Note: A flerk ton of Captain Marvel spoilers ahead.
Brie Larson may be the titular star of Captain Marvel, but the unlikely scene-stealer is a cat named Goose, who has captured the hearts and minds of Marvel Cinematic Universe fans everywhere with his deceptive little cat face.
Part of Goose’s charm is that he appears to be a cat, and everyone (the internet, at least) is horny for cats. Seeing his collared body on a Captain Marvel movie poster right next to Oscar nominees Jude Law and Samuel L. Jackson is inarguably darling. But the reality of just who — and more importantly, what — Goose is in the MCU is a bit more complicated than a winsome, soft, and lovable cat. Goose is actually, technically, none of those things, because he’s not, really, a cat at all. Goose is a Flerken, and maybe one of the deadliest aliens the MCU’s ever seen.
The comic-book history of the Flerken is spotty. It begins with Chewie the cat (Goose’s comic-book counterpart), who was officially introduced in Ms. Marvel #5 in a brief appearance as an unnamed rescue cat back in 2006 (when our heroine, Carol Danvers, was still using the “Ms.” moniker instead of “Captain”). She kept him around, gave him a name (after Chewbacca, because of his wild fur), and considered him to be her regular, nonlethal house cat.
That’s how circumstances remained for almost a decade, until 2014’s Captain Marvel #1, in which Carol takes off into space and brings untrusty Chewie with her. When she meets the Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon takes one look at Carol’s furry pal and reveals the horrifying truth — Chewie is a vicious alien monster. A Flerken and a liar. Surprise!
Naturally, Carol has her doubts. Rocket explains that the Flerken only looks harmless, but in fact his kind are eldritch beings capable of laying hundreds of eggs, shooting tentacles out of their mouths, consuming virtually anything, and teleporting through space. They even have “pocket dimensions” in their stomachs, meaning they can consume objects much, much larger than their bodies without issue. In essence, the untamed Flerken is not the sort of creature you’d want wandering the halls of your domicile, spaceship or not. Rocket’s advice is to either kill Chewie or sell him on the black market; Flerken are actually pretty rare across the galaxy, so they fetch a high price.
Carol continues to assume Rocket has simply never seen a cat before (which, considering Rocket’s inability to recognize himself as a racoon, was a pretty fair assumption at the time) until Chewie betrays his true, monstrous colors by laying a whole clutch of eggs and generally taking a turn for the terrifying. Thankfully, Carol’s years of caring for Chewie back on Earth seem to have earned her some favor, because Flerken Chewie remains loyal to her as he gleefully wreaks havoc on everyone else.
In the latest MCU movie, Chewie’s name is updated from a Star Wars nod to a Top Gun reference, but Goose’s character arc is basically the same, with a couple minor adjustments. Goose isn’t actually Carol’s pet, but a random animal she finds wandering around the Project Pegasus base with Fury. Also, in Captain Marvel, it’s Skrull commander Talos who clocks Carol and Fury’s feline friend as a Flerken. No one believes him at first — especially not Fury, who’s become quite enamored with what he thinks is an unarmed house pet — until Goose winds up shooting a bunch of nightmarish tentacles out of his mouth and casually eating some enemy soldiers.
The bulk of the Flerken reveal in the comics is intended as a gag — who doesn’t worry their Mr. Meow is a death-dealing alien every now and again? — but Captain Marvel’s adoption of what otherwise could have been a goofy one-off gimmick might hint that the Flerken will have some sticking power in the greater MCU. Goose left an indelible mark on movie franchise history by giving Nick Fury a parting gift he can’t return, and by transporting an Infinity Stone back to Earth via his extra-dimensional stomach pocket. If shameless Groot has recurring character potential, can’t Goose?
There’s reason to believe he can’t: Carol Danvers herself, Brie Larson, is severely allergic to cats, and Samuel L. Jackson merely “tolerated” the animal on set. Logistically speaking, having a feline in the film, let alone one cosplaying as a Flerken, wasn’t ideal. Still, there are so many Goose-related questions left to answer. We still don’t know how the Flerken ended up on Earth in the first place, or why it would have been so willing to pretend to be a benign presence for so long. And how long do Flerken live, anyway? Goose is still on Earth by the end of Captain Marvel, so does that mean we’re going to see him in Avengers: Endgame? Did he follow in Chewie’s footsteps and lay a ton of eggs somewhere? Are ravenous, tentacle-mouthed house kitties slowly invading the planet?
Probably not. But hey, we can hope. Maybe the key to beating Thanos has been under our dander-sensitive noses this whole time.