For better or worse, The Marvels delivers the unexpected. As Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), and Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) team up for an MCU supergroup, their saga also happens to include a Disney princess-like musical number, a bonkers feline sequence, and an intergalactic civil war we had no idea was even happening. But perhaps the biggest surprise was saved for the mid-credits scene, as Marvel films often do, which introduces a major new era for the franchise.
Monica wakes up in an alternate universe after attempting to save her own. Last time we (and the rest of the “Marvels”) saw her, she was putting her life on the line, using her light-based energy to seal a tear in the universe left behind by the villain Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). She succeeds, but the blast sends her into another reality, separating her from the rest of her team.
Monica comes to in a hospital room, but something is off: Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) her mother, who died of cancer, is seated beside her. Monica sobs and apologizes to the woman she thinks is her mom, but this Maria has no idea who she is. Also in the room is a big blue fuzz in a lab coat: Hank McCoy, otherwise known as the Beast, from X-Men, thus ushering the mutants’ entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Voiced by Kelsey Grammer, who played the role in previous X-Men films, Beast tells Monica she somehow crossed through spacetime. He mentions that he’ll have to inform “Charles” of this oddity. Cue the Captain America “I understood that reference” memes: He’s referring to Professor X, Charles Xavier.
Earlier this week, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige teased that the MCU would introduce a live-action X-Men “perhaps soon.” (In the meantime, an animated series is coming to Disney+ next year.) It’s a long-awaited addition to the film universe, especially after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019, opening the door for franchises like X-Men and Fantastic Four to merge with Marvel onscreen (though they’ve always been intertwined in the comics.)
Marvel has already slowly started to sprinkle the X-Men into its recent and upcoming releases, too. Hugh Jackman is set to return as Wolverine in Deadpool 3. Even Vellani’s Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel was revealed to be a mutant in her Disney+ series. They’ve also winked at crossovers with Evan Peters’ cameo as Quicksilver in WandaVision, or Patrick Stewart’s as Charles Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness—both of which ended up being cop-outs.
However, a real MCU X-Men film is in the works at the studio, though still in the beginning stages. In September, Deadline reported that Marvel plans to meet with writers this fall to hear pitches for the script, in hopes of choosing a writer in early 2024. The studio didn’t comment at the time.
Adding to the mid-credit scene reveals, Lynch’s cameo is also worth noting. (And it doesn’t end tragically like her appearance as Captain Marvel in Multiverse of Madness.) She’s wearing superhero garb, and her fiery suit is that of Binary—a Carol Danvers duplicate, made of her own light energy in human form. The connections here run aplenty: In the comics, Monica is an iteration of Captain Marvel. In the films, her mother is Captain Marvel’s BFF but also, apparently, her equivalent in another universe.
That’s a lot to keep track of. And considering Marvel’s ever-growing slate, its universe of superheroes, mutants, and maybe vampire hunters will only continue to expand from here. The hope remains, as always, that they do it right.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.