Every Captain Marvel Reference & Easter Egg You Might Have Missed
By Michael Rougeau | @RogueCheddar and Meg Downey on
What does Captain Marvel reveal about Avengers: Endgame?
Hey, did you know Captain Marvel is set in the '90s? Because it's set in the '90s. And in case you hadn't heard, it's chock-full of '90s-appropriate Easter eggs and references for you to relive some of that childhood nostalgia. And if you're too young to remember what the '90s were like, Captain Marvel also works as a movie full of cool retro stuff to laugh about from the viewpoint of its sheer weirdness factor alone.
Of course, Captain Marvel wasn't all throwbacks--though there were a bunch of them. Peppered amidst the clunky early internet tech, pay phones, and soundtrack full of earworms were some fantastic comic book nods that helped flesh out not only Carol Danvers' own personal story but the world of the Kree and Skrulls within the MCU. Captain Marvel carefully plucks bits of Carol's complicated, retcon-laden history out of the comics and repurposes them for the big screen, but don't panic, we carefully combed through every last detail that may have slipped by unnoticed.
Many of the small details in Captain Marvel reveal things about the MCU, including the present day Avengers Initiative and Nick Fury's backstory. With this movie strategically coming between two Avengers movies, it's also possible we've learned some important information for Avengers: Endgame.
While Endgame is sure to be an even bigger movie, Captain Marvel has been no slouch at the box office. In less than a month, its gross has nearly topped $1 billion worldwide and broken a variety of records. This is notable for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it's Marvel's first female-led superhero movie.
With Endgame's release approaching--it's in theaters on April 26--let's take a look at all the Easter eggs and references in Captain Marvel.
1. "Thank You Stan"
The typical MCU introduction has been completely overhauled as a thank you/in memoriam to Stan Lee, who passed away late last year. As a staple cameo in every MCU film to date, there couldn't have been a more fitting tribute. Check out our ranking of Stan's best MCU cameos for more.
2. The Last Blockbuster
Carol crash lands on Earth smack dab in the middle of a Blockbuster, 1990s America's favorite video store--you know, back when you had to actually leave the house to rent a movie, and there was about a 50/50 chance that the VHS you picked up would be damaged beyond repair or recorded over with someone's home movie, if they even had it in stock to begin with. What a time to be alive.
3. Remember True Lies?
The 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis thriller has a nice little shout-out via a cardboard standee Carol blasts to pieces. Sorry, Arnold.
4. What about Hook?
Carol doesn't appreciate the fact that she walks right by a rentable copy of Hook, but we sure do. Honestly, it's high time for someone in the MCU to make a Rufio joke.
5. The Right Stuff
When Carol crash lands in the Blockbuster, the first VHS tape she picks up just so happens to be the 1983 classic The Right Stuff, a movie chronicling the first years of America's space program. Get it? Because Carol's from space? And also was a test pilot for the Air Force?
6. That Soundtrack
Captain Marvel's soundtrack is absolutely bursting with 1990s grunge and pop earworms, including:
"Whatta Man" by Salt 'N' Pepa feat. En Vogue
"Only Happy When it Rains" by Garbage
"Waterfalls" by TLC
"Come As You Are" by Nirvana
"Just A Girl" by No Doubt
"Celebrity Skin" by Hole
"Man on the Moon" by REM
(Also, there's a Smashing Pumpkins poster in the parking lot where Carol lands.)
7. Remember Mallrats?
Stan Lee's typical cameo as an in-universe character--usually a random old man who gets a single line in each MCU film--gets a nice twist in Captain Marvel, as Lee actually plays himself in this movie. You can tell, because he's reading a script for the 1995 Kevin Smith movie Mallrats, in which Lee also played himself.
8. Kelly Sue DeConnick on the subway
There's another comics creator cameo besides Stan Lee in Captain Marvel. In the subway station, Carol makes brief eye contact with a red-haired woman. If her appearance seems significant, it's because she's comics writer Kelly Sue DeConnick, who helped create the version of Carol Danvers' Captain Marvel we know today.
9. A world before Google
When Carol uses an ancient 1990s computer in her search for answers, she doesn't head to Google, like any sane 2019 person would. She uses AltaVista, an era-appropriate search engine that anyone who used the internet in the '90s probably remembers.
10. Street Fighter II
The dive bar in which Carol and Nick Fury pow-wow features a fun gaming Easter egg in the background: A Street Fighter II arcade cabinet. SF2 hit arcades in 1991, so it makes perfect sense that it would be glimpsed in somewhat dumpy bar in 1995.
11. Getting Grungey
The distinctly '90s look that Carol borrows from a mannequin after crash landing on Earth, including the signature Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, is called "grunge." For you kids out there, grunge was popularized largely by Nirvana. By 1995, the style was already on its was to decline, though its influence can be seen today in ripped jeans and dirty flannels everywhere.
12. Nick Fury's history
Captain Marvel reveals plenty of potentially important details about Nick Fury's origins, including that he spent time as a spy before becoming an agent of SHIELD.
13. Fury's full name
The movie also reveals something that probably won't turn out to be important, but that we never knew before: Fury's middle name. His full name is Nicholas Joseph Fury. Now don't you feel like you know him a little bit better? Which is nice, because he's currently dust. :(
14. The origin of the pager
Avengers: Infinity War famously ended with an excellent Captain Marvel teaser, as Nick Fury sent a message on what looked like a modified relic of 1990s technology. In Captain Marvel, we learned the device's origins--and it turns out we were exactly right. It was a normal pager until Carol modified it and gave it to Fury in the event he should need to contact her across the wide depths of space.
15. Lawson is Mar-Vell
There was plenty of debate leading up to Captain Marvel's release about who would play Mar-Vell, a comics character with a long history. Was Jude Law's character really Mar-Vell? Who was actress Annette Bening playing? As it turned out, Law's character is actually a Kree named Yon-Rogg, and Bening played Dr. Lawson, who turned out to be the Kree Mar-Vell hiding in plain sight on Earth.
16. How I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air
Maria Rambeau's daughter Monica makes a fun reference to one of our favorite '90s TV shows: When trying to persuade her mother to embark on a dangerous mission with their old friend Carol, she mentions that the alternative is to sit on the couch watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. We know what we'd prefer.
17. It wouldn't be an MCU movie without an Infinity Stone
The MCU's favorite MacGuffin plays a surprise huge role in Captain Marvel. We had no idea going into the movie, but the Tesseract--ie the Space Stone--was the subject of Mar-Vell's research on Earth, and is the source of Carol's powers. No doubt this will be important in Avengers: Endgame--check out our full breakdown of the Tesseract's history and role for more.
18. A full view of Project Pegasus
Along with a lost chapter in the Tesseract's history comes a full look into Project Pegasus, the secret SHIELD initiative dedicated to studying the strange blue cube's powers. Previously, Pegasus had been referenced in comics and Easter eggs throughout the MCU, up to its destruction in the first Avengers movie.
19. Even more '90s (and earlier) nods
Captain Marvel's production design is exceptional. Everywhere you look--even on Mar-Vell's Kree ship that was hiding in orbit around Earth--there are relics of the '90s and earlier decades, from Troll dolls and pinball machines to the Space Invaders cabinet and even the Happy Days lunchbox that briefly holds the Tesseract. Fun stuff!
20. The NERF gun
This one was too good for us not to call it out specifically. When Minn-Erva and Carol finally face off, the Kree's opening salvo involves shooting our hero with what she likely believes is simply a garishly colored Earth weapon, with hopefully devastating properties. Instead, it's a beloved NERF gun that every '90s kid distinctly remembers losing every dart for and then letting it gather dust in your closet until your parents finally made you donate it to Goodwill.
21. The Rambeaus
Monica and Maria Rambeau are staples of Carol's comic book history, though normally she's the same age as Monica rather than Maria. As an adult, Monica even took over the mantle of Captain Marvel briefly before Carol did. Similar to Carol, Monica received her powers in a freak accident which exposed her to extra dimensional energy--so maybe with some luck we'll see an adult Monica Rambeau get her very own origin story in the MCU somewhere down the line.
22. "Photon" and "Avenger"
Carol's MCU callsign "Avenger" obviously played a major role in Fury naming the Avengers Initiative, but Maria's callsign "Photon" is actually a pretty deep cut comics reference. Maria's daughter, Monica, used the name Photon as her own superhero identity after she gave up being Captain Marvel in 1996.
23. The Supreme Intelligence
The Kree follow the will of an artificial intelligence known as the Supreme Intelligence which has taken a couple forms in the comics over the years, usually as some sort of giant head in a glass tube--not Annette Bening, so that's a new one. But the Intelligence itself, and all of its megalomaniacal Kree-first directives, are all straight from the source material.
24. Ronan and the Accusers
Guardians of the Galaxy fans will recognize blue Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, the first major villain the Guardians faced off against. Ronan's not quite as unhinged here in 1995 but he's certainly still not a great dude--and he and his Accusers are more than ready to eliminate any threat to the Kree empire they perceive.
25. Carol's origin story
Carol's comic book origin story has been given a number of overhauls in the past, so the MCU's rendition of events doesn't quite follow any one particular plot to the letter, but it does prominently borrow from the first origin Carol received, when she was caught in the explosion of an experimental piece of tech called the "psyche-magnetron" which spliced her DNA with Mar-Vell's.
26. The credits scenes
It wouldn't be an MCU movie without the double post credits scenes. This time around we got a good look at just what Cap, Black Widow, Banner, and Rhodey have been up to since the Snap--and at Carol's arrival on Earth, as well as the rather unfortunate arrival of the Tesseract back on Earth after the Kree almost made off with it.
27. Captain Who?
Throughout the movie, no one ever utters the phrase "Captain Marvel." It isn't printed in a newspaper headline by sensationalistic reporters, and the moniker isn't cooked up by a marketing team hoping to make money off Carol's heroics. Within the world of the MCU, Carol isn't actually called Captain Marvel, despite being a captain in the Air Force and the protege of the Kree Mar-Vell. But toward the end, Nick Fury does make a reference to the movie's title, when he refers to Carol's mentor as "Marvel" (pronouncing it like the title instead of the proper hyphenated Kree name) and likening her to the 1960s singing group the Marvelettes.