The dramatic success of Wonder Woman has proven once and for all that female-led superhero films can be blockbuster hits. Next up is 2019's Captain Marvel, an "origin story" starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers. At SDCC2017, Marvel finally revealed just how that's going to work — as they prepare to tell a story hidden in the past of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
A '90s Setting — And An Alien Threat
Back in 2015, Ant-Man revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been working with "enhanced" operatives for a long time. It made sense — in Iron Man, Nick Fury welcomed Tony Stark to a "bigger universe" of heroes. It seems Carol Danvers is another of those heroes woven into the history of the MCU; the "origin story" will be set in the 1990s.
In the comics, Carol Danvers gained superpowers due to being exposed to alien Kree energy. Fittingly, it seems the villains in Captain Marvel will be none other than the shape-shifting aliens known as the Skrulls. The Kree and the Skrulls have been at war for millennia, and Earth has been drawn into their conflicts time and again.
Until recently, we weren't sure whether or not Marvel could legally use the Skrulls at all. In the wake of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, though, we learned that the rights for the alien race are actually shared between Marvel and Fox. There are some specific Skrulls who reside with Fox — most likely the Super-Skrull, who possesses the power of the Fantastic Four — but otherwise, the Skrulls are fair game for both studios.
This story will take us back into the past of the MCU, and will introduce us to a younger, less seasoned Nick Fury. It's possible that this will even be set before Fury joined S.H.I.E.L.D.; in the MCU, the character has a long history with the United States Armed Forces and the CIA. At the very least, though, we were told that this younger version of Fury would still possess both eyes.
What Does This Mean For The MCU?
This means that Captain Marvel has existed in the MCU since the 1990s — and has been dealing with alien threats. We don't know why she wasn't involved with the Avengers Initiative, or didn't intervene during the Chitauri invasion of New York; we can presume the close of Captain Marvel may well explain that.
There are strong rumors that Brie Larson's powerful character will appear in Avengers: Infinity War, though. If that's the case, next year we'll get to meet Captain Marvel in all her glory, and the Avengers will have a powerful new ally against Thanos.
Meanwhile, Dr. Spiros Michalakis — a quantum physicist who works with Marvel Studios as a consultant — has already suggested that there'll be a tie between Captain Marvel and Ant-Man and the Wasp. He's noted that Captain Marvel's powerset, redesigned for the MCU, will somehow be linked to the Quantum Realm from Ant-Man.
More interesting is the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. has known of possible alien threats like the Skrulls since the 1990s. What's more, is it just a coincidence that Marvel is introducing the Skrulls between Infinity War and Avengers 4?
We've been told that the title of Avengers 4 would be a spoiler; could it be Secret Invasion, with the climax of Infinity War setting up an arc in which the Avengers learn they've been compromised by shapeshifting aliens? Another possibility is that the sequel will be based on one of the most loved Avengers arcs of all, "The Kree-Skrull War," in which the Avengers were drawn into the unending war between the two alien races — with tragic consequences.
Right now, we're faced with an endless stream of possibilities. This is news that will set every Marvel fan's heart racing; next year we'll meet a fully-powered Captain Marvel, possibly tied to S.W.O.R.D., and soon afterwards we'll see just how the Skrulls fit into the MCU. With their long-standing feud against the Kree in the comics, the Skrulls are sure to play a major role in the future of Marvel's cosmic range.