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How Captain Marvel's original MCU introduction would have changed everything

There's no doubt that Carol Danvers has been one of the most electrifying additions to the MCU in years. From her overpowered abilities to her absolutely phenomenal opening weekend at the box office, it didn't take long for the new Cap to make her mark. However, while a successful origin flick followed by an appearance in Endgame is a sweet way to kick off a superhero career, that wasn't what the masterminds at Marvel Studios always had in mind.

In an interview with Birth.Movies.Death., Kevin Feige admitted that Captain Marvel had actually been included in an early draft of Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron script. However, her arrival, "fully formed, in a costume and part of the Avengers already" when most viewers would have no clue who she was, turned Feige off from the idea.

While Age of Ultron hardly needed one of the most powerful Avengers tossed into the mix, it certainly makes one wonder how Carol Danvers' presence in the MCU throughout Phase 3 — rather than at the tail end of it — would have had an impact on the bigger storylines as they unfolded. Let's take a look at some of the repercussions of the choice to punt on Danvers' debut, and how things could have shaken out if she had been brought into the picture so much earlier.

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Infinity Sisters

The possibility of Carol Danvers' presence in Age of Ultron actually manifested beyond simply trying to write in a part. The filmmakers actually had plate shots lined up to serve as backdrops for her entrance. Ultimately, they simply replaced her with Wanda Maximoff — suited up for the first time as Scarlet Witch — in those scenes. Feige explained, "The way we reveal Scarlet Witch [in costume] at the end of the movie? Those were Captain Marvel plate shots." It was a good call. Wanda has since gone on to play a key supporting role in stories like Civil War and Infinity War and even has a Disney+ series coming out.

While the decision to save Danvers for her own solo introduction was obviously a good one, though, it doesn't mean the Maximoff twin was a downgrade. Sure, Carol Danvers' full potential is off the charts, but Wanda could certainly give the Tesseract-infused warrior a run for her money.

And speaking of the Tesseract, while the two heroines have quite different skill sets, it's interesting to note that the root of their MCU powers both reside in Infinity Stones. Wanda's transformation came about from experiments with the Mind Stone, while Danvers' originated in a blast from the Tesseract. Both even have separate references to the fact that their own power signatures are similar to their respective Infinity Stones. While the switch from Danvers to Maximoff may look fairly drastic on the surface, it really boils down to swapping out one powerful character for another.

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Too big, too soon?

While Vision and Wanda had already broadened the MCU's scope considerably in Age of Ultron, there are other reasons that the introduction of the Kree Starforce member would've just been too much. For one thing, Carol Danvers is about as explosive of a character as you can get. From flying to photon blasts, she's hardly the kind of person you leave on the sidelines to jump in for a quick uppercut once in a while. Her arrival, fully locked and loaded, would have upended the entire movie and likely proved incredibly hard to balance with the existing plot.

In addition, the entrance of Captain Marvel brings so much more than just the character of Carol Danvers. Black Panther and Spider-Man were able to be thrown headfirst into Civil War — even if they pretty quickly needed their own solo films afterward — because they're both earthbound heroes. Danvers would have been incredibly difficult to weave into the fabric of a comparatively smaller 2015 MCU. She would have dragged the complicated Kree Empire into the picture, the concept of Skrulls lurking around every corner, and a cosmic power set that hardly fit the more human vibe of the MCU at the time.

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Iron Man, Vision, Marvel, oh my!

Another point that supports the decision to hold off on introducing Captain Marvel is the fact that, while Danvers may be overpowered, her actual on-screen skill set would have actually been a bit repetitive at that point. By the end of the second Avengers movie, we already had Thor, Iron Man, and Vision flying around fighting in the air, which happens to be one of Captain Marvel's specialties. After all, at the climax of her solo film she literally stops a Kree nuclear warhead dead in its tracks and hurls it back into space.

Not only that, but Vision shoots energy blasts out of his forehead, Iron Man has his repulsors, and as always, wherever Thor shows up, lightning isn't far behind. If you threw Danvers' photon blasts in as well, the whole battle in Sokovia would have started to look like the stage lights at a Super Bowl halftime show. Subbing in Maximoff helped keep things fresh, with her distinctive abilities creating a nice change in the pace of the battle sequences.

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The Sokovia problem

There's no doubt that the arrival of Danvers in Age of Ultron could have had the potential to dramatically reshape the MCU going forward. As we saw in her long-awaited solo film, once she did come onto the scene, Carol Danvers ended up being a character that brought humanity and the cosmos together in one persona. From her human history as an Air Force pilot to her career as a Kree soldier, the Blockbuster Girl has had a heck of an impact wherever she's gone so far.

If Captain Marvel had arrived as a fully-operating Avenger to help wrap up the situation back in Sokovia, she probably would have been integrated into the Avengers' storyline from there forward. This might sound cool at first, but when the rubber hit the road, having Danvers around from there forward probably would have been tougher sledding than one might think.

Age of Ultron marked a change in the tone of the Avengers films, as the Sokovia Accords unfolded and the crew began to chafe under the strain of government intervention. Finding a way to keep the newly-arrived Danvers both compliant and involved throughout this arc stretches the imagination a bit. She's not as cooperative as, say, Vision, and if she had decided to go her own way, it could have complicated things down the road. Although to be fair, that ended up happening in the Civil War scenario, anyway.

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Fitting into Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is one of the significant films in the MCU canon. Its conflict between heroes set a moral compass and laid out a path forward for the entire cast of characters. This only worked, though, because the split between Team Cap and Team Iron Man was so evenly matched. Consider how the presence of Vision on Stark's side could have created a lopsided twist, if not for Scarlet Witch and her Mind-Stone-based powers allying with Rogers. The space-bound Thor and Hulk remained absent, and Doctor Strange was still likely somewhere in the midst of his origin story.

With the team divvied up so well, the presence of Carol Danvers would have been a bit difficult to reckon with. From photon blasts to her incredible strength, she could have bowled right over either team with one hand tied behind her back. Honestly, the likely solution for the filmmakers would have been writing her out of the story altogether. Maybe she could have disappeared to attend to the Kree-Skrull War at that point, as she did at the end of Captain Marvel. The only problem is if she had done that, she would have been persona non grata for who knows how long, making her brief would-be introduction in Ultron feel downright baffling.

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A Strange connection

While picturing Carol Danvers participating in the Sokovia and Civil War scenarios is fun, another story arc that would have been affected by an earlier Captain Marvel entrance is that of Doctor Stephen Strange. Strange, who is similarly overpowered and intimately connected to an Infinity Stone, has managed to be both instrumental and simultaneously a consistent side character throughout his MCU career. After his solo flick, he managed to make a brief appearance in Thor: Ragnarok as well as play a role in Infinity War, all while having his own motivations unfold quietly on the sidelines. Strange and Danvers also have a similar snarky streak in their interactions with friends and enemies alike.

If Carol Danvers had been wandering around the MCU since the second Avengers movie, it's not hard to imagine her serving in a similar capacity to the good doctor, hopping into the scene when required, but otherwise tending to her own business. After all, it's not like Vers doesn't have other things to do — like that time she left earth in the '90s to tend to the Kree Skrull War and didn't come back for over twenty years. The similarities in power, tone, and tangential responsibilities make Strange a decent example of how Carol Danvers could have been plugged into the MCU without needing to be too intimately involved in any one scenario in particular along the way.

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Danvers, Guardian of the Galaxy?

If she had entered the MCU way back in 2015, probably the easiest franchise that Carol Danvers could have crossed over to from there would have been the Guardians of the Galaxy. Volume 2, which came out after Age of Ultron, sported a universe-wide storyline that was scaled to the likes of Ms. Danvers' powers. The film also had a supercharged villain in Ego that actually could have been a challenge for her to take on.

Not only that, but Guardians 2 is the one other movie with an Easter egg reference to the Kree homeworld of Hala, while the first film has Korath and Ronan featured as villains. In other words, the Guardians are already familiar with the same galactic setting as Carol Danvers, and their film could have provided the perfect setting for a strong, space-centered crossover completely independent of the Avengers back on earth. If they could have found a way to get Thor into the mix too, well, that's a sci-fi flick worth its weight in gold.

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Danvers vs. Surtur

Speaking of Thor, while the first two installments of his series were inevitably Earth-focused in spite of their Asgardian beginnings, Thor: Ragnarok finally blew the roof off the hero's franchise, in many ways reset his character, and even sent him hurtling into the far reaches of the cosmos to boot. The third movie spent a good portion of its time in space, especially on Sakaar, once again making it a prime candidate for a Carol Danvers cameo. 

Plus, Ragnarok already featured one of the best crossover moments in the history of the MCU via Hulk's surprising appearance as a gladiatorial hero on the garbage planet. With director Taika Waititi's skill in seamlessly weaving together characters from other storylines, Danvers would have been an ideal candidate to work into the story. Line her up next to the Revengers and let her loose on Surtur. Now that's a fight we want to see.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp... and Vers

The Ant-Man franchise has produced a pair of films since Age of Ultron, with the second movie in particular exploring the Quantum Realm. Comic fans will recall that Carol Danvers is no stranger to the concept of other dimensions. Her storyline with Immortus, while an absolutely creepy low point in her own character's history, certainly acquainted her with the idea of living outside of the reality she calls home.

Danvers' familiarity with inter-dimensional concepts would have made her a prime candidate to get in on the Quantum Realm action, teaming up with Hank Pym back in the '90s or suiting up side by side with Scott Lang during the actual Ant-Man anthology as he started to explore the otherworldly spaces. With hints that Black Knight could be coming down the pike and a deleted scene revealing that the Quantum Realm is swarming with "worlds upon worlds" and "entire civilizations," the thought of having Captain Marvel helping to blaze the trail into the Quantum Realm is a pretty sweet "what if" scenario. It's also one that could still take place, as Hank Pym actor Michael Douglass has gone on record saying that the Quantum Realm is "the key" to the next chapters of the MCU.

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Danvers in Infinity War

The arrival of Carol Danvers is guaranteed to be an Endgame-changer. With so many heroes knocked out of action at the end of Infinity War, it'll be interesting to see how the new captain helps the team bring the Mad Titan down. However, it stands to reason that if she had entered the picture all the way back at the end of Phase 2, Captain Marvel could have already been on hand when Infinity War took place. Sure, she could have still easily been absent in a galaxy far, far away at the time, but the same could be said for the Guardians of the Galaxy, and they got roped into the action.

What if Captain Marvel had been on hand when Thanos arrived? Whether it was in the fight on Titan or the Battlefield of Wakanda, you can bet she wouldn't have sat back and let the others do the dirty work. With the power of the Time Stone, the Mind Stone, and the Tesseract all actively working together, one has to wonder if the Avengers couldn't have stopped the purple dude dead in his tracks and prevented the snap from ever happening in the first place.

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Happy Feige

In the interview with Birth.Movies.Death., Feige made it abundantly clear that he wasn't a fan of Whedon's idea for a Captain Marvel debut in Age of Ultron from day one. The Marvel boss thought it would do Danvers "a disservice" if she arrived on the scene already fully adorned in her superhero persona. Now that Captain Marvel, the movie, has become a reality, it's plain to see why Feige wanted to save her for her own solo flick. 

The Captain Marvel movie put us in Carol's place and allowed us to follow her as she re-learned who she was and, in turn, learned who she had become after the accident with the Tesseract. The scene where she "awakens" as she hurtles towards Earth, showing up only moments later flying through the air with the greatest of ease is the kind of scene that you could never squeeze into a crossover event. The film was an excellent introduction to a character that will likely carry much of the MCU for the next several years, and with Endgame arriving weeks after her film hit theaters, it ended up being a very well-timed addition in the end, as well.

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Danvers' Endgame

For all these reasons, it was certainly a good move not to introduce Carol Danvers via a crossover event. While it's fun to imagine the space cadet blasting her way through Phase 3 from one end to the other, at the end of the day, her potential was too juicy to not save for an origin story. But, now that Danvers has officially entered the scene, it makes her presence in future crossovers an incredibly exciting concept. And, of course, the fact that a character this powerful is going to join forces with the Avengers for the first time in a flick as big as Endgame sends the anticipation through the roof.

We know, thanks to the mid-credit scene from the film, that Captain Marvel does, eventually, answer the pager, even if it's after the surviving Avengers have had to boost it with an external power source. Her arrival back on earth greased the wheels perfectly for her role in Endgame to start off full steam. And now that she's finally made her long-anticipated debut, it's time to sit back and watch the show.