Last week, Captain Marvel’s official site went live in all of its ’90s glory, but one of the most interesting things about the page is something you might have missed.
The first bit of the URL Marvel initially sent out to guide people to Captain Marvel’s webpage isn’t a place you’d expect to find clues about the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, and yet it’s something to take note of.
It appears to be a reference to the classic Marvel villain Annihilus, but his presence in the URL begs the question: Who the hell is Annihilus and why should anyone care?
Annihilus first appeared in Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four Annual #6 when Reed Richards, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm ventured into the Negative Zone in search of an element that’s the key to saving the lives of Sue Storm and the baby she’s delivering. As the de facto ruler of the Negative Zone, Annihilus sees the Fantastic Four’s intrusion into his realm as a threat and launches an assault against them that, unsurprisingly, they’re able to overcome.
From that point on, the insectoid villain became a frequent foe of the Fantastic Four and a number of Earth’s other heroes, making multiple attempts at invading various dimensions. For the most part, Annihilus’ attacks amount to the sort of inconveniences that Earth’s mightiest heroes deal with on a regular basis, but the villain shows his true might in Marvel’s Annihilation event that focuses on a number of cosmic heroes dealing with an invasion from the Negative Zone that’s larger than anything they’ve seen before.
While most of Annihilus’ previous attacks result in relatively minimal damage, in Annihilation, he’s able to completely destroy the planet Xandar and the vast majority of the Nova Corps (you know, those folks from Guardians of the Galaxy). As the enormous fleet known as the Annihilation Wave makes it way across the galaxy, the threat it poses to the universe becomes so great that both the Kree and Skrull (soon to be seen in Captain Marvel) empires are forced to take action, along with many of Galactus’ heralds, to stop it.
Ultimately, Annihilus is stopped by Richard Rider of the Nova Corps and the half-Kree, half-Titan Phyla-Vell after they get ahold of the Quantum Bands that are part of what make him so powerful. But the devastation left in his wake is something that can never be undone.
Annihilus’ impact on the Kree, and Phyla-Vell’s hand in his demise, make him the sort of villain that fits into the bit of world-building Captain Marvel is doing for the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe, but at the same time, name-dropping him raises a number of questions about the future of Marvel’s films. Because Annihilus’ comics origins and canon involve the Fantastic Four, it would have been unlikely that he’d ever be mentioned in relation to the MCU (let alone make an appearance) up until very recently, but with Marvel’s deal to buy back the rights to those characters from Fox, stories about Annihilus and people associated with him are very much back in play.
Captain Marvel, in a sense, embodies the future of the MCU—it’s a bigger, more space-faring place populated by the kinds of villains whose plans for domination are universal rather than global. Carol and the Avengers are almost certainly going to wallop Thanos when Engame hits theatres later this year, but Marvel Studios has every intention of continuing to make films, which means that eventually, there’s going to have to be another Big Bad™ that brings all of the heroes together to save the day.
Judging from what we’ve seen about Captain Marvel, it’s unlikely that Annihilus is due to make his big screen debut any time soon, but he’s the kind of villain that might play a key role in the MCU for years to come.