Major spoilers ahead for Avengers: Infinity War. If you've already headed out to the theater to see Avengers: Infinity War, then you're likely cursing Thanos over that mind-boggling cliffhanger. You might also be asking yourself, can Captain Marvel time travel? Because it's starting to feel like she's going to need to if the Avengers have any hope of coming out of this mess alive.
At the end of Infinity War, Thanos — who now possesses all of the infinity stones — snapped his fingers and made half of the world's population disappear. Several key heroes were turned to dust right in front of viewers' eyes, including Black Panther. It was a terrifying ending, particularly because, for once, the good guys did not save the day. And if any world-saving is going to happen, the audience is going to have to wait until Avengers 4 hits theaters on May 3, 2019 to see it.
Between now and then, Marvel has two superhero movies lined up that could hold the answers to how Iron Man, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers can still win this battle. Those two movies are Ant-Man and the Wasp (out July 6) and Captain Marvel, which hits theaters on March 26, 2019. It's no coincidence that both of these films will deal with the quantum realm.
The quantum realm was first introduced in the MCU when Ant-Man shrunk himself past the point of space and time. This place is incredibly powerful and difficult to navigate. It reappeared again in Doctor Strange, and it's set to play a role in the second Ant-Man film since Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, is trapped there. But it will also be part of Captain Marvel's story, and that could mean that Carol Danvers (played by Brie Larson) — with some help from Scott Lang — is the key to putting the universe back on track in the wake of Thanos' big win.
Carol, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, doesn't possess the power to time travel whenever she wants. However, her DNA is fused with a Kree warrior's, and that gives her some impressive skills including super-strength, flight, the ability to exist in space, and, likely, enough durability to make it safe for her to navigate the quantum realm. In the post-credits sequence for Infinity War, Nick Fury manages to send a message to Captain Marvel via a super cool beeper. The movie doesn't reveal when she receives this message — the present, where she's yet to be seen, or the past, like say, the '90s, which is when her debut film is set.
If Fury did send Carol the message in the past then she could be armed with the information she needs to help course-correct the future so that Thanos never gets his hands on all of the stones. In a 2017 interview with Inverse, quantum physicist and Marvel consultant Dr. Spiros Michalakis confirmed that understanding the quantum realm would be essential for Captain Marvel viewers. While Dr. Michalakis couldn't go into too much detail, he did tell Inverse of the all-important realm,
"This is exciting for the future. There are different ways that some of these ideas appear on-screen in a few years. Not just for Ant-Man, but also for Captain Marvel and all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe."
So, why would Fury use his last moments of existence to beep Captain Marvel? Because she has the strength and focus necessary to navigate the multiverse, and perhaps even use the quantum realm against Thanos.
As Dr. Michalakis explained to Inverse, the ability to exist within the quantum realm makes heroes like Ant-Man far more powerful than they realize. In the interview, he explained,
"If someone could go to a place where the laws of physics as we know them were not yet formed, at a place where the arrow of time was broken and the fabric of space was not yet woven, the powers of such a master of the quantum realm would only be constrained by their ability to come back to the same (or similar) reality from which they departed. All the superheroes of Marvel and DC Comics combined would stand no chance against Ant-Man with a malfunctioning regulator."
That kind of other-worldy manipulation is exactly the kind of thing that the Avengers could use to defeat Thanos, but since most of them have been blinked out of existence, they're going to need a little help from their friends like Captain Marvel and Ant-Man. It's not technically time travel — the quantum realm is much cooler than that — but it certainly sounds like Captain Marvel could be capable of rewriting history, and in the process changing the fates of your favorite heroes.