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The Protector Initiative

Is this thing on? What’s up party people, it’s been a hot minute! All it took to get me out of my writing slumber was a kick in the pants by Captain Marvel. That movie got me inspired, so sit back, throw on some Nirvana, and lets talk about s- wait, that was 1990. Don’t Speak. Just read.


As I sit here trying to figure out how to talk about this wonderful movie, I realize that it really isn’t my place to talk about representation and what it means and what this movie is really about to certain people. There are countless other articles about Captain Marvel that do so much more than I ever could explaining the social or political impacts of a movie like this on society. The diversity in the theater was refreshing, and I’m happy to think that my kids are going to grow up in a world with more movies like this. Movies like this matter and the world is a better place with them in it.


Also, I’m not a movie critic. I’m just a dude, doing his best to be a lawyer, who also nerds out every once in a while most of the time. Growing up, comics were my jam. I grew up reading my dad’s old issues from the 60's and 70's, and got into my own collecting in the 1990's. That’s right, kids, I remember the 90's and all its awkward glory. Now, it’s 25 years later (my God...) and all of those characters I followed are making it big on the big screen, and I just know 10 year old me is jealous as all hell.

One of the things I liked best about Captain Marvel was the feel of it. Sure, it’s a 2019 blockbuster (pun intended!) set in 1995, and acting as a prequel to some of the biggest blockbusters (again!) out there. But it felt like a 90's movie. Interviews with the writing and directing team in the weeks before it opened revealed some classic 90's inspiration, and it showed. After watching the movie, it had clear Independence Day / Men in Black / Terminator / Top Gun vibes, and I was diggin’ it.

But I digress. I’m not here to review the movie (the action was superb! The exposition exquisite!) I’m here to talk about the movie. This was a Marvel joint, and what a joint it was.

Stan Lee. My God, the way they dealt with Stan Lee and his cameo and passing was beautiful. We all know about the grand opening with his cameos instead of clips of the heroes throughout the movies. I noticed it was a bit longer, which was well deserved.


My favorite part, though, was his quick cameo on the train, where he was reading his script for Mallrats. I was thinking about it after the movie, but the part where Carol is looking for the Skrull infiltrator, stops and sees Stan, who looks up and smiles, prompting a nod by Carol in return. If I am not mistaken, besides Tony Stark running into him in Iron Man and talking to Tony Stank in Civil War, I believe this was one of the most direct interactions between Stan and the heroes we have seen to date. Usually he is operating in the background, living his best life.

There was something that stuck out to me, though. That nod from Carol to Stan. To me, it felt like the nod was to us and from us at the same time. Carol was nodding to the audience, acknowledging that Stan deserves the recognition. It was an inside joke that all MCU fans gets and look forward to in these movies. It was a recognition that these cameos cannot and will not last forever, so we should enjoy them while we can.


At the same time, that nod was from all of us to Stan himself. That was a respectful thank you to the man who made all of this possible. Without his imagination and commentary and problems and triumphs and stories, the MCU would not be. Carol’s nod to the Legend was on behalf of all of us as a grateful audience, just glad to be part of this wild ride. No words are required because we all know what is meant. Thanks Stan.

S.H.I.E.L.D. At this point, if you follow the MCU and Agents of SHIELD, you recognize the organization as one large, monolithic entity with its hands in everything. SHIELD goes back to the SSR in World War II, and evolved into a technological marvel, thanks to the likes of Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, and Hank Pym. SHIELD is larger than life. Just look at the Triskelion. Shit’s cray.


Captain Marvel gave us a look into the life of an average SHIELD operative, a lowly Level 3 desk jockey and his hopeful, super green field agent, trying to make a difference in a seemingly boring world. At this point in time, the Cold War is over. Nicholas Fury is trying to figure out what the next big threat to deal with is, and is striking out. He works out of a nondescript office with a badge that gets him detained more often than in the room. Mr. Fury is a former soldier and spy, trying to make a difference.

Agent Coulson is fresh out of high school and working under Fury, his training officer. Coulson wants to make a difference, but is new to the world of espionage and spying and intelligence gathering. Coulson doesn’t know what to think or who to trust, but has his gut to lead him.


It’s the 90's. Nothing is going on (until Buzz Lightyear Captain Marvel crashes into the scene.) This is a previously unexplored time in SHIELD’s history, and it was cool to see. SHIELD is still a secret organization, with only a few people knowing it exists. Other than officially branded hats, agents don’t drive around it large vehicles screaming SHIELD at anyone who happens to look.  

When you think of SHIELD, you think of a few names: Peggy Carter. Howard Stark. Nick Fury. Maria Hill. Phil Coulson. This movie gave us a fresh look at the beginning of Fury and Coulson’s relationship, and gives context to these characters and the trust they have for each other. It all started with Coulson made the tough call by letting Fury and Carol escape the stairwell, not knowing who to trust. Anyone could be an alien infiltrator, and Fury had just been duped into leaving poor Coulson at a busted out Blockbuster. Coulson trusted his gut, and from that moment, a special bond was formed between he and Fury, a bond that is evident throughout the MCU.


When Coulson “died” in Avengers, Fury noted that he lost his “one good eye.” In Agents of SHIELD, we learned that Coulson was Fury’s number two guy, and placed in charge of the TAHITI project. Fury’s secrets had secrets, and when SHIELD fell after The Winter Soldier, the one person he trusted them with was Coulson.

Kree. The twist in Captain Marvel was that the Kree were actually the bad guys, and the Skrulls were simply refugees looking for a way out. If you’ve paid attention to the MCU so far, this might have been somewhat obvious. The first time we really see the Kree is Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. There, the Kree and Xandarians just ended a lengthy war, with an uneasy peace treaty / cease fire. However, the Kree are indifferent to the workings of a religious fanatic, Ronan the Accuser (More on this gent in a minute.) The Kree are made out to be crass aggressors.


Then, in Agents of SHIELD, the team has to hunt a Kree operative looking for evidence of Inhuman activity. The team completes the mission, with the knowledge that if the Kree found out about Inhumans, they would return to Earth. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 revealed that Yondu is a Centaurian that was captured and forced to fight as a Kree War Slave. Then, in Agents of SHIELD season five, the Kree return to Earth (as feared back in season 2, albeit in the future) and subjugates the surviving Earth population, harvesting Inhumans for sport and notoriety.  

To date, the Kree have been depicted negatively in the MCU. When Captain Marvel started questioning the Supreme Intelligence, propaganda, endless war, etc., I had a feeling the drop was coming. And come it did. Wait.


Inhumans. There were no Inhumans in Captain Marvel. However, with the heavy focus on the Kree, a little history may be in order. Inhumans are a product of the Kree. In the MCU, the Celestials tinkered with human DNA for the fuck of it. They’re Celestials, they do what they do. Sometime later, the Kree found Earth and in studying Humans, discovered that human DNA had been tinkered with by the Celestials. This perked their interest, and the Kree tinkered some more, creating the Inhumans.

The original purpose of the Inhumans was to create living weapons to fight for the Kree. This is in line with their history of enslaving other races to fight as War Slaves, like Yondu. However, the Inhuman project was an inexact science, and the Kree could not control what powers were manifested. This led to the creation of Hive, one of the most powerful Inhumans. Hive was so powerful, that the Kree and ancient humans worked together to banish Hive to another planet, Tatooine Maveth. The creation of Hive caused the Kree to abandon the Inhuman project and destroy its efforts on the planet, wiping the project under the rug. Followers of Hive went on to form HYDRA, which evolved into the HYDRA of The Winter Soldier, among other branches.


In the future, after Skye Quake Daisy broke the Earth, the Kree returned and began harvesting Inhumans from the remaining human population. As they do.

Supreme Intelligence. This is what I love about the MCU. In 2008, we had a somewhat “down to Earth” movie about a guy building a suit of armor in a cave with a box of scraps. Since then, we have seen not only Celestials, but Thanos, Ego the living fucking planet, and now the Kree Supreme Intelligence. The weird is flowing and I am here for it.


TAHITI. Captain Marvel had some interesting implications for Agent Coulson and project TAHITI. In Agents of SHIELD, it was revealed that Fury placed his most trusted agent in charge of the TAHITI project, which was designed to revive a mortally injured Avenger. That project was eventually used on Coulson after his pokening in Avengers. But where did the idea of using Kree blood to revive someone come from?

In the movie, we don’t explicitly see Carol tell Fury this information, but it is revealed that after Carol’s accident, Yon-Rogg’s blood was used to keep her alive until the Supreme Intelligence could manipulate Carol into thinking she was a Starforce warrior. Carol had her memories wiped along with the process.


Sound familiar?

It is possible that Fury took what he learned about Carol and the manipulation she underwent, and when he rose through the ranks and learned of the Kree recovered by Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos in World War II, put the pieces together.


The Protector Initiative. The reason I think that Carol was the inspiration for Project TAHITI is because she was also the inspiration for the Avengers themselves. After Fury found the next big threat, he realized that he needed to find more people like Carol that could help protect the Earth from threats. Like Ronan said, Earth didn’t have the capacity to defend itself from their technology at the time.

This was the beginning of the Fury we all know and love. Everything is compartmentalized. Now we know why no one person (besides him) knew all the secrets. Fury saw how easily the organization could be compromised.


This was also the beginning of Phase 2. Thanks to Goose eating the Tesseract, and thanks to Fury seeing what the Tesseract could do (creating Carol), and after what Red Skull did on his own, its implications in weapons design were apparent. Carol really was the start of it all.

Ronan the Accuser. One of my favorite parts of Captain Marvel, aside from Carol punching the Supreme Intelligence in the face and the Supreme Intelligence using said face to grab her arm and throw her, by the face, was the depiction of the Accusers as an elite anti-terrorist unit. The ship Ronan used in Captain Marvel was much smaller than the Dark Aster from Guardians of the Galaxy, but the design was very similar. In the 10 years between Captain Marvel and Guardians, Ronan traded up for sure.


But I digress, again. The Accusers were used to carpet bomb strategic targets so that the Starforce could go in and finish the mission. Ronan didn’t have too much to do in this movie, but he was already on the path to the religious zealot we see in Guardians. Ronan’s superiority complex was apparent and in full swing.

Ronan and Korath, who was a Starforce member in Captain Marvel, are the likely sources of information for Thanos that the Tesseract was on Earth. Ronan was just there to bomb some shit, but Korath knew about Captain Marvel and her connection to the Tesseract. In those 10 years, Korath and Ronan began working together, and began working for Thanos. It is likely that Korath told Ronan about the Tesseract, who told Thanos, who knew its true nature.


Consistency. One of my favorite aspects of the MCU is the consistency of it all. In Guardians Vol. 2, we get a glimpse of faster than light travel in the MCU: Jump Points that are found in specific locations, and opened like a hexagonal grid, allowing for instantaneous travel between two fixed points. In a sense, these are worm holes. The exact same technology is shown in use by the Starforce and the Accusers in Captain Marvel, suggesting that this is a universal standard.

Mar-Vell was on Earth researching faster-than-light speed travel that wouldn’t need to use those pre-fixed jump points. As we learned in Ragnarok, it would take months to get from Sakar to Asgard using the jump points. Instead, they were able to travel directly through the Devil’s Anus. This, along with the existence of the Bifrost, suggests that other means of instantaneous travel exist in the MCU.


Mar-Vell was using the Tesseract to study alternate methods of travel. It is assumed that travel through those jump points is traceable. The Skrulls only wanted out of Kree space, and a light speed engine would allow them to escape undetected. If the jump point system was not traceable, they would have done it decades ago.

Project Pegasus. When Carol and Fury arrived at the secret USAF/NASA facility, his SHIELD identification got him in, but not much farther. They entered the base through a long, underground tunnel, which opened up into a large, underground hanger.


Did you recognize anything? That was the same tunnel that Agent Hill pursued mind-controlled Hawkeye and Loki out of in Avengers. It only took 8 years, but SHIELD did a good job of renovating that base. HGTV would be proud.

Goose. MOTHER FLERKIN GOOSE I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY ACTUALLY DID IT. Earlier I mentioned that the MCU had no problem bringing the weird with Celestials, Ego, and the Supreme Intelligence. This proves it. They introduced a mother fucking FLERKIN in all its glory and it was glorious. Goose was a good kitty, eating the Tesseract and Kree and whatnot.


I hope we get to see more of Goose in the future.

And with that, I bid you adieu. Until Engame, that probably is.

TL;DR: This is io9. We do the reading. GET TO IT.

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