One of the more interesting things about Captain Marvel is its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the MCU has told a mostly chronological story since the debut of Iron Man, the next film in the franchise will drop back in time a couple of decades to the 1990s. It turns out, there actually a lot of different reasons why this decision makes sense. First and foremost, it takes the MCU back to a point when it's not full of heroes, which will give Brie Larson's Captain Marvel the space to shine on her own. According to producer Jonathan Schwartz...
It's giving Carol a place in the cinematic universe that she can carve out for her own, where she wasn't one superheroine out of many.
The Marvel Universe has expanded quite a bit on film in 10 years, and there're now more heroes and villains than we know what to do with. There's more than one reason to not make Captain Marvel just another face in the crowd as Jonathan Schwartz tells Entertainment Weekly Marvel wanted to do. Being the first female hero to headline her own Marvel movie, it's nice to be able to give her some space to see what she can do. In addition, the story of the MCU is putting a lot of weight on her to come in and save the day in Avengers 4, which makes her important, another reason to give her separation from the rest.
Of course, that's not the only reason that we've been given as to why setting the movie in the 1990s is important. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige had previously stated an interest in looking at the MCU at a point when nobody, not even Nick Fury, knew that superpowered individuals existed.
We wanted to explore a period before Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury had any idea about any of the other heroes and crazy stuff going on in the world. You know, we first met Nick when he told Tony, 'You're part of a big universe. You just don't know yet.' Well, we want to go back to a time when he didn't know it yet, and really showcase and announce that Carol Danvers was that first hero that Nick came across.
Kevin Feige also gave yet another reason for setting the film in the 1990s. It seems that, in addition to taking place there, Captain Marvel will also be something of a throwback when it comes to the film's action. Marvel seemingly wanted to do something a little different when it came to the storytelling, and by making a movie in the 90s, the studio had an excuse to make a 90s action movie. According to Feige...
The answer is, you'll see in the storytelling of the movie. But it allows us to play in an area that we have never played in before and tapping into a '90s action genre was fun for us and being able to see an earlier part of the MCU before Nick Fury knew anything about aliens or anything about super-powered people and also tapping into the Kree-Skrull War, which in the comics was a huge part of the comic mythology, seemed like a fun thing to try and a fun way to give Carol Danvers her own standalone origin story.
While setting Captain Marvel so early in the MCU timeline seemed like an odd choice at the beginning, it's clear that Marvel has really thought this through and had many reasons for doing so. We'll see them all plan out when Captain Marvel hits theaters next year.