Every Captain Marvel '90s Reference & Song That Made You Want To Tie A Flannel On & Listen To Nirvana

Photo: courtesy of Marvel Pictures.
Warning: Slight Captain Marvel spoilers are ahead. Have you ever wanted to watch an Avenger use dial-up internet and listen to TLC’s “Waterfalls”? If the answer is "yes," you’re in for a treat. Instead of setting Captain Marvel present day, like all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies (aside from Captain America: The First Avenger), the movie’s set roughly 20 years in the past, specifically 1995. This means that Captain Marvel is full of glorious ‘90s references and songs, that make the movie one long nostalgic throwback to a time before social media and skinny jeans.
There’s a reason the movie’s set in the past, and it’s a good one. Captain Marvel serves as a somewhat prequel for the greater MCU, largely to show us how Nick Fury became Nick Fury. Captain Marvel is the one who really opened his eyes to the great big world out there, as he is forced to team up with her to help defeat the Skrulls, and later, the Kree. (Samuel L. Jackson has also been digitally de-aged for the movie, but honestly Jackson looks almost the same as he did in 1995 today).
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But, the movie’s not really supposed to be a Where’s Waldo of ‘90s reference, as it’s really telling the origin story of Captain Marvel, and how she’s going to be the one to defeat Thanos in the end. For those who didn’t spend the entire movie trying to spot the retro things, songs, and moments in Captain Marvel, here’s a list of all the ones we could find.
Ye Old Blockbuster
When Carol (then calling herself Vers) first lands on Earth, she crashes through the roof of a Blockbuster in Los Angeles.
True Lies
Thinking that there’s a foe near her, Carol blasts someone’s face off. It’s actually a cardboard cutout of Arnold Schwarzenegger advertising the 1994 movie True Lies.
The Right Stuff
In the Blockbuster, Carol walks through the VHS section and stops at this 1983 movie. While it might be a decade old for 1995, it’s a movie about the first space pioneers, something Carol Danvers can relate to.
Radio Shack
Before you could buy everything online, if you needed tech equipment there was only one place to go.
Pay phones
Though they’re largely outdated now, there’s something about the universal look of a payphone booth that draws Vers in to use it to call home.
Game Boy
While Carol is trying to phone home, on top of the pay-phone is a dismantled Game Boy, which she’s clearly taken apart for parts.
Rock the Vote
While Carol is making her phone call, a handful of Rock the Vote bills can be seen on the side of the wall. While this nonprofit is still around today, it was formed in 1990.
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Giant Cell Phones
After being left behind at the crime scene, Agent Coulson has to make a phone call to Nick Fury, and the phone is roughly the size of his head.
Mallrats
Stan Lee’s cameo is a bittersweet one, as the Marvel legend passed away this past year. He still makes an appearance in Captain Marvel, as a passenger on the train who’s reading a script. It’s (mega Marvel fan) Kevin Smith’s Mallrats, which opened in 1995.
Literal Paper Maps
This was way before Google Maps was a thing, so if Carol wants to get somewhere, she’s gotta actually look at a real map for it.
Internet Cafes
Back in the day, you couldn’t just get online via your phone — sometimes you didn’t even have a computer with internet in your house. Carol heads to an actual internet cafe to do some research.
AltaVista
Once upon a time, Google wasn’t the most popular search engine. Carol uses Alta Vista, and hey, at least it’s not Ask Jeeves.
Brad Pitt
Who was the hottest heartthrob in 1995? Well, according to Captain Marvel it’s Pitt, who gets namechecked during the autopsy scene. It makes sense, since Pitt’s Legends of the Fall and Interview with a Vampire both came out in ‘95.
Nine Inch Nails
Band tees will never go out of style. Needing an outfit that’s less conspicuous, Carol dons a NIN tee. Even Nick Fury comments that the grunge look looks good on her.
Dial-up Internet
Some of you who saw Captain Marvel never had to deal with ridiculously slow dial-up internet, and you didn’t laugh when Carol was faced with it in the movie, and it shows.
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Beepers & Pagers
Can you imagine if the Avengers were trying to stop Thanos and they could only send beeper messages back and forth to each other? It’s such a dated technology, even though in the future it’s still working for Captain Marvel.
Mortal Kombat
And old-school Mortal Kombat arcade game is something Carol encounters in Pancho’s, the bar where she and Maria used to wind down.
AOL
One of the most important things we learn in Captain Marvel is that way back when, Fury used to have an AOL account. Can you even imagine his screen name?
Flannel
Instead of wearing a flannel shirt, Carol ties it around her waist, and she kinda looks like Tai from Clueless.
CDs for CD-Roms
Since this is 1995, important information is stored on CD-Roms. At least by 1995, everyone had finally moved away from floppy disks.
Also CD-Roms Taking Forever To Load
One of the tensest scenes of the movie is also one of the funniest. While everyone waits around for the black box audio for Carol’s plane crash to upload, the scene cuts back and forth between all our characters with Vers finally asking what’s taking so long. The upload bar slowly moving only drives the point home that these things used to take forever.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Monica tells her mom, Maria, that she can miss one episode of The Fresh Prince to go and save the world. Talk about a sacrifice.
Troll Dolls & Koosh Balls
Mar-Vell has only the best ‘90s toys on her spaceship, like an assortment of Troll dolls and Koosh balls (those are baseball sized orbs comprised of rubber strings, to you youngins in the audience). Let’s hope the Skrull children played with them every day.
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The Songs. Oh The Songs.
“Whatta Man” by Salt-N-Pepa plays when the first security guard Carol encounters is sitting at the Blockbuster and listening to this in his car.
“Only Happy When it Rains” by Garbage plays while Carol heads out on her (stolen) motorcycle into the dessert.
“Waterfalls” by TLC plays on the radio as Carol and Fury drive to the Pegasus base.
“Gotta Be” by Des'ree is on at Maria and Monica's a when Carol and Fury show up.
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana plays during Carol's last encounter with the Supreme Intelligence, and Mar-Vell (Annette Bening) dances to the song. Iconic.
“Just A Girl” by No Doubt scores the final fight scene on Mar-Vell’s ship and it is legendary.
“Man on the Moon” by R.E.M., which is quite fitting after Carol literally flew threw space and split Ronan's ship in half, plays while Carol, Fury, Monica, Talos, and everyone else are eating dinner.
“Celebrity Skin” by Hole is the first end credit song and a fitting send-off for Captain Marvel's first outing.
I could do without the dial-up internet, but go ahead and take me back to the '90s, Captain Marvel.
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