This is mostly for Lainey, who thought Carol Danvers could time travel even though I told her point-blank she cannot time travel. Lainey texted me a bunch of questions about how Carol Danvers is going to fit into the Avengers, especially as Captain Marvel doesn’t really explain Carol’s power set. We see a little of what she can do – the strength, the flight, the fire fists—but the movie does not stop and detail how it all works (which is good, that would have been an awful five minutes to sit through). But the movie barely scratches the surface of Carol’s unlocked powers, so we only get a taste of her super-speed, her ability to absorb and recycle kinetic energy (that moment passes so fast, but she does take a couple direct hits from Kree spaceships and we briefly see her realize she’s fine), and that she is so strong she can withstand the vacuum of space without oxygen. So, how does this all connect with Avengers: Endgame, and what does Carol mean for the fight against Thanos?
Before anyone gets carried away—no, I don’t think Carol will be the one to finish off Thanos. Endgame is the culmination of over a decade of storytelling about six central characters, the original Avengers. I think Endgame will stay focused on them. This is their swan song, and I expect the next-gen heroes will mostly be along for the assist. But someone as powerful as Carol is exactly the kind of backup the Avengers didn’t have before, which is the focus of a scene screened at the Disney shareholders’ meeting last week (click here for a summary if you don’t mind spoilers). What Carol can do is what we just saw her do—provide a distraction. Thanos has an army, and we know he’s fond of getting other people to do his dirty work. If the Avengers end up in a multi-directional fight, well, Carol can take a lot of pieces off the board and let the others focus on target #1.
And I don’t want to hear any “why didn’t Carol kill Thanos before?” nonsense. You could just as easily say that about Thor, or Loki, or the Guardians of the Galaxy—Gamora knew what he was up to, why didn’t she treat the situation with more urgency? Thanos won because a whole lot of people dropped the ball first. Also, the universe is a big place, so who’s to say Carol even knew about Thanos? If she had known, and if she had gone after him, there would be no movie. So let’s not waste time asking why the thing that would prevent the story from existing didn’t happen.
What I most want to see in Endgame from Carol is how her powers have evolved over 25 years. We met her when she was just tapping her full potential. She’s had a quarter-century to adjust. What can she do now? (Also, since she isn’t time-travelling or aging, I guess we can add “immortal” to her powers.) And how does a fully confident Captain Marvel, with all that power, mesh with the Avengers, who just got their asses handed to them, and managed to lose Nick Fury on the way? Her first concern upon arriving back on Earth is for Fury. Not sure how she’s going to take that bit of news. (AND WHAT OF GOOSE?) She already looks kind of suspicious, and really, would she be wholly mistaken in thinking the Avengers aren’t up for it and taking over? A lot of people are asking where Carol has been during those 25 years. I’m more curious about why she doesn’t immediately take over the Avengers.