Higher, further, faster, more cameos.
Full spoilers follow for Captain Marvel.
Every MCU movie features numerous references pulled from Marvel’s comic book universe, and Captain Marvel is no exception. This new superhero epic is packed to the brim with cameos, references and Easter eggs for eagle-eyed Marvel fans to find.
From Carol’s mohawk to call-outs to heroes like Protector and Spectrum and right on down to Avengers: Endgame tie-ins, here are all the Easter eggs, references and cameos we found in Captain Marvel.
Captain Marvel features numerous connections that help tie the movie to the larger MCU and answer some long-running questions about the universe. It’s the latest Marvel movie to use the Tesseract as a plot device, while also explaining how the artifact came into Nick Fury’s possession. It also reveals the back-story behind Fury’s pager and the origin of the Avengers Initiative while also featuring a few familiar MCU faces like Agent Coulson, Ronan the Accuser and Korath.
Perhaps the biggest change the film made to the source material involves Carol’s mentor, Mar-Vell. In the comics, Mar-Vell was the original Captain Marvel and used the human cover identity of Dr. Walter Lawson. In the movie, Mar-Vell is gender-swapped to become Dr. Wendy Lawson and never becomes a superhero, leaving Carol free to claim the Captain Marvel mantle from the very start.
Carol’s costume is very closely inspired by the contemporary Marvel comics, right down to her distinctive helmet and mohawk. That flourish was introduced by artist Jamie McKelvie for the 2012 Captain Marvel comic. It pays homage to the mohawk-like fin seen on the helmets of many Kree soldiers.
Carol’s Binary Form
The climax of the film sees Carol finally unleash her full superhuman potential, causing her body to erupt in waves of fiery energy. In the comics, Carol occasionally transforms into Binary, a more powerful version of her usual self that only manifests when she absorbs enough energy — and that seems quite similar to the version we see at the end of the film.
The film also draws from elements of the Ultimate Universe version of Captain Marvel, particularly when it comes to the advanced faster-than-light ship the ASIS. In the Ultimate Universe, that ship was the brainchild of Dr. Philip Lawson (the Ultimate version of Mar-Vell), and Carol was picked as his head of security.
Stan Lee has made cameo appearances in every MCU movie to date, and so far his sad passing last year hasn’t stopped that trend. Plus, Lee’s cameo in Captain Marvel has an extra layer of meta-weirdness to it; he can be seen on the train reading a script for Mallrats, the 1995 Kevin Smith comedy that jump-started the whole “Stan Lee cameo” fad. And he also gets a Stan-only MCU opening logo, featuring various shots of the Marvel creator where usually we’d have images of the various Marvel heroes.
Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Cameo
The train sequence also features another Marvel creator closely associated with Carol Danvers. After Carol exits the train, she walks by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (easy to spot thanks to her distinctive glasses and red hair). DeConnick was the first writer to chronicle Carol’s evolution from Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel, and her work naturally had a major influence on the film.
The Time Period
The film includes a number of ’90s pop culture references that help narrow down the exact time period to 1995. For example, when Carol is using the payphone, the wall behind her features posters for the Smashing Pumpkins album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, which was recorded between March and August of 1995 and released in October. The Blockbuster Video store includes a VHS tape copy of True Lies, which was released theatrically in July 1994 and likely wouldn’t have been available at Blockbuster until the following year. We also learn that Carol disappeared in 1989, and that was six years before the film’s main story.
Nick Fury’s Children
In the movie, Fury indicates he has no children (though the way he words it is a little suspect). In the comics, however, Fury has multiple children. One of them, Mikel, followed his father into the spy business. Another, Marcus Johnson, only recently discovered his father’s true identity and changed his name to Nick Fury, Jr. This son served as a way for Marvel to retire the original, white Nick Fury and replace him with one modeled more specifically after Fury’s appearance in the MCU.
Nick Fury: Secret Agent
Fury also loosely alludes to his misadventures as a spy during the Cold War. This is a nod to the character’s colorful history in the comics. Originally, Fury was depicted as a WWII-era soldier in the comic Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. In the 1960s he was re-imagined as a James Bond-esque super-spy before finally becoming the grizzled director of SHIELD we know and love today.
The movie finally reveals exactly how Fury injured his eye in the MCU, with the truth being somewhat less glamorous than we would have expected from SHIELD’s head honcho. In the comics, there are different explanations for Fury’s injury depending on the universe in question. In the classic Marvel Universe, Fury was wounded by shrapnel from a German grenade. In the Ultimate Universe, he was caught in an explosion when a military convoy transporting a certain Weapon X test subject was blown up.
When Monica helps Carol choose a new color scheme for her costume, some of the discarded choices pay homage to classic Captain Marvel outfits. The red and black scheme is an homage to Carol’s original Ms. Marvel costume, while the white and green scheme pays tribute to Mar-Vell’s first costume.
In the film we learn Fury’s original name for the Avengers Initiative was “The Protector Initiative,” until getting a flash of inspiration after learning Carol’s Air Force call-sign. The Protector Initiative could be a nod to Kree hero Noh-Varr. Though he originally called himself Marvel Boy, eventually Noh-Varr took up the mantle of Protector after joining the Avengers.
While the movie certainly draws from the source material in terms of Carol’s background as an Air Force pilot, she had a very different call-sign in the comics. There, she was dubbed Carol “Cheeseburger” Danvers, after an embarrassing incident when she vomited up her lunch in a training simulator.
Carol battles a nasty case of amnesia in the movie, which is something her comic counterpart is all too familiar with. Most notably, Carol lost her memories and her powers after a battle with the energy-draining mutant Rogue. Even after Rogue’s turn to good and life as an X-Man, the relationship between these two heroes has always been strained.
Goose the Flerken
One of the big twists in the film involves the reveal that Goose the cat is actually an alien called a Flerken. Goose is based on Chewie, Carol’s pet cat who is also revealed to be an alien impostor in the comics. There it’s Rocket Raccoon who spots the alien hiding in their midst.
The Supreme Intelligence
At several points in the film, Carol is tormented by the Kree leader known as the Supreme Intelligence, which takes the form of Dr. Wendy Lawson in her mind. In the comics, the Supreme Intelligence usually appears in its true form, a giant, tentacled head housing one of the smartest brains in the entire universe.
The film sets the stage for another Marvel hero to make her debut in a future MCU movie. While Monica Rambeau is just a child in this movie, assuming the MCU follows the comics she’ll eventually become a superhero in her own right. In the comics, Monica actually inherited the Captain Marvel mantle before Carol, and she’s gone by other names like Photon and Spectrum. (Photon, of course, was Monica’s mom Maria’s call-sign in the movie.)
Carol playfully refers to Monica as “Lieutenant Trouble.” In the comics, Carol and Monica are much closer in age, and this nickname is reserved instead for a young girl named Kit Renner, who idolizes Carol.
The planet Torfa serves as an early battleground in the movie, but it plays a much larger role in the comics. Torfa is depicted as a home for refugee Skrulls, at least until those Skrulls begin falling victim to a mysterious illness. It’s eventually discovered that they’re being poisoned by pollution from vibranium mining.
For more on Captain Marvel, check out our review, dig into why the gender-swapping of Mar-Vell is so important, trace the confusing timeline of the Tesseract, watch the cast pick which Avenger Captain Marvel could beat in a fight, and learn all you need to know about Captain Marvel’s cat Goose.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.