The Marvels, the 33rd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, opens today nationwide. It is a frothy, fun film, despite its larger implications for the MCU moving forward. It has a short running time—the shortest running time of any MCU film today—but this actually works to its benefit. It does what it needs to do without overstaying its welcome.
Most crucially, the decision to make this an ensemble piece with three leads, rather than a star vehicle for one, was correct. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) is much more compelling when she has other characters to bounce off. And in this movie, she’s able to serve both as an estranged aunt to a grown-up Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and an imperfect mentor to Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani).
Here are 20 Easter eggs and references that we spotted in The Marvels. Let us know if we missed any. And fair warning: Massive spoilers lie ahead!
1. Marvel Logo Update
It seems like from now on, the traditional Marvel Studios logo will be customized for each movie. The first half of the sequence is the same, with the fly-by graphics of Iron Man, Hulk, and the rest of the original Avengers. But in the second half of it, with the visuals in the Marvel letters, there are shots of Carol from Captain Marvel, shots of Monica from WandaVision, and shots of Kamala from Ms. Marvel, respectively.
2. Destroying the Supreme Intelligence
We find out, via flashback, that Carol Danvers destroyed the Kree's Supreme Intelligence, which she promised to do at the end of Captain Marvel (2019). Of course, in classic Marvel fashion, the attempt to do the right thing made the situation worse. And just like Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Carol spends the rest of the movie fixing her initial mistake.
3. Sloth Love
You'll notice that in Kamala's bedroom, there's multiple images of sloths hanging on the walls. This is a holdover from the comics version of Kamala Khan, who also loves sloths. Kamala's YouTube channel for example, is called Sloth Baby Productions.
4. Witch Hex
When Monica says that she got her powers from a witch hex, she's referring to the events from WandaVision, which aired in 2021. In that show, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) creates an alternate reality for herself in Westfield, New Jersey, called "The Hex," where Vision (Paul Bettany) is alive and happily married to her. Monica, by passing through The Hex, gains her superpowers.
5. Kree Bangle Confirmed
In the Ms. Marvel TV show, we see a flashback to when the ClanDestines found Kamala's bangle. They took the bangle off a partially buried, blue arm, which many viewers speculated at the time to be Kree. The Marvels confirms that speculation. We see the Kree main villain, Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton), locate another matching bangle. And we learn they are the Quantum Bands—two of the oldest and most powerful artifacts in the MCU that, according to Carol, were thought to be myth.
Dar-Benn is also a villain in the comics. The massive hammer weapon she wields is known as a Universal Weapon, and he (Dar-Benn was a man in the comics) was the Emperor of the Kree Empire until the Supreme Intelligence took over.
7. Emperor Drogge
Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) died in Secret Invasion, and Emperor Drogge, who we meet in this movie, is another refugee Skrull leader who is seeking a new home through nonviolent means. In Secret Invasion, Talos tells Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) that Drogge's Skrull colony is the only one that did not migrate to Earth in secret.
8. Valkyrie Cameo
After peace talks break down and the Skrulls are forcibly uprooted from yet another planet, Carol gets them to settle in New Asgard on a temporary basis. This leads to a fun, quick cameo by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), who travels via Bifrost to Carol's ship to welcome the Skrull refugees to the settlement.
9. SABER Station
We see a SABER Space Station at the beginning of the movie. SABER is an acronym that stands for Strategic Aerospace Biophysics and Exolinguistic Response. It seems to be an extension and continuation of Fury's SWORD initiative—an outpost that's meant to serve as an early warning and defense against space threats, and a hub for alien species such as the Skrull, who come into direct contact with Earth.
The training montage in the middle of the film, where Carol, Monica, and Kamala learn to work together with their entangled powers, is scored to the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic." The track was their first single off their fifth album, Hello Nasty. The MCU is no stranger to the Beastie Boys; in The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the climactic action scene is scored to "No Sleep till Brooklyn."
11. More Multiverse Shenanigans
Previous Marvel TV shows and movies established the different ways that characters can access the multiverse. They can join the TVA and disrupt the Sacred Timeline. They can convince Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to cast an errant spell. They can ask America Chavez for a favor. The Marvels add another method. They can blast a hole through space-time using the Quantum Bands and simply step across.
12. The Singing Planet
The singing planet that dominates the middle of the movie is Aladna. In the comics, Aladna is a planet where everyone speaks in rhyme. The comics version of Carol Danvers also becomes betrothed to Prince Yan, and she does so in order to release Lila Cheney—a mutant with intergalactic travel powers—from her obligation. In the movie, Carol seems reluctant to talk about the why and how of her marriage, aside from saying that it was for legal and political convenience.
13. K-Drama King
The actor playing Prince Yan is Park Seo-Joon, a K-drama actor best known for his appearances in television shows like Kill Me, Heal Me (2015), She Was Pretty (2015), and What's Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018). Prior to The Marvels, his most notable film was Bong Joon-Ho's Oscar-winning Parasite, where he had a brief but significant role as a friend of the Kim family and an English tutor for the Park family.
The song that plays while the Flerkens (space cats) swallow all the people is "Memory." The song is a Broadway classic and serves as the emotional climax of the musical Cats. It tells the story of an old cat named Grizabella, who is remembering when she was young and beautiful.
15. Lady Liberty's Looking Good
When Nick Fury crash-lands in New York City at the end of the movie, we see the bronze Statue of Liberty, which has been rebranded from its original pose and now holds a fascimile of Captain America's shield. The statue was damaged during the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, although clearly, New Yorkers managed to fix everything up in the months since.
16. Kate Bishop Cameo
At the very end of the movie, Kamala Khan surprises Kate Bishop by showing up at her pad and asking to team up with her. In a speech that perfectly mirrors Nick Fury's at the end of Iron Man, she tells Kate about her plan to bring together a group of "remarkable young people." This is a reference to the Young Avengers team from the comics, a group of second generation superheroes that includes Kate as one of its members.
17. 'Ant-Man Has A Daughter'
As an aside, Kamala tells Kate that Ant-Man has a daughter. This is Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), who builds her own Ant-Man/Pym Particle suit in Ant-Man: Quantumania. So that makes three Young Avengers so far: Kamala, Cassie, and Kate. Who else can join that crew? Maybe Riri (Ironheart) and Yelena (Black Widow)? How about America (Miss America)? Time will tell.
18. Beast Cameo
The massive reveal in the mid-credits scene (there is no end-credits scene) is that Monica Rambeau wakes up in the Xavier Institute. The individual who's monitoring her vital signs is Hank McCoy, better known as Beast. He's played by Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier, The Simpsons), who also played Beast in X-Men: The Last Stand.
This begs so many questions. Is this new universe the same one from the original X-Men trilogy? Or is this a different universe altogether? And how is Disney/Marvel going to introduce these new characters to the rest of the Avengers and the citizens of Earth-616 in a way that feels authentic and unforced? Perhaps they're going to follow up further in Deadpool 3 (2024), whose namesake hero is privy to breaking the fourth wall (and affiliated with Wolverine), which might help with some of the narrative heavy-lifting.
Beast comments that "Charles" wants an update. This is a reference to Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, who serves as the mentor and father figure to the X-Men. We've already met a multiverse version of Charles Xavier in Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. He was played by Patrick Stewart, who also performed the character in the original X-Men film trilogy and again in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
20. Binary Reference
And lastly, we discover that Maria Rambeau is alive in this alternate universe, and she is the mutant known as Binary. In the comics, Binary is a super-enhanced version of Captain Marvel, who can manipulate and shoot cosmic energy. Carol (not Maria) embraces Binary as a new alter ego, after she has her mind and powers taken from her by Rogue.