Warning: Captain Marvel spoilers are ahead. It’s truly a testament to how much fans were excited for Captain Marvel’s release that all anyone could talk about after Avengers: Infinity War was Captain Marvel's pager. We lost half the universe, including most of the Avengers, after Thanos snapped his Infinity Gauntlet, and yet it was the post-credits scene that got audiences most hyped. Nick Fury, having just seen his partner Maria Hill dissolve into dust before his very eyes, ran to the trunk of the car to send a page before dissolving himself. When the camera panned down to the pager, Captain Marvel’s logo glowed triumphantly. We didn’t know much back then, but we did know that if anyone is going to be the key to defeating Thanos, it would be the badass and powerful Carol Danvers. Her debut film Captain Marvel, out now, only continues to add more evidence to that theory, but it also finally decodes the mystery of how Nick Fury got Captain Marvel's pager in the first place and how it works. Turns out, ‘90s technology was way cooler than we ever gave it credit for… at least, when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In the movie, Fury first comes into contact with Carol Danvers (then simply called “Vers”) in the first few hours after she crash lands on Earth. He approaches her while she uses a Game Boy and other ‘90s technology she picked up at the RadioShack next to the BlockBusters she crashed into (so many amazing nostalgic references!) to upgrade a payphone to communicate with her fellow Kree Starforce team. This is our first clue that humans have no idea how much potential there is with seemingly simple technology. We definitely never would have thought to use our Game Boys as a way to contact aliens!
When Fury and Carol finally team up for the first time, they investigate Pegasus, a joint NASA and USAF project, and Fury calls SHIELD for backup on his normal pager. He doesn’t know at this point that the shapeshifting Skrulls have already infiltrated his organization and they’re immediately ambushed. That’s when Carol takes his pager because he “can’t be trusted” not to keep messing up her mission. Both Fury and audiences don’t see that pager again until the very end of the movie, after Carol helps the Skrulls escape from the Kree.
In a sweet, relaxed scene, Carol, Fury, Maria Rambeau and her daughter Monica as well as the Skrull leader Talos and his wife and child are all having a nice dinner at the Rambeau household. After their heartwarming meal, Carol and Fury are on dish duty, and after they joke around (and Fury sings!) she finally gives him back his pager. She tells him that she “upgraded” it at some point during the movie — it now has the range of "a couple galaxies at least" and is "for emergencies only." Who wants to bet she used more ‘90s technology like a Tamagotchi or a walkman to do it?
While we don’t get a detailed explanation of how the pager is able to call Captain Marvel across a couple galaxies (at least), the scene with the payphone at the beginning of the film helps put all the pieces together. The Kree clearly taught Carol how to combine different alien technology together to help her on missions no matter which planet she’s on, and that serves her well on Earth. And even though she has to leave the planet, she doesn’t want to leave Fury alone and without any alien allies should more invasions come (and they will), so the pager is her way of saying she’ll continue to defend Earth if it ever needs her. Considering that the entire universe just lost half its population, she’s definitely needed.
And who knows: maybe she didn’t even need the pager to know something went wrong. Wherever she was when Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, she no doubt noticed 50 percent of the universe disappearing. The pager just helped connect her with the only remaining heroes left in existence to fix what Thanos did, as shown in the Captain Marvel mid credits scene when she comes face-to-face with Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine and Bruce Banner who were trying to keep the pager’s signal going. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch as Carol (hopefully) makes things right in Avengers: Endgame.