Wednesday was a slightly irritating day, and not just because it was another trek through the dark parade of pain that is American political life in 2018. No, it was because we thought we’d be getting a Captain Marvel trailer, and instead, all we got were a few pictures. But those pictures—and the accompanying plot details—have some fan theories gathering super-powered steam again.
Given that people like Samuel L. Jackson have already developed ideas of how they think the story of Brie Larson’s upcoming Marvel superhero debut will impact Avengers 4 (and granted, he’s got a bit of an inside scoop), a lot of this is just a continuation of suspicions folks already had, but there’s a couple of intriguing elements that boost certain theories over others. For example, we have the heartening news this won’t just be an origin story. Larson’s Carol Danvers, a half-human, half-Kree (a powerful alien race) has already left earth, joined the Kree military as a pilot, and is trying to reconcile her strange existence. Entertainment Weekly explains the vague outlines of the plot thusly:
Carol finds herself back on Earth with new questions about her past. And she’s got a formidable enemy in the form of the Skrulls—the notorious Marvel baddies made all the more dangerous by their shape-shifting abilities. Ben Mendelsohn plays their leader Talos, who spearheads a Skrull invasion of Earth.
The fact that the Skrull’s shape-shifting powers are already being discussed suggests the talent will play a major role in the film, and many believe this is how Marvel will integrate the “Secret Invasion” storyline into Avengers 4. This is the comics arc in which Skrulls replaced numerous super-powered individuals on the planet, meaning it’s possible that at least one or more of the heroes from Avengers: Infinity War is actually a Skrull in disguise. That would be a hell of a lot of narrative work for a standalone Captain Marvel film to integrate into part two of the biggest Marvel film in history, but it’s possible.
More ambiguous is the degree to which other elements from Captain Marvel may or may not play a role in Avengers 4. We now know, for example, that Starforce is introduced in the ’90s-set film, a team of Kree military badasses. It includes sniper Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan), Djimon Hounsou’s warrior Korath (first seen fighting—and dying—in Guardians Of The Galaxy), and Jude Law’s character. However, it was long assumed Law was playing Larson’s mentor Mar-Vell, a.k.a. the original Captain Marvel, yet now Marvel is refusing to say the name of his role. “He is driven by a belief in the divine leadership of the Kree people,” Law explains. “So he’s almost a devout warrior — unquestioning, conservative, but inspirational.” The possibility he’s someone other than Mar-Vell means it’s possible Law’s fighter could die, or even be revealed as a secret baddie himself. Larson gives a few more details about their contentious relationship:
“There’s a lot and back and forth that comes with the two of them, which kind of creates a little bit of tension with the rest of Starforce. “Like, ‘Why do they have a special relationship, and why isn’t it me?’”
However, if you look at something else Law adds, it suggests his mentor may have an Uncle Ben-esque role, and perhaps even an untimely exit: “These extraordinary powers she has, he sees them as something of a blessing and something that she has to learn how to control. That’s a motif throughout the piece, the element of learning to control one’s emotions and to use your powers wisely.” True, this might just be to throw us off the trail of his villainy, and maybe he even does the classic villain thing of assuming that she’ll join his evil team once she realizes his logic is impeccable, or some such stupidity.
Lee Pace’s Ronan The Accuser (remember the guy Star-Lord distracts with a dance-off at the end of Guardians Vo. 1, right before they blow him to smithereens?) is also present here, and still a respected Kree figure, not the gibbering religious zealot we know. Of course, he likely can’t figure into the plot of Avengers 4, what with being incredibly dead, but still, all these Kree-Skrull elements do imply something more than just Carol Danvers swooping in to help save the day, thanks to the little communication device Nick Fury activated in the Infinity War post-credits scene. Or maybe it will be exactly that—isn’t reading way too deeply into these details rewarding? (Compared to the horrors of current events, yes, it really is.) Consider us skeptical that Avengers 4 would turn over so much of its story to a hero Marvel just introduced a few months’ earlier; our money is still on Captain Marvel lending a supporting hand to the OG Avengers—who all survived Thanos’ finger-snap—as they set things right.