11:16am PT by Richard Newby
Where 'Captain Marvel' Sequel Could Go
[This story contains spoilers for Captain Marvel]
Captain Marvel is photon blasting her way through the box office this weekend, and as if there was ever any doubt, Marvel Studios has a lot of plans for the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward.
Brie Larson's Carol Danvers is said to have a big part in Avengers: Endgame, and with Chris Evans expected to exit and Robert Downey Jr.'s fate unclear after Endgame, Captain Marvel stands to become one of the MCU’s most important players, alongside Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man. Team-ups between Carol and a new iteration of the Avengers seems inevitable, but there’s also plenty of space (literally and figuratively) for Carol to move about in when it comes to her own solo adventures.
Keeping in mind the personal stakes and scale of Captain Marvel, and holding off on a few big ideas that would make for epic Avengers stories, there are quite a few corners of the Marvel Universe that could be explored in the sequels to Captain Marvel after that ending.
At the end of Captain Marvel, Carol sets off to relocate a family of Skrulls, and she doesn’t show up on Earth again, at least as far we know, until 24 years later. One of the biggest questions a Captain Marvel sequel will have to answer, a question Avengers: Endgame will surely be too packed to devote much time to, is what Carol has been up to for the past two and a half decades. At the end of the film, she gives Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) a modified pager to contact her in case of emergency, but its range is limited to only operate within a couple galaxies. Was the event of Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) decimation the first time Fury felt Earth was under enough of a threat to give her a call, or did he try to reach her during the Chitauri attack, too, during The Avengers (2012)? And how did Carol cruise through the universe without catching wind of what Thanos was up to, or Ronan’s (Lee Pace) turn to zealotry as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)? Whatever the case, Carol was definitely up to something over all those years and her unfinished business with the Supreme Intelligence and Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) seems like something that wouldn’t simply happen out of frame. Assuming those threads will be followed up on in a modern-day set sequel rather than another prequel, hopefully Carol’s missing time gets filled in with purposeful adventures that will have already cemented her place in the universe and open up doors to new galaxies, alien races, and conflicts.
One of the strongest elements of Captain Marvel is the buddy chemistry between Larson and Jackson. Larson, who worked with Jackson in Kong: Skull Island (2017) and her directorial debut Unicorn Store, was instrumental in pushing for Jackson to play a significant role in Captain Marvel. Even though Jackson has been a key part of the MCU since the beginning with Iron Man (2008), Captain Marvel illuminates far more about the mysterious super-spy than ever before (including the story behind that signature missing eye). Although Fury is currently dust in the wind thanks to Thanos’ snap, he’s already set to return in this summer’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. Given Captain Marvel’s mid-credit scene, Carol Danvers undoubtedly plays an instrumental role in his return to the land of the living. There’s certainly a lot more that could be explored with Fury in the future, especially if he’s pulled out of the background and roped into one of Carol’s galactic missions. Nick Fury in space is something the MCU hasn’t delivered on yet that would be a blast to see. But from a larger story standpoint, Nick Fury and Carol Danvers’ friendship could lead to the creation of S.W.O.R.D.
In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department), is an intelligence agency not unlike SHIELD, but with the select purpose of dealing with extraterrestrial threats and letting Earth’s heroes know what the galactic situation is before it lands on their doorstep. The director of S.W.O.R.D., the green-haired, half-alien mutant, Abigail Brand, recently served with Captain Marvel as a member of Alpha Flight, Earth’s first line of defense against alien hostiles. Carol and Brand’s relationship began as antagonistic in the comics, though they share more qualities than not. Brand not only provides a means to start opening the door to mutants in the MCU, but she’s also another friend Carol can lean on, one whose alien heritage gives her insight to struggles Maria Rambeau and Nick Fury might not be aware of. If the MCU is going to take a more cosmic focus going forward, then it makes sense that S.W.O.R.D. and Brand would become recognizable and much relied-upon figures within this universe. And who knows, maybe there’s room for a Guardian of the Galaxy or two aboard S.W.O.R.D.’s roster.
An evil alien race that Carol Danvers has come across in the comics again and again, the Brood are a sharp departure from the humanoid aliens we’ve primarily seen in the MCU so far. Insect-like, and comprising a hive that follows a queen, the Brood are vicious parasites that impregnate their hosts with an egg that rewrites the host body and turns it into a brood. The Brood have gone after superpowered individuals because their ability to take control of the host allows the newly transformed Brood to emerge with those powers. While they’ve often set their sights on the X-Men, both Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers have had numerous run-ins with the Brood. Danvers, in the aftermath of losing her powers to Rogue, was famously experimented on by the Brood, who tapped into the full potential of her Kree powers and she transformed into the orange-skinned cosmic hero Binary, who could draw the power of a star through a “white hole.” While Captain Marvel put some of Carol’s Binary powers on display (in the comics Carol didn’t have photon blasts or energy powers until her encounter with the Brood), that doesn’t mean the Brood wouldn’t make an enticing threat. And given the Broods' frequent comparisons to the Xenomorphs, it would be entertaining to see Carol Danvers have her own, self-aware, stab at living up to Ellen Ripley and taking on alien bugs. Oh, and I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to Carol taking her Flerken, Goose, along for the ride to munch on some alien baddies as well. While the Brood are unlikely to be the central threat, they could certainly add a sense of menace and allow for some splattery action sequences.
Deathbird and the Shi’Ar
Carol Danvers has never had a surplus of adversaries. Yon-Rogg was a leftover from Mar-vell’s time as Captain Marvel, and the Supreme Intelligence was an Avengers-size threat. Most of Carol’s solo adventures saw her facing off against D-list villains like the cyborg Doomsday Man, Grotesque a Cro-Magnon subterranean prince, the Greek sorcerous Hecate. Two of her most frequently appearing villains were M.O.D.O.K. and A.I.M. While M.O.D.O.K. is certainly a poster child for toxic masculinity (and is set to receive his own animated Hulu series with Patton Oswalt) and A.I.M. was already introduced in Iron Man III (2013), we have a more fitting adversary in mind.
One of the only notable villains to actually debut in the pages of Ms. Marvel is Deathbird, the exiled Shi’Ar warrior and sister to the empress Liliandra (frequent associate of the X-Men and romantic interest of Charles Xavier). The metal winged and taloned Deathbird, Cal'syee Neramani, was originally hired by M.O.D.O.K. to take down Ms. Marvel, though over the years her connection to Carol became more pronounced as the Kree and Shi’Ar empires found themselves in a conflict that eventually began a war. While a full Shi’Ar-Kree War is perhaps too much for a solo film, Deathbird’s emergence could pave the way for a larger MCU conflict, not unlike the Skrulls’ search for a new homeworld in Captain Marvel. The exiled Shi’Ar warrior also allied herself with the Brood in order to take the Shi’Ar throne from her sister, and that’s a scenario we could easily see fitting into a Captain Marvel sequel. Deathbird not only provides an opportunity to give the MCU another female villain, a department in which it's lacking, but also finds Carol embroiled in a conflict with a warrior who has nothing to lose and no honor, unlike her Kree adversaries. We often hear that heroes are only as good as their villains, and while that fact is debatable, Deathbird has the opportunity to rise to the challenge and make Carol an even stronger Captain Marvel.
Although we’re surely a few years off from a Captain Marvel sequel, the future for the character certainly looks bright. Even if she doesn’t have the recognizable list of supporting characters and adversaries like Captain America, Spider-Man or Iron Man, there’s a lot of Marvel Universe waiting out there for Carol Danvers to make her mark on.