Theaters are selling out, critics are buzzing, and the merch is filling store shelves. All we’ve heard over the last few months is “higher, further, faster,” but what’s really in store for Captain Marvel? And what do you need to know before you settle into the theater armed and ready for action with your popcorn and Coca-Cola?

Maybe you’ve never seen a Marvel flick but feel like a leading lady is just what you need to get involved, or maybe you’re a casual fan who is familiar with the long-standing icons but have no idea what the Kree are. Whatever your reason, we’re here to hit you with some helpful info before heading to the theaters to seeCaptain Marvel. Allow us to explain.

Will I understand what’s going on if I’ve never seen a Marvel movie?

The MCU is not a linear cinematic experience. Captain Marvel is set in 1995, decades before the most recent MCU movie, Avengers: Infinity War. This is an origin story, and viewers will learn all about Carol Danvers while Carol learns about herself. Read as: You can enjoy and understand Captain Marvel even if you’ve never seen any of the other Marvel movies. 

Captain Marvel Is Marvel’s First Female-Led Superhero Flick

Scarlet Witch and Black Widow have been part of the MCU for years, side-kicking for Captain America and other Avengers, but Captain Marvel marks the first time fans will enjoy a film featuring a woman in the lead role. Marvel is a bit late to the game on this front, especially with the premiere of DC’s Wonder Woman in 2017. However, the Avengers would be lost without their fierce females, including Gamora and Mantis from Guardians of the Galaxy, and the iconic Dora Milaje – AKA the body guards for King T’Challa – from Black Panther.

Left: Brie Larson (Captain Marvel). Photo: Marvel Studios. Right: Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman). Photo: Warner Bros.

She’s Not Wonder Woman

Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman sport similar super suits, including patriotic colors, gold accents, and star emblems. But make no mistake: These ladies are from completely separate universes. Wonder Woman is a DC hero, and Captain Marvel is… do we really even need to go here? If you know anything about comic books, you know all of this. But if you stumbled here because you have zero clue what’s going on and your friend or SO is forcing you to go see this movie and you wanna hang, well, now you know.  

She Has Multiple Super Suits (and Identities)

Marvel is making cosplayers everywhere super happy with Captain Marvel, because homegirl has multiple looks. Fighter Pilot Carol Danvers sports a green jumpsuit. Starforce Vers wears a more tricked-out fighting suit in green and black. And then, there’s the classic Captain Marvel blue, red, and gold ensemble. Sometimes, there’s a mohawk. Other times, a Nine Inch Nails T-shirt. OK– this is less of a super suit, and more of an attempt at blending in, but we still love it.

Carol Danvers Is Not the First Captain Marvel

Like most Marvel heroes, things vary when it comes to Captain Marvel’s origin story. In various Marvel comics, Captain Marvel has been a blonde white dude named Dr. Walter Lawson, a cockroach DNA-infused Kree fighter, and a female police lieutenant named Monica (among others). However, this movie is specifically based on the character Carol Danvers. She’s been popping up in Marvel Comics since 1968 and officially became Captain Marvel in 2012.

Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Photo: Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2019

So… What Is a Skrull?

Don’t worry if you don’t know. It’s pretty clear from the trailers that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) doesn’t know either, so you’ll likely get an explainer from Captain Marvel herself during the movie. But if you want to be super cool and impress your friends with your Marvel knowledge, here’s the deal: In the Marvel Universe, there are two alien races that really hate each other – the Skrulls and the Kree, and they’re in a pretty nasty war. For the purposes of Captain Marvel, the Kree are the good guys. The Skrull, on the other hand, have tried to invade Earth multiple times and they are (duh) the bad guys. There’s a super intense history behind the warring aliens, which Marvel spells out in a handy video on their site. But the most important thing to know about Skrulls is that they can shape-shift. As you can imagine, that makes them hella tough to find, detect, or capture. (That’s also why Captain Marvel attacks an old lady in the trailer, FYI.) Captain Marvel is the first time (that we know of) that we see Skrulls in the MCU.

Bron-Char (Rune Temte) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan). Photo: Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2019

Is Captain Marvel a Kree?

Well… yes and no. That’s basically the point of the movie. The Kree are a super-smart, blue-skinned alien race known for their technological advances, and for mixing their DNA with other species’ to create super-soldiers. (If you’ve ever seen the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Ronan — the bad dude who worked with Thanos — was Kree.) In the Marvel comics, human Carol Danvers has a run-in with Kree technology and accidentally becomes a hybrid. We’ll find out in the movie if that’s exactly how things play out, but from the looks of the trailers, it will at least be similar.

Is Captain Marvel an Avenger?

Short answer: Yes! Or at least she will be. If you’re a good little Marvel fan and stayed passed the credits for Avengers: Infinity War, you know Nick Fury called on this superhero when – quite literally – the whole world was crumbling into dust. It’s pretty much an accepted fact at this point that Danvers/Captain Marvel will respond to Fury’s S.O.S., join the Avengers, and help defeat Thanos in next month’s Avengers: Endgame.

Images: Marvel Studios

Co-written by Marissa DiBartolo