Playing hardball for all the marbles, Marvel’s The Marvels, even as a garbled, larval Warhol mardoll, shlarbal flarvoll. That one got away from me. Let’s start over.
Marvel’s The Marvels is a big swing from the rapidly-deflating novelty blow-up baseball bat that is the MCU. It’s a team-up between a much-beloved-but-immensely-altered character who starred in a show that not enough people watched, a separate altered take on an even more obscure character last seen as an “also starring” in WandaVision, and Captain Marvel, around whom the grouchy and unhugged denizens of the internet love to do angry, repetitive troll donuts ad infinitum.
One of the biggest draws that the film has on its side: The promise that we’ll finally get some of Carol Danvers’ backstory filled in, nearly five years after her introductory solo movie. Danvers, as fans already know, has a bad case of the leaky diaper brains thanks to her former Kree handlers, and there’s a good long chunk of her life that she’s not yet privy to. Pulled from the comics, the movies, and our own frustrations, here are a few spitball ideas as to what Carol might remember about herself during the events of the movie.
1: That her powers weren’t just from the Space Stone
The science of superpowers is more art than science, and more made-up-nonsense-moonman-speak than art. One character might get bitten by a radioactive spider and gain the ability to stick to ceilings. His neighbor might get bitten by that same spider and develop melanoma.
So it’s not exceptionally weird that different MCU characters with origins tied to different Infinity Stones would develop their powers in different ways. It does, however, seem a little bit bananas that Carol Danvers’ Space Stone powers are so planet-shatteringly extreme, while the Mind Stone gave Quicksilver the ability to run pretty fast and Vision the power to have all the best monologues in the franchise and get his forehead pulled apart like sourdough bread.
Maybe – and this is just speculation – Danvers has repressed the body horror nightmare memories associated one of her many comic book origin stories: That she was tortured and ripped apart at a genetic level by a species of sadistic bug monsters called the Brood. It’s a nasty corner of Marvel history from the days back when Chris Claremont was pouring buckets of aliens on every story, and it could make for a nice entry point for one of the X-Men’s most constant villains. Even better, it would make for a compelling new detail that the Kree kept from Danvers.
2: That she shot a dog one time
If The Marvels is going to go into Carol Danvers’ forgotten history, there’s no better place to start than that time when she blacked out and shot a dog.
Yes, in the comics, Danvers is Marvel’s second most prolific alcoholic, beaten out only by Tony Stark and his recurring decision to shotgun handles of bourbon and then fly his tank suit into the Middle East. While he can be, and has been, forgiven for his tipsy little war crimes, it seems entirely unlikely that anyone could ever excuse what Captain Marvel (going by Warbird at the time) did in the pages of Quicksilver #10: She got the kind of drunk that kids in Disney cartoons used to get in the ‘50s, giggled a bunch, and shot the Inhumans’ dog.
Now, is this an organic fit for an MCU story designed to empower and inspire? Who’s to say? Hooch got shot in Turner and Hooch, and that’s a classic of its genre, plus Agatha killed the dog in WandaVision and now we’re giving her her own show. One scene where Carol Danvers gets her memories back and recalls, wide-eyed, the time when she was staying with Anson Mount on the moon and accidentally drunksploded his giant English bulldog? That’s just good cinema.
3: That she paid for that jukebox
This one’s more for the audience than for the characters, but it sure would be nice to see a scene in The Marvels where Carol goes back to Earth and pays the owner of that bar for the vintage jukebox she blew up to make a cheeky point. This goes for all superheroes, to be clear. Thor should visit that diner in New Mexico and do dishes until he’s paid off the coffee mug that he smashed, and we can only assume that the estate of Tony Stark got around to replacing the nagahide in that doughnut shop where he plopped down in a booth wearing half a ton of titanium armor.
4: That she actually saw Nick Fury lose his eye doing something cool like getting in a ninja star fight, but that memory got erased with a Men In Black-style gizmo because the truth was deemed too awesome, also said gizmo has been slowly making him dumber over the course of 30 years which explains Secret Invasion
Okay, yes, I know, but this would fix so many problems in one go.
Imagine it: Carol is hooked up to the memory machine, which, per MCU scriptwriting guidelines, has a long nerdy science fiction name that the heroes hear and go “that’s too long. I’m calling it the memory machine.” So she’s hooked up to the memory machine, with its ability to withdraw and store memories, and she’s flashing through all of the backstory that’s been removed from her mind, either by the Kree or by her own designs. This thing is lousy with memories, and Carol is watching them buzz past her skull on patented MCU CGI hologram screens, the ones that look like Mass Effect hard-light projections and that every advanced race in the galaxy seems to have come up with at around the same time.
One memory shows a young Nick Fury, de-aged back to around the same time period as the first Captain Marvel. He’s still got both eyes, but he loses one in a desperate fight with, I don’t know, one of those battery-eating tentacle monsters from Guardians of the Galaxy. Yeah, one of those is attacking the Hoover Dam, and Nick Fury is the only thing standing in its way. The fight is insane. Like, you should be getting chills just thinking about it.
At the end, Fury beats the monster, but he loses an eye in the process. Captain Marvel arrives and says something like “Nick, I saw what happened on the security network, I came as fast as I could. That was awesome.” Nick is all, “Maybe a little too awesome. The world can never know how cool that was. I need you to use that memory machine you told me about and wipe this from my head, and also tell everyone that a cat took my eye moving forward.” Carol’s like, “But the memory machine is too strong for regular humans. It’ll hurt your head and start making you stupid. It could really make you seem like you’ve got ham for brains in 25, maybe 30 years.” “So be it,” Nick responds, and all of a sudden we have not just a perfect retcon of the scene where the world’s greatest counterintelligence operative holds a vicious alien an inch from his face and gets disfigured, but also an explanation for why he acted like such a putz during his Disney Plus miniseries.