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SYFY WIRE Captain Marvel

Oh snap! The '90s references in Captain Marvel that are all that and a bag of chips

By James Grebey
Captain Marvel '90s

They say only '90s kids remember, but do you remember all the '90s moments from Captain Marvel? The latest entry in the MCU is a flashback to the decade where grunge was big, the internet was just gaining speed, and, in the real world, Marvel Comics was filing for bankruptcy (things turned out okay, clearly). Captain Marvel introduces Brie Larson as the most powerful hero in the franchise, but it also reintroduces moviegoers to plenty of nostalgia-triggering relics of the '90s. Here are the biggest '90s moments in Captain Marvel.



The first big '90s throwback was prominently featured in the trailers for Captain Marvel, but it's still funny to see Carol crash through the ceiling of a once-ubiquitous Blockbuster Video. To think, this is how people watched movies back before Netflix (not to mention way before Disney+).


While inside the Blockbuster, Carol walks by what's probably a better selection of movies than you can find in Netflix's streaming library (boom, got 'em). Anyway, Carol gets spooked by a cardboard cutout advertising the Arnold Schwarzenegger film True Lies, and we see VHS boxes for The Right Stuff, Hook, and Babe.

For what its worth, Hugo Weaving (Captain America's Red Skull) voiced a border collie named Rex in Babe, Jeff Goldblum (Thor: Ragnarok's Grandmaster) plays a recruiter in The Right Stuff, and Hook features Glenn Close (Guardian of the Galaxy's Nova-Prime) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts).


While looking for a way to contact Yon-Rogg, Carol goes to RadioShack, another fun throwback to a company that went out of business. One of the electronics that she scraps for parts is a Nintendo Gameboy, another relic of the decade.


While making an extremely long-distance call, Carol stands in front of a wall that's plastered with bills for various bands of the era, most-notably Smashing Pumpkin's seminal album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Also on display are posters for Gavin Rossdale's Bush and 311. There's also a bill for Rock the Vote, a campaign to get young people invested in democracy that was really big in the era.


When the late Stan Lee makes a brief appearance in Captain Marvel, it's actually one of the deepest, most complicated '90s references in the entire film. Lee is rehearsing lines that Kevin Smith fans might recognize, as they are dialogue that the real Stan Lee gave when he made a cameo as himself in 1995's Mallrats. Try not to overthink the implications of this cute, fourth-wall-breaking moment.


When Carol is in an internet cafe (another thing that existed in the '90s and doesn't really exist these days), she makes a web searching using AltaVista, not Google. That's because in 1995 Google wasn't a terrifyingly powerful monopoly, as it wouldn't even launch until two years later. Before that, web-surfers had a choice between AskJeeves, AltaVista, or Yahoo! Imagine that.


During the alien autopsy, one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents says the dead Skrull is "no Brad Pitt." This is because in the '90s, Brad Pitt was a huge, hot star, riding off of the success of 1994's Interview With the Vampire. This reference would still work in 2019, however, because Brad Pitt has aged extremely well.


In order to blend in, Carol steals some extremely '90s clothes, including a bit of requisite grunge flannel and a shirt with the logo of the band Nine Inch Nails. According to former Nine Inch Nails art director Rob Sheridan, it's a bootleg T-shirt because the logo is wrong. Captain Marvel — or at least Marvel Studios — supports piracy. Tsk, tsk, tsk.


While attempting to prove that he's not a Skrull, Nick Fury jokes that he can tell Carol his AOL password, which makes one wonder what song lyrics Fury used as his AIM away message. (For all you kiddies out there, AIM was like WhatsApp, except it didn't funnel everyone's most personal information to Facebook).


Nick Fury has a page, which is what people in the '90s used before cell phones, to say nothing of smartphones. Their capabilities were limited but, at least nobody ever worried about a pager secretly listening to everything you're saying and selling that information to advertisers so they could target you.


The black box from Carol's crash landing is stored on a CD-ROM, because floppy disks are so passé. Carol is confused when it takes a long time for the information to load, which is a funny joke in 2019 because we never have to wait for anything to download.


One of Samuel L. Jackson's most iconic roles was as the hitman Jules in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Captain Marvel makes a couple of sly references to this, first when Nick Fury and Phil Coulson are sitting in a car together, and then later when Talos appears drinking a soda through a straw.


Maria and Monica Rambeau are fans of the classic NBC sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, starring Will Smith.


The Skrull children hiding on Mar-Vell's lab have some classic '90s toys to play with, including rubbery fuzzy Koosh balls and Troll dolls. (Who needs Fortnight?) This is not the first time that Troll dolls have been featured in an MCU film, as Peter Quill swapped a Troll doll for an Infinity Stone to trick Yondu.

Later, Minerva tries to shoot Carol with a gun, not knowing that it's a Nerf blaster and can only shoot foam and rubber darts rather than a deadly laser. Nerf blasters were introduced in 1992.

Towards the end of the film, once the day has been saved, Monica wants everyone to play Uno, a card game that predates the '90s but was hugely popular in the decade.


Fury explains that Goose is "a cat, not Hannibal Lecter," a reference to the mask the cannibal killer wears in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. (Lecter was famously played by Anthony Hopkins, another MCU actor).