WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
As the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel features plenty of nods and references to the past and future of the shared cinematic reality as audiences watch Carol Danvers' road to assuming the eponymous superhero mantle.
Taking place in 1995, part of a decade largely unexplored in the Marvel Studios franchise, the film features characters, items and organizations that played pivotal roles in MCU movies past. Here are some of the biggest and best Easter eggs to be found in Marvel's latest blockbuster.
KORATH AND RONAN
With the Kree playing a central role in the film, future Guardians of the Galaxy villains Korath and Ronan the Accuser both appear in Captain Marvel in a limited capacity, nearly two decades before the duo go rogue and obtain the Power Stone.
Ronan is seen as the leader of the Accusers, a fleet of bombers that devastate entire planets as part of the Kree's goals of galactic conquest. Korath is a team member alongside Carol on Starforce, an elite peacekeeping ensemble employed by the Kree to undergo high-level missions around the universe.
FURY AND COULSON
Nick Fury and Phil Coulson's early days with S.H.I.E.L.D. are revealed in Captain Marvel. Fury's interest in superheroes and the loss of his eye are both showcased in the film. Fury refers to Coulson as "the new guy," and the origins of the two men's working relationship is explored when Coulson lets his co-worker go after suspecting him of colluding with Skrulls.
By the time both men are seen over a decade later in Iron Man, they are both veteran operatives with the organization with Coulson assuring Tony Stark and Pepper Potts that the incident with Obadiah Stone is "not his first rodeo." Fury has risen even further, serving as the director of the top secret agency and sporting an eyepatch to conceal his lost eye.
With a cameo in every single MCU movie since 2008's Iron Man, Stan Lee's posthumous appearance here is on a subway car as Carol searches for a Skrull who attacked her shortly after arriving on Earth. Lee is seen reading Kevin Smith's screenplay for 1996's Mallrats, one of Lee's first major cinematic roles. As Lee quotes a line from the comedy, "Trust me, true believer," Carol stops and smiles in a self-referential nod at the late comic book creator.
Additionally, a tribute to Lee is included over the familiar Marvel Studios logo, with the usual superhero montage replaced by clips of Lee's previous cameos along with behind-the-scenes footage of the MCU stars thanking him for his extensive contributions in helping create the Marvel Universe.
KELLY SUE DECONNICK
Another, much briefer, cameo occurs directly after the subway action sequence in the film. As Carol exits the train and searches for her Skrull attacker in the subway station, comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick can be seen walking by.
DeConnick wrote an acclaimed run on Captain Marvel with artist David Lopez that informed much of the MCU film, with DeConnick also serving as a creative consultant on the production. In the end credits, DeConnick and Lopez both get a special thanks from the filmmakers for their influence on the film.