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Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War are ahead!
Post-credits scenes were a thing long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe launched, but the superhero movie franchise arguably popularized them by using these clips to tease future installments. This has since expanded to many of the MCU entries featuring a mid-credits scene in addition to the post-credits one, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 featured five extra scenes as its credits played. Avengers: Infinity War, however, took it back to the old days by only tacking on one scene after the credits finished, but man, it was a doozy! Those final seconds teased the arrival of Captain Marvel, only we didn't actually see Carol Danvers. In that regard, Infinity War borrowed from Iron Man 2, as Tony Stark's sequel adventure teased Thor in its final seconds without actually showing the God of Thunder.
In case you haven't re-watched 2010's Iron Man 2 recently and need a refresher, while expressing his annoyance to Tony Stark at Randy's Donuts, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury mentioned that he had "bigger problems in the Southwest region to deal with." Later on, Agent Phil Coulson told Tony that he'd been reassigned to New Mexico, and if you stopped watching the movie once the credits started rolling, then these references would have just been random tidbits of information. Fortunately, said references paid off in the post-credits scene, when we saw Coulson arrive to the area of the New Mexico desert where Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, had landed. A year later, we would be officially introduced to Thor in the God of Thunder's movie, where it was revealed that the reason Mjolnir was stuck in New Mexico was because Odin had stripped Thor of his powers and exiled both his son and the hammer to Earth.
Fast-forward to now, Avengers: Infinity War took a similar approach with Captain Marvel, only this time it was Nick Fury through whom the soon-to-be-seen superhero was foreshadowed rather than Coulson (who, in the present day, is still hanging out over on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Fury and his colleague Maria Hill weren't with the MCU heroes when they were tangling with Thanos, but they were around to see people start disintegrating after the Mad Titan obtained all six Infinity Stones and carried out his vision for a balanced universe. After Hill disappeared, Fury quickly went to his car and activated a pager-looking device before he too disappeared. The camera zoomed in on the device and we learned that it was transmitting a distress signal. While the recipient of this signal wasn't directly identified, the device did display yellow star symbol on a red-and-blue background. Marvel fans quickly recognized this as Captain Marvel's insignia, which sets up her origin story for next year.
To be clear, Avengers: Infinity War wasn't the first Marvel movie since Iron Man 2 to set up superheroes after the main story concluded. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier's mid-credits scene, we were introduced to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, who were seen using their abilities at a Hydra facility. However, Iron Man 2 and Infinity War are the only MCU movies so far to lay the groundwork for a future superhero without actually showing that character. Of course, moviegoers who aren't familiar with Marvel comics presumably were confused by the meaning of these post-credits scenes, but a quick search on the internet can rectify that. Plus, if your Infinity War screening was anything like mine, you might have heard a couple of fans quietly exclaim, "Captain Marvel!" (I was one of those people.) In any case, while Iron Man 2 isn't one of the most beloved entries in this franchise, its post-credits was one of the more intriguing ones, so Infinity War did a solid job with putting its own spin on that approach.
It is worth noting, though, that one key difference between how Iron Man 2 set up Thor and Avengers: Infinity War set up Captain Marvel is sequence of events. The events of the Thor movie overlapped with Iron Man 2, whereas the Captain Marvel movie will be set in the 1990s, around 10-15 years before the modern MCU kicked off with Iron Man. It's been confirmed that Carol Danvers will appear in Avengers 4, but before that, we'll see how she obtained her special abilities and learn why she hasn't been around for the superhero boom of the last decade. Captain Marvel will also feature Nick Fury back when he had two eyes, and given how he told Steve Rogers in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that he lost an eye the last time he trusted someone, I suspect we'll finally learn exactly how he became partially blinded in this movie. Who else is betting on a disguised Skrull being responsible?
We'll meet Brie Larson's Carol Danvers when Captain Marvel is released on March 8, 2019, and Carol will be back just two months later to team up with Thor and the rest of the surviving MCU heroes in Avengers 4. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates concerning the entire MCU, and check out our 2018 release schedule to learn what other movies are coming out this year.