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Avengers: Infinity War didn’t exactly leave its heroes in a good place. Thanks to the Infinity Gauntlet and a certain tank-top-wearing purple villain, half the universe’s population has dissolved into dust, with the other half left to sweep up the mess.

It’s a devastating moment that caps 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there’s still one tiny spark of hope: In Infinity War’s post-credits scene, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury manages to send a message on an ancient-looking pager, before he too fades into nothingness. Audiences never see the message’s recipient, but the symbol that flashes on screen leaves no doubt as to who it was intended for: Captain Marvel.

Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers will be making her debut in the ’90s-set Captain Marvel (in theaters March 8), but after that, she’s poised to lend a hand in the as-yet-untitled Avengers 4. And it looks like the MCU’s other heroes are going to need all the help they can get.

“She is more powerful than any character we’ve introduced thus far,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige tells EW. “So that alone tells you that there’s a reason Nick hit that button at the end [of Infinity War], when he realized that they were up against something far bigger than they had ever been up against before. And having her on your side is hopefully going to change the balance of power in a way that they desperately need.”

Marvel Studios' CAPTAIN MARVELCarol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson)
Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/© Marvel Studios 2019

So how did Carol and Nick meet? Captain Marvel answers that question, chronicling the pair’s first encounter in the mid-1990s. At this point, Nick is just a lowly desk jockey with S.H.I.E.L.D., who’s never had any experience with extraterrestrial threats. (He’s still got both his eyes too.) Meeting the part-Kree, part-human Carol is his first exposure to the idea that there are people out there with extraordinary powers — and they can be an asset.

“This is a mind-changing, attitude-changing moment for him that leads him to become the person that we know,” Jackson says. “He [now] understands that there are these other things out there. He understands that they’re not all enemies, and we do need to find allies who have specific kinds of skills that humans don’t have. And trying to convince people above him is a difficult task because they haven’t seen it or experienced it.”

Captain Marvel is very much Carol’s standalone story, but it also sets her up to take a key place in the MCU. As the first decade of MCU movies comes to a close, a number of established heroes like Chris Evans’ Captain America are expected to depart the franchise, leaving heroes like Captain Marvel or Black Panther to take over the spotlight.

And if the end of Infinity War is any indication, Carol is ready to answer the call.

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