How did Marvell get The Tesseract? Looking back, “Captain Marvel” is a bit of an oddity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe canon, coming just ahead of “Avengers: Endgame” not having any plot relationship with that film. and since it takes place in 1995, it feels like it could have been released pretty much any time in the first decade of the MCU.
In terms of MCU lore, perhaps the most interesting aspect of “Captain Marvel” is the way it adds an interesting new chapter to the story of the most well known of the Infinity Stones — the Tesseract, aka the Space Stone — and if you’re acquainted with the Mar-Vell character from the comics then some of the liberties taken with that character here will no doubt come as a major surprise.
And no, I’m not talking about the choice to have Mar-Vell be played by a woman (Annette Bening) instead of a man, though that’s obviously a pretty cool change. I’m talking about the big twist, that the Kree are actually the bad guys and Carol Danvers’ (Brie Larson) Skrull foes are actually just refugees. And that Mar-Vell was working with them and against her Kree masters.
How did Marvell get The Tesseract?
If you’re here reading this article, that means you’ve either already seen Captain Marvel or, at the very least, don’t mind knowing what happens at the very end of the movie. This article dives into a big third act reveal and that final end-of-credits scene. So here’s one last warning before we strap in.
It’s hardly a Marvel movie these days without some gleaming stone or special weapon for our hero to chase. With M.C.U. fans still trying to wrap their heads around the glimmering stones that made their way into Thanos’s Infinity Gauntlet, the powers that be decided to re-use their most familiar MacGuffin in Captain Marvel—that shiny blue box known as the Tesseract.
This movie takes place in the 90s, when recycling was all the rage. But does it make sense to pluck the Tesseract out of the existing M.C.U. timeline? You know what? It does. Here’s a chronological breakdown of how that item—which spent some time in the guts of Goose the Flerken/Cat—has made its way across the M.C.U.
As Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) said in the first Captain America film, the Tesseract was once the “the jewel of Odin’s (Anthony Hopkins) treasure room.” But the box somehow escaped from the Asgard and found its way to Earth, where it was kept hidden until the Red Skull found it during World War II.
The Tesseract Was Discovered In Captain America: The First Avenger
The Tesseract remained hidden until 1942 when it was recovered by the Red Skull and the forces of Hydra. The Red Skull believed the myths of Asgard and the Norse gods contained the seeds of truth, and he had discovered the existence of the cult of Odin at Tønsberg.
Realizing the treasures they guarded, the Red Skull laid siege to Tønsberg, successfully capturing both the Tesseract and the Book of Yggdrasil. Seen in more detail in Thor: The Dark World, the Book of Yggdrasil tells the story of the Nine Realms and the history of Odin’s family. The Red Skull thus learned the secrets of the universe, including the existence of the Infinity Stones.
As shown in Captain America: The First Avenger, Hydra learned how to siphon the Tesseract’s power into devastating weapons. Fortunately, they were opposed by Captain America and the SSR, the organization destined to become SHIELD. The final battle between Captain America and the Red Skull took place on board the Red Skull’s bomber as it flew over the Pacific Ocean.
The Red Skull made the mistake of handling the Tesseract, and he was transported to the distant and deserted world of Vormir, where he would live his life in the presence of the Soul Stone. The Tesseract was lost in the ocean, recovered by Howard Stark sometime later as he attempted to find Captain America’s body. As revealed in Avengers: Endgame, Stark kept the Tesseract close at hand over the decades, continuing to study it.
The Tesseract Resurfaced In Captain Marvel
The Tesseract found its way to Project PEGASUS, a joint venture between SHIELD and the USAF. Howard Stark worked with Project PEGASUS at some point – Tony Stark accessed his father’s PEGASUS records in Iron Man 2 – and thus, he presumably gave them access to the Tesseract.
This drew the attention of the rogue Kree scientist Mar-Vell, who sought to use the Tesseract to create a new form of interstellar travel that would allow her to take Skrull refugees to safety where the Kree could never reach them. In 1989, six years before the events of Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell created a prototype ship powered by Tesseract technology.
Unfortunately, it was shot down by the Kree, and Mar-Vell was killed. Her pilot, Carol Danvers, was irradiated with Tesseract energy and granted phenomenal powers. Mar-Vell had taken the Tesseract, hiding it aboard a cloaked ship in orbit around Earth; it was lost for years.
Captain Marvel 2 Could Give Carol A New Power (Thanks To Space Stone Retcon)
Carol Danvers was taken by the Kree and brainwashed into becoming one of their agents. However, the brainwashing didn’t take, and her memories gradually returned when she arrived on Earth again in 1995. She learned the truth of her own past, discovered Mar-Vell’s identity, and even located the Tesseract. It was swallowed by Goose, an alien Flerken, and sometime later was vomited back up on Nick Fury’s desk at SHIELD in Captain Marvel’s end-credits scene.
Erik Selvig Is Recruited To Examine The Tesseract In Thor
The Tesseract appeared in Thor, a movie generally believed to be set in 2011; its existence was first teased in a book on Norse mythology, which showed an old sketch of Odin using it. The post-credit scene saw Nick Fury recruit Erik Selvig to Project PEGASUS, revealing the Tesseract to him.
Unknown to Fury, Selvig was under the influence of Loki, who immediately realized he had just discovered something very powerful indeed. According to the tie-in comic Fury’s Big Week, SHIELD had been trying to tap into the power of the Tesseract for years – probably ever since the events of Captain Marvel – but had been unable to figure out how to extract Tesseract energy. Under the influence of Loki, Selvig began to succeed where SHIELD had failed.
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