within the Endgame scenario.

But let's stop and do the math for a minute. Everything seems to be pointing towards a Captain Marvel that will have the potential strength of a Hulk or Thor, coupled with the time-traveling abilities of Doctor Strange. If Carol Danvers shows up on their doorstep not only with the ability to outgun whatever threats stand in her way but also with the ability to fly through space and travel through time in order to find them, she could very quickly become the queen on a board full of pawns, a queen that could checkmate Thanos quicker than he could snap his fingers. If that's the case, the Quantum Realm, while still relevant, may simply become a tangential issue.

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Thanos an underdog?

The growing list of Captain Marvel's abilities is certainly going to be beneficial to the pared-down ranks of the Avengers. In fact, it's almost starting to look like Thanos could be the underdog going into the Endgame. Now, before you start throwing things at your computer screen for the insolence of that last statement, hear us out. First off, it's easy to see an Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Thanos as a nearly impossible force to stop, and that's true. But the truth is, the Gauntlet sure didn't look to be in working order after the finger snap. In fact, it was fried to a crisp. That could mean that Thanos is going into Endgame without the ability to use the Infinity Stones in the same way that he did in Infinity War.

On top of that, rumors have popped up that seem to hint that Thanos may not even be the primary antagonist of Endgame at all. He'll be involved, you can bet on that, but Anthony Russo pointed out in early February that the two films are distinctly different, and if they'd known what they do now, they wouldn't have shot them back to back. This has spurred some to surmise that perhaps the film will introduce a new villain, such as Kronos. If that's the case, Endgame could ultimately involve an incredibly powerful Carol Danvers who could simply blow right through the retired Thanos, only to run into a bigger, badder villain afterward.

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Rebooting the time travel speculation

Ever since Infinity War hit the big screen, fans have been incorporating time travel into the picture from a million different angles. Usually, these theories have involved scenarios like Doctor Strange going back in time to talk with Danvers and Fury or Tony Stark and Scott Lang heading back to places like the Battle of New York via the Quantum Realm. These theories have always been directed towards the past, with characters in the present moving in a backward direction in order to accomplish something.

However, this latest duo of spoilers from Jackson, and especially his bit about how Danvers could "get ahead or behind or whatever, and figure out what all that is" seems to indicate much more of a backward and forward element to the time travel involved. In fact, in Jackson's statement, it seems that the only important time travel he's referring to may be the "Danvers heading into the future" kind. This reshapes the entire conversation going forward. Of course, that isn't to say that some of the existing theories couldn't be retconned to fit the new revelations.

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Back to the Future

One of the aforementioned theories that appeared on YouTube suggested that Danvers will actually be thrown back in time by the snap itself. This would mean her memories that she is struggling to recover, as made apparent in the trailers for Captain Marvel, are actually from modern events. Of course, if she is inadvertently taken from the present and cast back into the '90s, there's a good chance she's going to do everything in her power to ensure that she's in position to jump back into her own timeline in the 21st-century world she knows.

That jump forward, back into her rightful place in the timeline, could be the very event that Fury is orchestrating via the pager in the end credit scene for Infinity War. While he might simply be calling her from a distant place in the galaxy, the revelation of her time traveling abilities opens up the possibility that he may, instead, be signaling to a Danvers waiting in the past that they've officially reached the part of the storyline that she can return to without imperiling her own place further.

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Danvers and Scott Lang

Another theory plays on the idea that Danvers is once again actually from the present, being sent back in time via an accident when she crosses paths with Scott Lang in San Franciscan airspace as the snap happens. Danvers flies over the rooftop where Lang's van is stationed, sending her hurtling back through time via the Quantum Realm and setting things up for her solo movie. The theory goes on to explain how Danvers heads off into the distant reaches of the galaxy in order to avoid upsetting her own timeline, leaving Fury with the pager to call her back when the time comes.

However, armed with the new knowledge of her ability to time travel (on purpose, not by accident), one could speculate that perhaps rather than calling her from far away, the pager is simply giving her that specific spot in time to return forward to. This would have the added benefit of neatly landing her before and after the events of Infinity War and the preceding decade, without the super-charged character disrupting the plot along the way. It would also go a step further and weave Scott Lang's cliffhanger together with Danvers' storyline.

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Danvers and Doctor Strange

Yet another theory addresses the idea of time being so much more complicated than space. After all, we're not just talking about long distances here. The theorist has Strange heading back in time and actually giving Fury the Time Stone in order to build a time machine. While the explanation is interesting on its own, Jackson's spoiler gives us the ability to inject it with a bit of a twist. What if, rather than the elaborate proposal that Fury somehow manages to build a full-blown time machine in the '90s — a suggestion that stretches the imagination a bit beyond even Marvel's boundaries — perhaps, instead, all they do is create a pager that can communicate across time.

This would set up the end credit scene from Infinity War as an event that calls Captain Marvel not just across space but also across time, directly to the events of the finger snap. It would also allow Marvel to utilize Danvers' time-traveling abilities, link her story to established time-veteran Doctor Strange, and, once again, allow them to explain why she hasn't been around for the last decade, all in one fell swoop.