In March 2019 the Marvel Cinematic Universe (M.C.U.) welcomed its latest superhero to the big screen in the form of Captain Marvel. Following a tantalizing tease at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the character finally made her bow in her first solo movie. However, after the film’s release, both Kevin Feige and Samuel L. Jackson addressed a burning question.
In the last decade or so, the film-going public’s interest in comic book movies has skyrocketed, thanks in no small part to the M.C.U. Prior to the formation of that cinematic universe, though, several other superhero films had hit the big screen. The first theatrical release containing a Marvel character arrived some 75 years ago.
Indeed, back in 1944 Republic Pictures released Captain America, a 15-part serial movie starring Dick Purcell as the titular hero. Incredibly, that would be the last time that a Marvel character would appear on the big screen for over 40 years, with rivals DC Comics filling in that void. Superman was DC’s first hero to step up in 1951.
That year, Superman and the Mole Men hit theaters, with George Reeves donning the famous costume. While the “film” itself was just a pilot for the Adventures of Superman TV show, it opened a door that has yet to be closed. Following that, Batman made his cinematic bow in 1966 – before Superman returned again over a decade later.
During the 1980s Superman appeared in three sequels to his 1978 solo movie, while Batman hit the big-time thanks to director Tim Burton in 1989. That decade also marked Marvel’s return to the cinematic fray, but the results were disastrous. Howard the Duck was greeted with poor reviews and it failed to resonate with audiences, flopping at the worldwide box office.
Off the back of that disappointment in 1986, both the Punisher and Captain America got their own eponymous films a few years later. However, the movies didn’t earn a domestic theatrical release, heading straight to video instead. Following that tricky period, 1998 proved to be a pivotal year for Marvel on the big screen.
Blade was released that year, with Wesley Snipes taking on the titular role of the vampire hunter. While the character is quite different compared to more traditional superheroes, his film was a big success at the time. From there, several more Marvel characters started to appear in their own movies.
X-Men kicked things off in 2000, with the likes of Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk and The Punisher being released over the next four years. Then from 2005 to 2007 heroes such as the Fantastic Four, Elektra and Ghost Rider bagged solo films of their own. However, everything changed in 2008.
In the mid 2000s Marvel Entertainment showed a real interest in making movies independently, having worked with a number of other studios in the past. With that in mind, Iron Man became Marvel Studios’ first feature in May 2008 – earning close to $600 million at the box office. Few people could’ve predicted what happened next, though.
In the post-credits scene of Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark meets Nick Fury, as played by Samuel L. Jackson. In that short sequence, the idea of a shared cinematic universe was heavily teased. The excitement that generated only increased the following month, with The Incredible Hulk hitting the big screen.
At the very end of this second M.C.U. feature, Downey Jr. appears in a brief scene to further tease the possibilities ahead. From there, Iron Man 2 was released in May 2010, before Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger following thereafter. As audiences quickly found out, all of those films were leading up to The Avengers in 2012.
The Avengers would bring together many major M.C.U. characters for a team-up, paying off the four-year build up. Ahead of Iron Man 2’s release, the president of Marvel Studios spoke about the challenges he faced in creating this interconnected universe. “Well it is daunting but it’s fun,” Kevin Feige told MovieWeb in April 2010.
“It’s never been done before and that’s kind of the spirit everybody’s taking it in,” Feige continued. “The other filmmakers aren’t used to getting actors from other movies that other filmmakers have cast, certain plot lines that are connected or certain locations that are connected. But I think for the most part, in fact, entirely everyone was on board for it and thinks that it’s fun.”
On that note, Feige also wanted to make something perfectly clear. “We’ve always remained consistent saying that the movie that we are making comes first,” he said. “All of the connective tissue, all of that stuff is fun and is going to be very important if you want it to be.”
Feige added, “If the fans want to look further and find connections then they’re there. There are a few big ones obviously, that hopefully the mainstream audience will able to follow as well.” That latter point certainly proved to be important when The Avengers finally hit movie theaters in May 2012.
Indeed, the film went on to be a huge success at the box office, earning over $1.5 billion worldwide. The Avengers also marked the end of the M.C.U.’s first phase of movies, with Iron Man 3 kicking off Phase Two. The sequels to Thor and Captain America’s solo films came after that, while some new characters were introduced as well.
The Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man made their respective big-screen debuts at that time, with Avengers: Age of Ultron sandwiched between them. As Phase Two came to an end, a number of other heroes entered the fray in Phase Three. Those included the likes of Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Spider-Man.
With all those characters in place, the M.C.U. released its most ambitious project yet in April 2018. Avengers: Infinity War brought all of the major players together to battle the franchise’s biggest antagonist Thanos. While the film produced a number of memorable moments, the ending left audiences in complete shock.
After gathering the five Infinity Stones, Thanos “snaps” half of the universe’s population out of existence, with a number of the heroes turning to dust. However, at the very end of the credits, fans were treated to an integral stinger ahead of the next few M.C.U. movies. As Nick Fury begins to fade away after the snap, he pulls out a pager.
Just before Fury turns to dust, he activates the pager. At that point, the camera slowly zooms in on the device, which leads to the reveal of a pixelated logo. That yellow star belonged to a character named Captain Marvel, who was getting her own solo film a month ahead of Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
Back in December 1967 Gene Colan and Stan Lee created the character of Captain Marvel at Marvel Comics. At that point, though, the mantle was held by an alien man named Captain Mar-Vell. Some 15 years later Mar-Vell was killed off, with another character inheriting the title in 1982.
On that occasion, Monica Rambeau became the new Captain Marvel. From there four more characters went on to hold the title, before Carol Danvers took over in 2012. Unlike some of her predecessors, Danvers already had a long history in Marvel Comics, building a solid reputation over the years.
Created back in March 1968 by Colan and Roy Thomas, Danvers met the original Captain Marvel in her debut appearance, before becoming a hero herself. Indeed, the comic book character took on the title of Ms. Marvel in 1977 – but that wasn’t the only moniker she used in the following years.
In December 1982 Danvers adopted the name of Binary in an issue of The Uncanny X-Men. Around 16 years later, she then took on another alias in The Avengers, becoming Warbird. In July 2012 though, the character donned a more recognizable title in the form of Captain Marvel, a moniker she’s held ever since.
As Danvers and Captain Marvel share a somewhat convoluted history, the M.C.U. opted to use the former’s version of the hero in its film series. So with that in mind, it was announced in the summer of 2016 that Brie Larson had been cast in the role. Alongside her, Jackson would return as a de-aged Nick Fury, due to the movie’s 1990s setting.
Captain Marvel was eventually released in March 2019, laying the groundwork for Danvers’ future appearances in the M.C.U. Over the course of the film audiences were given a glimpse of the character’s abilities and power, with the knowledge that there was more to come. It’s been very well received so far, with the box office total reflecting that.
Captain Marvel has earned over $270 million domestically thus far, with the worldwide gross standing at more than $800 million. Despite all that success, though, some fans are still asking one question in particular. At the end of the film, Danvers hands over the pager to Fury that we eventually see in Infinity War.
With that in mind, people have been speculating as to why Fury didn’t attempt to contact Danvers sooner. Given everything that happened in the previous two Avengers films before Infinity War, it’s a question some can’t help but ask. On that note, Feige offered a couple of potential explanations.
“Well, I’d say two things,” Feige told Slash Film in March 2019 when posed the question. “One, [Captain Marvel] does say it’s gotta be a real emergency, right? Yeah. The other thing I’d say is how do you know [Fury] never hit it? How do we know he never pushed it before?”
“We’ve never seen [Fury] push it before,” Feige added. “That doesn’t mean he never did.” Meanwhile, Jackson also backed that first explanation when sharing his take on the subject. In his mind, nothing in the previous movies warranted Captain Marvel’s return to earth – but that all changed in Infinity War.
“We finally have an emergency that I feel warrants [Captain Marvel’s] presence,” Jackson told IGN. “This is unprecedented. How are you gonna fight [Thanos]? I can’t fight that. If I’m not here, I need to find someone to come here who can handle it. All [of the Avengers] are ineffective.”
Jackson then went into a bit more detail regarding that latter point about the Avengers. “They’re great for normal, everyday world disaster,” he added. “But intergalactic badass who has all the Infinity Stones needs a bit more.” As suggested by that answer, Captain Marvel could have a big role to play in the coming M.C.U. movies.
Feige has certainly hinted at that in the past, with Avengers: Endgame signaling the end of Phase Three. Following that movie, it’s been strongly rumored that Captain Marvel will become the new face of the franchise. Prior to Danvers’ big screen debut, the Marvel Studios president paid tribute to the character.
“The great thing about Captain Marvel is she is a human,” Feige said in the Captain Marvel: The Official Movie Special book. “She’s a real person, Carol Danvers, who gets these incredible powers and who has these amazing adventures in outer space. But as with all of the best Marvel characters, she needs to be very human.”
“So this is not just about somebody who is incredibly powerful and can fly around and shoot photon blasts out of her hands,” Feige continued. “It’s somebody who’s very human, who’s very vulnerable and who has multiple dimensions.” At that point, he then switched his focus to the film’s star.
Indeed, Feige recalled Larson’s enthusiasm when the pair talked about the role, ahead of her eventual casting. He also looked back at the announcement itself, which was made at the San Diego Comic-Con event in 2016. After everything was confirmed, the actress took her place among her fellow M.C.U. co-stars.
“When we found out that Brie Larson might be interested in joining our world, we had a number of meetings,” Feige said. “She was a huge fan of the character in the comics. One of the highlights of my career at Marvel was introducing her at Comic-Con and having her come out on stage.”
“[Larson was standing] there with literally almost everybody else from our movies,” Feige added. “There she was at the forefront and it was a great foreshadowing. Not just for how audiences are going to embrace Brie as this character, but also for how Captain Marvel is about to take the lead and be at the forefront of the entire Cinematic Universe.”
For fans of the M.C.U. the following period promises to be very exciting, with Avengers: Endgame hitting theaters in April 2019. The hype is certainly there to see how this particular story ends. Indeed, since going online in March 2019 the latest trailer for the movie has earned over 74 million views on YouTube.
However, after Endgame, only one more M.C.U. movie has an official release date in 2019. Spider-Man: Far From Home is set to kick off Phase Four in July, but details regarding the other confirmed sequels are fairly scarce. Given the secrecy behind the latest Avengers film, though, that might not be too surprising.