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How Captain Marvel's Ending Changes the Course of the MCU

Captain Marvel

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.

Captain Marvel delivers one of Marvel Studios' most sprawling adventures to date. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck bring Brie Larson's Carol Danvers to life as undoubtedly the most powerful superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but not without monumental obstacles placed in her way.

Rescued, assimilated and trained as a weapon by the alien Kree after a plane crash in which she lost her memories, Carol discovers that her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) is actually a terrorist who wants to wipe out the shape-shifting Skrulls, who seek only refuge from their enemies. As the finale pits Captain Marvel against her former brethren, she digs deep to break free of her Kree conditioning and unleash her true power, setting her on a course to change the fate of the galaxy.

THE KREE COULD RETURN ... BIGGER AND BADDER

As Carol reconciles her past on Earth, she discovers her former boss and mentor at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Benning) was secretly Mar-Vell, a Kree scientist who used the Tesseract -- as Marvel Cinematic Universe fans know, it's actually a containment vessel for the Soul Stone -- to create an energy core and light-speed drive to help the Skrulls find safe haven. Mar-Vell renounced Yon-Rogg's extremist views, which resulted in her death by his hand in a confrontation the led to Carol gaining her superpowers, and losing her memories, six years earler.

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Once she learns the truth, Carol breaks through the mental blocks put in place by the Supreme Intelligence, composed of the collective knowledge of the Kree's greatest minds, and finally becomes unfettered as Captain Marvel. She takes out the Kree armada approaching Earth, including Ronan's legion of Accusers, and then beats down Yon-Rogg in one-on-one battle. But rather than kill him, she shows mercy, reprograms his ship and sends him back to the Kree home world, Hala, with a message that she's coming to end their tyrannical ways. However, that means the Kree are even more of a lingering threat to the MCU than we first thought.

We knew they were conducting experiments across the galaxy, as seen on the Inhumans television series, but now we have greater insight into the possibility that other scientists like Mar-Vell made weapons of mass destruction we're yet to see. With Yon-Rogg absent in Guardians of the Galaxy, but Ronan and Korath (Djimon Honsou) working for Thanos, it remains unclear whether Carol returned to Hala to make good on her threat. The Kree signed a treaty with the Nova Corps on Xandar in that 2012 film, but following Thanos' snap, the Kree may feel vindicated in their bloodthirsty ways.

CAPTAIN MARVEL SAVES, AND THEN DOOMS, THE GALAXY

In Captain Marvel's finale, Carol becomes an inspirational figure as she decides to usher the Skrulls to a new home using Mar-Vell's lab as a retrofitted transport vessel. That's why we haven't seen Captain Marvel in the MCU previously. But, as expected, she leaves a beacon by modifying Nick Fury's pager, introduced in the post-credits scene of Avengers: Infinity War, and leaves it with him in the event she's needed.

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She's left a lasting impression of Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), names the Avenger Initiative after Carol's U.S. Air Force call sign, "Avenger." She also leaves the Tesseract behind in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s care, which is why it's in the P.E.G.A.S.US. facility in 2012's The Avengers. But as much as Fury promises to keep it safe, we know otherwise: Ronan warned that Carol would bring unwanted eyes to Earth, and that's exactly what happens. Leaving the Space Stone on Earth is what attracted the attention of Thanos, who eventually collected all six of the Infinity Stones and wiped out half of all life in the universe. So while Carol saves the planet, she unwittingly places the entire cosmos in danger.

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a script they wrote with Liz Flahive, Carly Mensch, Meg LeFauve, Nicole Perlman and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jude Law as the commander of Starforce, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer, Gemma Chan as Minn-Erva, Ben Mendelsohn as Talos, Lashana Lynch as Maria Rambeau, Algenis Perez Soto as Att-Lass, McKenna Grace as a young Carol Danvers and Annette Bening as Mar-Vell/the Supreme Intelligence.

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