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Avengers: Infinity War’s post-credits scene, explained

What’s next for the Marvel Universe?

Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR..L to R: Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Wong (Benedict Wong)
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Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Avengers: Infinity War had a record-breaking opening weekend and is all but assured to take first place again in its second. The film gives fans all over the world exactly what they’ve been waiting for: an extra scene at the end of the movie.

Yes, forget about Thanos, about the Infinity Stones, about Thor meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, about Iron Man meeting Doctor Strange ... it’s all about that post-credits scene.

Let’s explain it.

[Warning: This post contains MAJOR spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. Like. Seriously.]

Avengers: Infinity War - close-up of Thanos looking down
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Marvel Studios/Disney

What happens in Avengers: Infinity War’s post-credits scene?

Avengers: Infinity War has an understandably subdued credits sequence. There are no fancy animations, no cute jokes. And it only has one credits-adjacent scene, at the very end.

Infinity War itself has shown us how our heroes react to Thanos’ ultimate victory: the instantaneous murder of half of all sentient beings in the universe, randomly chosen. They watch their closest compatriots crumble into dust, expressions of shock and fear on their faces even as they fade away. Infinity War’s post-credits scene shows us the effect of Thanos’ actions on the rest of Earth.

We open on Nick Fury and Maria Hill, driving through urban traffic, listening to a news broadcast about Tony Stark’s disappearance. Their progress is interrupted when a car smashes into theirs. They realize it’s empty just before a helicopter careens out of the sky nearby, and people on the street near them begin to fade to dust.

As Hill starts to fade as well, Fury dashes to his bag in the back seat of their car, grabbing a strangely modified beeper. And just before he himself crumbles into flakes of dust, he manages to activate it.

The beeper hits the ground, displaying only an ellipsis for a few stressful moments. Then, triumphantly, it displays an eight-pointed star, which turns gold on a field of red and blue. The implication is clear: The person Nick Fury thought to call in the event of a catastrophe of cosmic proportions — bigger than Hydra or the Chitauri or Ultron — is Captain Marvel.

Carol “Captain Marvel“ Danvers on the cover of The Mighty Captain Marvel #2, Marvel Comics (2017)
Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel.
Elizabeth Torque/Marvel Comics

Who is Captain Marvel?

The Captain Marvel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Carol Danvers. The superhero is a U.S. Air Force pilot who was endowed with superhuman strength and durability, and the ability to fly and fire energy beams from her hands, when her DNA was scrambled around with the DNA of an alien hero known as Mar-Vell.

At least, that’s how she got her powers in the comics. We won’t know exactly how her story shakes out in the Cinematic Universe until her movie comes out on March 8, 2019. But don’t get hopeful that Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson as the titular superhero, will resolve all your lingering questions about Infinity War. Her movie will be set in the 1990s, more than a decade before Tony Stark kicked off the Avengers age by announcing that he was Iron Man.

Which also probably explains why Nick Fury used a beeper to reach her. A space beeper. (I’m only assuming she’s in space, but ... I feel like it’s a safe bet.)

Carol’s fictional life as a superhero began in 1977 as the character Ms. Marvel, a distaff counterpart to the original Captain Marvel. He was a soldier named Mar-Vell, a member of the alien Kree. (If you’re wondering who the Kree are, you’ve already met one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Ronan the Accuser, the central villain of Guardians of the Galaxy.)

Mar-Vell was sent to spy on Earth, but developed an affection for its people and became a superhero instead. When Carol and Mar-Vell were caught in the explosion of an alien device together, Carol’s DNA was merged with his, making her a human/Kree hybrid and giving her a helping of his powers. She protected the world as Ms. Marvel for many years, but eventually, after Mar-Vell’s death, she took up his mantle and became Captain Marvel in 2012.

One of the reasons you can expect Carol’s backstory to be tweaked for the movies is that it seems like she’ll be the first hero known as Captain Marvel in the Cinematic Universe, jettisoning her origins as a sidekick/partner. And that’s fair: She’s not only the current version of Captain Marvel, but a very popular and well-known one. Arguably, she’s Marvel Comics’ most famous female superhero outside of the X-Men. And Marvel Entertainment, of course, doesn’t currently own the film rights to the X-Men because ... well, it’s complicated.

If Avengers: Infinity War’s post-credits scene is an indication of anything else, it appears to confirm that we’ll see Carol in her traditional red, blue and gold, contrasting with photos from the Captain Marvel set that show Larson in a teal, blue and silver outfit.

And after Captain Marvel premieres, the next place we’ll see Carol Danvers is in the subsequent installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the still-unnamed fourth Avengers movie, which is scheduled to hit theaters on May 3, 2019. That’s also where we’ll get our first look at what happens after Thanos snaps his fingers and kills half the Marvel Cinematic Universe — until then, we’ll just have to try to relax.

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