A bit of background
Carol Danvers has been kicking around Marvel comics for 50 years, first as a supporting character for the original Captain Marvel (a Kree captain literally named Mar-Vell) and later as a superhero in her own right after an explosion caused her DNA to bind with Mar-Vell’s. While she’s gone by a number of names over the years, including Ms. Marvel, Binary, and Warbird, she’s been using the Captain Marvel monicker since 2012, after some gentle prodding from none other than Captain America.
Because of her partial Kree DNA, as well as some later experimentations by bug alien Brood, Captain Marvel has superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and the power to absorb and redirect energy on a cosmic scale, making her one of Earth’s mightiest heroes. She’s been on and off as an Avenger since the 1970s, even leading the team for a while during Brian Michael Bendis‘ run on the title. Recently, she played a critical role in Bendis’ Civil War II comics event.
We’re not entirely sure yet just how much of her comics background will make it into the Captain Marvel movie, but word so far suggests the movie will stick with Carol’s background as a pilot and her general power set. Moreover, Captain Marvel is going to be among the most powerful characters ever seen in the MCU, as Feige told Vulture back in 2016:
“With Captain Marvel, she is as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had. It’s important, then, to counterbalance that with someone who feels real. She needs to have a humanity to tap into, and Brie can do that.”
We also know that Captain Marvel will have Carol—played by Academy Award-winner Brie Larson—teaming up with Nick Fury and Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. to save Earth as it’s caught in the crossfire of an intergalactic war between the Kree and the shape-changing Skrulls.
— Page Six (@PageSix) January 25, 2018
The big twist? That fight happened back in the 1990s (explaining Fury’s janky old beeper at the end of Infinity War), and Captain Marvel has presumably been somewhere off in space for the two-plus decades since.
But if she’s in space, how will Captain Marvel fit into Avengers 4?
The easiest way for Captain Marvel to show up in Avengers 4 is for her to simply answer the call—er, page—and come flying back to Earth. This could set up for a major dramatic moment, as Carol arrives just as everything seems lost. Who better to save the Avengers from certain death in the third act than Captain Marvel, fresh off her own movie?
But, if she’s been gone since the ’90s—and with Nick Fury gone at the end of Infinity War—will anyone even recognize her?
One tantalizing possibility is Agent Coulson. If Coulson survived Thanos’ genocide, he would be the perfect person to introduce Carol to the Avengers (we could also get a very awkward scene where Coulson explains to his hero Captain America that, yes, he did die, but that he got better). This could also be a great time to bring the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew (or at least half of them) back into the cinematic wing of the MCU, especially if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t renewed for a sixth season.
This, though, is assuming Carol makes it back to Earth in the first place. In Infinity Gauntlet, the comic series that inspired Infinity War, Thanos’ universal genocide rekindled war between the Kree and the Skrulls, who each blamed the other for the deaths. Carol may find herself with plenty to do in space, as she struggles to keep the peace between two warring civilizations. From there, she could meet up with the Avengers in space. Rescuing Tony Stark, whom we last saw alone on the dead planet Titan, could be another epic introduction for Captain Marvel.
But will Captain Marvel actually make a difference against someone as powerful as Thanos?
While the Infinity Gauntlet gives Thanos unlimited power over reality, time, space, mind, and the soul, making him pretty much unable to be defeated when he’s on his game, Captain Marvel does have one huge advantage over the heroes who have faced off against him so far: she can absorb anything Thanos sends at her. As long as Thanos sticks to physical attacks, Carol can absorb them and send them right back at him. While this probably won’t be enough to defeat him, it might be enough to distract or detain him just enough while some master plan takes way. (And if Captain Marvel and Thor manage to tag-team against Thanos…)
Carol may not be the one who lands the final punch against Thanos or wrests the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos’ hand, she is likely to play a critical role in the battle. And, with many of the original Avengers crew set to put up the tights after Avengers 4, Captain Marvel will almost certainly be a pivotal part of the new team in the inevitable Avengers 5.
Got a theory of your own on how Captain Marvel will show up in Avengers 4? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics