Captain Marvel Is Stronger Than Thanos — but There's a Catch
Captain Marvel was the final entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before the decade-long epic comes to a head in Avengers: Endgame. It's no secret that Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) is a crucial part in Endgame, as we've seen in the multiple trailers for the team-up film. After all, she's the one Nick Fury tried to call just as he disintegrated in the stinger of Avengers: Infinity War. What's so special about Carol Danvers — is it possible that she's the one who's stronger than Thanos himself?
Here's the thing: all those powers that belong to Captain Marvel in the comics? They don't all belong to the Carol version of the character. In the comics, the first Captain Marvel is actually Mar-Vell, a Kree alien who has major superpowers on Earth, thanks in part to being able to metabolize energy from the sun (yes, like Superman). There's another power, though, that makes him not necessarily stronger than Thanos, but able to outsmart him: the "Cosmic Awareness," a nebulous psychically based ability that allowed him to see the future (within certain limits) and sense his opponents' weaknesses.
Using those abilities, the comics version of Mar-Vell figured out how to defeat Thanos: by turning back time to before Thanos came to power. Given the way that Infinity War ends and the emphasis put on the Time Stone, this seems like it's definitely within the realm of possibility for the cinematic universe as well.
Since Mar-Vell is only a supporting mentor character (played by Annette Bening) in Captain Marvel, the cinematic version of the character is combining traits from the comics' Carol Danvers iteration alongside the Mar-Vell version of the character. Even in the comics, Carol gets her powers in part thanks to Mar-Vell. Her origin story is similar to what we see in Captain Marvel: an Air Force pilot and intelligence agent who later becomes a NASA officer. When she is caught in an alien tech explosion during a battle between Mar-Vell and an enemy alien, the Kree tech imbues her with some of Mar-Vell's powers. Specifically, she gains the ability to fly, strength and physical impermeability, and the ability to blast beams of energy.
All of this sounds like some pretty standard superhero stuff that others among the Avengers have: the Hulk is nearly indestructible, Thor flies and blasts lightning bolts around, Captain America has superstrength, and so on. So what makes Captain Marvel so special in the film universe, and why is she implied to be crucial to defeating Thanos? If the comics are anything to go by, her "Cosmic Awareness" may play a big part — combining that ability with the presence of the Time Stone could help fulfill a popular post-Infinity War theory: that the Avengers will enter the sole winning "endgame" that Doctor Strange foresaw by turning back time.
Thanos doesn't appear in Captain Marvel, which is predominantly set years before the events of Infinity War and the upcoming Endgame, so the head-to-head matchup of his powers against Captain Marvel's will have to go down in the new film. Fingers crossed she's strong enough to turn the tides against him.