31 ’90s References In ‘Captain Marvel,’ From Grunge Rock To The Early Days Of The Internet
If you feel like music and pop culture was at its best in the last decade of the last millennium, then Captain Marvel may be your favorite Marvel movie yet. Though the movie kicks off far away from Earth, in the Kree capital of Hala, Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) eventually makes it back to our home planet, right smack in the middle of the '90s. It turns out that the Nine Inch Nails shirt Carol sports in the trailer was just the beginning of all the '90s references in Captain Marvel, which range from its riot grrl soundtrack to its dated (but back then, revolutionary) tech.
Young versions of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) are far from the only throwbacks in Larson's character's first onscreen outing. Part of the fun of watching Carol make sense of humans and recover her memories is tracking all of the decade-specific dialogue, music, and Easter eggs that are packed in to almost every frame. We knew way back in Infinity War, when Fury reaches out to her on a souped-up pager, that Captain Marvel would lean hard into its setting, and it does not disappoint on that front. So keep reading to see if you caught all of these '90s references, and watch out for Captain Marvel spoilers below!
1. Blockbuster Video
Carol, who then thinks of herself as Vers, crash lands into a Blockbuster Video store after tangling with some Skrulls. With the chain all but defunct, this probably hit you with some bittersweet nostalgia.
2. 'True Lies'
Vers then attacks a standup of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis in 1994's True Lies, blowing their cardboard heads off.
3. "Whatta Man"
The night watchmen (who isn't in charge of the movie theater, thank you), is listening to this Salt N' Pepa and En Vogue collab in his car.
4. Radio Shack
Vers heads to Radio Shack, purveyor of cordless phones and remote control cars, to try to get in touch with her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law).
5. Game Boy
She uses Nintendo's first handheld system to upgrade a payphone and make an intergalactic call.
6. Smashing Pumpkins
The payphone is in front of a record store that's covered in album art and posters, including the cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and the Bush logo. (Gavin Rossdale's band actually performed live at a Captain Marvel world premiere event.)
7. Calling Long-Distance
Vers loses her connection with her team when she's prompted to enter her "long-distance access code," which is something you needed before iPhones existed.
8. Rock The Vote
The record store is also promoting Rock the Vote, the campaign that partnered with MTV to teach young viewers that being politically engaged was cool.
9. "What's The 411?"
Fury uses this '90s-era slang phrase, which we should probably bring back, even though the internet has basically replaced that directory.
In his cameo, departed Marvel legend Stan Lee is reading the script for Kevin Smith's 1995 comedy Mallrats, in which he also appeared.
11. Alta Vista & Internet Cafes
Vers goes to an internet cafe to do some research on pre-Google search engine Alta Vista, but runs into the same problem so many of us often did at the time: a bad network connection.
12. Alien Autopsy Videos
The autopsy S.H.I.E.L.D. conducts on the dead Skrull definitely has the same look as those sketchy alien autopsy videos and specials that became popular in conjunction with The X-Files.
13. "Only Happy When It Rains"
The first major hit from Shirley Manson and her bandmates plays when Vers takes off on the motorcycle of some guy who told her to smile.
14. Nine Inch Nails
And we learn that the NIN shirt she's wearing in the trailer was stolen right off of a mannequin. It suits her!
You can't set a movie in the mid-'90s without including TLC's monster hit.
When Vers wants to quiz Fury to figure out of he's a Skrull in disguise, he sarcastically offers to give her his AOL password.
17. Fury's Pager
We see the pager Fury uses in Infinity War for the first time when he calls for backup from the top secret military facility.
18. "You Gotta Be"
Carol's best friend Maria (Lashana Lynch) and her daughter Monica (Akira Akbar) are listening to this Des'ree jam when Fury and Carol show up.
19. Women In The Air Force
Maria mentions that women in the Air Force weren't allowed to fly in combat back when she and Carol were there together. Since Carol "died" in 1989 and the Pentagon didn't change that rule until 1993, per Aviation Week, that tracks.
Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) provides the data from Carol and Mar-Vell's (Annette Bening) crash on a CD-ROM, which takes forever to load.
21. 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air'
The Will Smith comedy is Monica and Maria's favorite show to watch together.
OK, technically this is an '80s reference, but it's definitely one that Carol remembers. (She's missed all the the Earth '90s so far anyway...) When she lets Monica experiment with the color of her suit, she briefly makes it black with multi-colored neon accents, which seems to be a nod to the sci-fi movie.
23. Troll Dolls
There are toys, including a few naked Troll dolls, all over Mar-Vell's lab, because it's also a refugee colony housing Skrull families.
24. Koosh Balls
She has a few Koosh dolls too — those filamented balls that were perfect for playing catch in the pool.
25. "Come As You Are"
When the Supreme Intelligence tries to compel Carol to give up, she does a little dance to this Nirvana classic.
26. 'The Silence Of The Lambs'
"It's a cat, not Hannibal Lecter!" Fury says about Goose. But we find out soon after what Flerkens are capable of, which may make the cutie more dangerous than the fictional serial killer.
27. "I'm Just A Girl"
Carol's big showdown with the Kree (after she rips out the device they've been using to control her) is set brilliantly to No Doubt's timeless girl power jam.
28. Nerf Guns
Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan) is unpleasantly surprised when she learns that the gun she shot at Carol is only loaded with foam darts.
Uno has been around since the '70s and it's still around, but it was hugely popular in the '90s, which is why Monica wants to play it when everyone returns safely from the mission. (The design has changed, but Target sells this retro version.)
30. "Man On The Moon"
R.E.M.'s ode to Andy Kaufman plays in Maria's dining room.
31. "Celebrity Skin"
And Courtney Love's band Hole's biggest hit, "Celebrity Skin," kicks off the closing credits, after Carol has blasted off to put an end to the Kree-Skrull war for good.
With any luck, Captain Marvel will get a sequel, and Carol will return to the Earth before the '90s are over. What would she make of TRL and the teen movie surge? I hope we get to find out.