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We finally understand how Captain Marvel found Tony in space

Everyone knows that Brie Larson's Captain Marvel is as strong a superhero as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen, with Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige repeatedly stating that she's the most powerful vigilante in the entire film series thus far. That considered, it was little wonder that Captain Marvel was able to fly in and rescue Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) at the start of Avengers: Endgame. And yet, Captain Marvel's Photon-blasting fists and otherworldly strength weren't quite enough to distract from a big question: How did she find the two heroes who were on the brink of death? 

Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo finally reveals the answer. 

In the commentary track included on the digital release of Avengers: Endgame, Russo explained that Carol Danvers didn't automatically know where in space Tony Stark and Nebula were stranded. In actuality, after receiving an emergency page from Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Carol went to Earth first, met with the Avengers who had survived Thanos' (Josh Brolin) snap, and found out that Tony and Nebula were about to die from lack of food, water, and oxygen. She learned that there's a homing beacon on the Benatar ship, which Tony and Nebula were flying, and tracked it to locate their exact position in space. 

"The missing narrative of course is that she came to Earth, met the Avengers, was brought up to speed on what was happening, and there's some sort of homing beacon on that ship that she tracks and brings the two of them back to Earth," Russo detailed.

In the mid-credits scene of Captain Marvel, audiences saw Carol meeting the Avengers prior to saving Tony and Nebula, but that moment wasn't fully followed up on in Endgame and neither movie explicitly explained what happened at Avengers HQ that led Carol to the lost superheroes. While fans have become accustomed to sticking around for after-credits stingers and they could piece together an explanation for the rescue using the information at hand, it's relieving to finally hear the full answer from Russo himself. 

This is a straightforward explanation to one of the biggest leaps in logic in the whole of Avengers: Endgame, and it's actually good that it's so simple. It's also something fans have speculated was the true explanation for Captain Marvel's seemingly miraculous rescue of Iron Man and Nebula. Prior to Russo's run-down of the rescue, Marvelites used the Captain Marvel mid-credits sequence as the basis for an explanation. Knowing that Carol did indeed met up with Earth's Mightiest Heroes at Avengers HQ before saving the two lost heroes, fans theorized that one hero — likely Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), who knows the ins and outs of the Guardians of the Galaxy's Benatar ship — may have told Carol where she needed to go. Others others believed that the Benatar must have been sending some kind of distress signal for the 21 to 22 days that Iron Man and Nebula were idling in the ship in open space, and that the Avengers picked up on the signal and sent Captain Marvel out to save them, knowing she was capable of doing so. 

While Captain Marvel's rescue of Iron Man and Nebula may have been a bit confusing given the "missing narrative" Russo mentioned, it did an excellent job of tying up the loose threads left dangling following the Avengers: Infinity War post-credits scene in which Fury pages Carol seconds before he crumbles into dust after Thanos' initial snap. It was also a great way to bring Captain Marvel into the present day after her '90s-set solo movie and show that she's a Herculean addition to the Avengers coalition. 

However, this wasn't how Captain Marvel was first intended to be introduced. 

Russo detailed that he, co-director Anthony Russo, and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely originally wrote the rescue scene without revealing that Carol was responsible for it. The team initially wanted to hide that Captain Marvel was the hero who rocked up to the Benatar and flew it back to Earth. Instead, it would only be implied that she was saving Iron Man and Nebula, at least at first.

"The idea would be that there'd be orange light on Tony's face, he'd see something, the audience wouldn't see it," McFeely revealed.

This is close to what we saw in Avengers: Endgame, as the film does show an orange light beaming across Tony's face as he nearly succumbs to death. The bright light causes him to peel open his eyes, and a look of surprise spreads over his face. The earlier cut of the movie apparently wouldn't have shown us that it was Captain Marvel outside the Benatar, saving the reveal for later when she brings the ship to Earth. Ultimately, the creative crew decided that wouldn't be "a successful reveal" and opted to show Captain Marvel in all her glory. 

Now that this Avengers: Endgame mystery has finally been solved, Marvel zombies can focus their attention on speculating when Captain Marvel will make her return to the MCU. Her sequel film wasn't announced for Phase 4, but fans aren't convinced that she'll be sitting on the sidelines until that phase wraps in 2021. Who knows? Maybe Carol will swoop in and save her fellow superheroes from death for a second time.