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Captain Marvel’s 2 end-credits scenes, explained

Captain Marvel has two end-credits scenes; one of them directly ties into April’s Avengers: Endgame.

Brie Larson in Captain Marvel
Brie Larson in Captain Marvel.
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Captain Marvel has two end credits scenes: a mid-credits scene that directly ties in to next month’s Avengers: Endgame, and a post-credits scene that’s a little less gasp-worthy and a little more joking, but still connects to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

In addition to the end credits scenes, the movie contains a cameo by the late Stan Lee, and a special bumper — the animated Marvel logo introduction that appears before every Marvel Studios movie — in honor of the legendary Marvel creator. Usually it’s Marvel’s heroes who appear as part of the bumper, but in the one preceding Captain Marvel, Lee replaces each one. Meanwhile, Lee’s cameo in the movie is a reference to his cameo (as himself) in Mallrats. Lee died in 2018, and it’s unclear how many cameos he filmed for then-unreleased films before his death, but his last reported cameos are in April’s Avengers: Endgame and July’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Over the past several years, mid- and post-credits scenes (in addition to Stan Lee cameos) have become a Marvel tradition, something that fans look forward to every time the studio puts out a new release. In fact, the arrival of Carol Danvers to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was teased in a post-credits scene: Nearly a year before Captain Marvel’s release, in Avengers: Infinity War’s post-credits scene, Nick Fury sends a message to Carol Danvers, a.k.a Captain Marvel, on his two-way pager (which Carol is seen upgrading in the Captain Marvel movie).

In recent years, Marvel has increasingly wrapped its movies with two bonus scenes, a mid-credits one and a post-credits one. And Captain Marvel follows that tradition. Here’s what happens in each of the movie’s credits scenes and how they might connect to future Marvel films.

Spoilers for Captain Marvel follow.

1) Captain Marvel answers the call from the remaining Avengers and meets them!

In Captain Marvel’s mid-credits scene, we get a close-up of Nick Fury’s two-way pager (the one he messaged Captain Marvel with in Avengers: Infinity War’s post-credits scene) and learn that the remaining Avengers and Captain America — Natasha Romanov, a.k.a. Black Widow; Bruce Banner, a.k.a. the Hulk; and Rhodey a.k.a. War Machine — have bypassed its battery to keep its distress signal going.

They don’t know what the device is, nor do they know who it’s trying to reach.

It’s also unclear how they obtained the device. If you recall the end of Infinity War, this group of Avengers was in Wakanda when Thanos snapped his fingers and eliminated half of all life in the universe — they were the ones who survived while Spider-Man, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and Vision turned to dust. Then in Infinity War’s post-credits scene, we saw Fury and Maria Hill driving in what appeared to be New York City before they too were turned to dust. Fury used the device shortly before he was vaporized.

So Captain Marvel’s mid-credits scene suggests that Black Widow, the Hulk, and Rhodey have since traveled from Wakanda to New York City, learned that Fury was dusted, located his device, and messed with it to keep its battery life going.

We see the device shut off, eliciting mild panic from the Avengers. Then Black Widow says they need to get it back online, because whoever is on the other end could be the key to defeating Thanos. Of course, the audience knows that it’s Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel.

And that’s when the camera pans around to Carol herself, who appears out of nowhere asking for Fury.

It’s very much a take-your-breath-away moment, not only because Carol appears suddenly but also because, for a brief second, you get to see the shocked response of all the other Avengers when she arrives (the scene fades to black shortly after). They don’t know who she is. They don’t know how she knows Fury. And vice versa.

But she’s someone they’ll need to work with if they want to defeat Thanos.

2) Goose the cat coughs up the Tesseract

Captain Marvel’s post-credits scene is a gag. We see Goose — Carol’s cat who is really an alien species called a Flerken — sitting on Fury’s desk. It’s the same desk that Fury sits at in Captain Marvel, but everything in the room, from the furniture around it to the computer on top of it to the desk itself, has been updated to connote the passage of time.

From there, we see Goose cough up a hairball for about eight seconds. But since Goose is Flerken and not feline, it’s not your typical hairball — it’s the Tesseract, which Goose “ate” in the final act of Captain Marvel to keep it safe.

The scene isn’t consequential to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it does fill in some blanks. You might remember that the Tesseract made its first real MCU appearance in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. It was later obtained by Tony Stark’s father, Howard Stark (after the events of The First Avenger), and was ostensibly given to or acquired by the organization led by Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D., and some undefined point after that (Fury has the Tesseract in Thor’s post-credits scene).

That was all before Captain Marvel.

In Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell (Annette Bening’s character) is shown to possess the Tesseract until 1995, when Captain Marvel and her friends find Mar-Vell’s lab and take home the Tesseract.

It’s not super clear how the Tesseract got from Howard Stark to Mar-Vell, but it seems likely that it was obtained by Mar-Vell during her time at Project Pegasus, a joint NASA-USAF organization shown in the ’90s-set Captain Marvel that goes on to become the organization that studies the Tesseract in 2012’s The Avengers. And this post-credits scene suggests that it had a few “adventures” — like being swallowed and coughed up by Goose — before Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. ultimately reobtained it.

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