By now, with 11 years of Marvel movies behind us, it should be a given that nothing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is what it appears to be. Rocket isn’t actually a raccoon. Objects like the Tesseract and the Aether are actually powerful Infinity Stones. The Winter Soldier is actually Bucky Barnes — and he’s responsible for the deaths of Tony Stark’s parents. Ego the Living Planet is actually Star-Lord’s dad, who wants to kill his son and his friends.
The latest surprise comes in Captain Marvel, when the audience finds out that Goose, Carol Danvers’s lovable cat, is not what it appears to be.
The cat, which was a consistent presence in the film’s promos and marketing, is truly one of the most enjoyable elements about the movie. And the eventual reveal of Goose’s true nature is one of its biggest twists, with repercussions that affect, in a roundabout way, the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Goose the cat is actually an alien species called a Flerken
There’s a running gag in Captain Marvel that Nick Fury — who is known for being lovable but gruff, and not at all touchy-feely — takes a liking to Goose. But other characters, including Skrull general Talos, as well as the Kree scanner, indicate early in the film that Goose is actually scary.
When Talos confronts Fury and Carol Danvers, he recoils and expresses a deep fear of Goose, telling Fury that the animal is not what it appears to be. And in the film’s third act, we see Goose unleash its true nature when Carol asks Fury to hold the Tesseract for safekeeping — Goose takes it upon itself to protect the Tesseract and promptly unleashes a mouthful full of tentacles to “swallow” it.
That’s because Goose is a Flerken: an alien species that lays eggs and that can shoot large tentacles from its mouth. Flerkens can also shapeshift, thanks to their ability to hold a pocket dimension inside their bodies.
While fearsome to their enemies, Flerkens seem to be loyal to their friends — though this characteristic is seemingly contradicted late in the movie, when Goose scratches out Fury’s eye.
So by the end of Captain Marvel, Goose is responsible for one of the most iconic eye accessories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Fury’s eyepatch, as well as the temporary caretaker of a very important Infinity Stone.
Goose being a Flerken is a faithful adaptation of the Captain Marvel comics. The only thing the movie really changes is the creature’s name: In the comics, Carol Danvers has a cat named Chewie, after the Star Wars character Chewbacca.
As former Captain Marvel comic book writer Kelly Sue DeConnick told me, Chewie the cat was seemingly introduced by writer Brian Reed in 2006, in Giant Size Ms. Marvel No. 1 (the comic is about an alternate dimension that’s created during the “House of M” event).
But Chewie’s Flerken nature wasn’t part of the character’s story until later, when DeConnick wrote it in. DeConnick started writing Captain Marvel in 2012, and expanded on Reed’s creation in part by incorporating some of her own real-life experiences into the comic.
“When I took on the character [of Captain Marvel] it was important to me that we have a sense of her home life and her supporting cast,” DeConnick told me. “Chewie was just funny to me. And I [used to have] this cat, Ham, who I absolutely loved but he was the nastiest creature to everyone but me. I thought it was fun to make Chewie like Ham.”
DeConnick says that Chewie became a fixture in her second Captain Marvel run because it gave Carol Danvers a sense of humanity and another character to talk to. And since Chewie was nasty to anyone who wasn’t Carol, fellow Avengers like Rhodey didn’t want cat-sit. That gave her a reason to bring the “cat” into space.
“I was worried about Carol having to leave all these characters I’d spent so much time and energy developing in order to go to space,” she said. “And I was afraid I’d slide into writing too many internal monologues if Carol didn’t have someone to talk to. So it was just a solution to a problem for her to take the cat with her.”
But what about turning Chewie into a Flerken?
“The idea of the cat being an alien came later, when I got to write the Guardians of the Galaxy [into the comic],” DeConnick said. Carol Danvers interacts with the Guardians, particularly Rocket, during Captain Marvel No. 7 and No. 8 in an arc dubbed “Release the Flerken.”
Not unlike what happens in the movie, Rocket tells Carol that her beloved cat isn’t what it appears to be. And it’s in those aforementioned issues that Chewie’s Flerken nature is revealed.
“I wanted to play with the dynamic of Rocket and Chewie,” she said — referring to the idea that even though the two characters look like a raccoon and cat to human readers, Rocket and Chewie are much more powerful beings — there’s a disconnect between the visual and their abilities, and when Rocket reveals Chewie’s nature, it’s a shock. “I remember having this conversation with Brian Bendis and my husband, Matt Fraction, in Brian’s kitchen years ago. [It’s very] strange to see all this come to fruition [on the big screen].”
“Oh, and when Brian Reed introduced Chewie, the cat just appeared in Carol’s apartment around the same time as she was dealing with an inter-dimensional space traveler, so it all just made sense in retrospect,” she added.
DeConnick’s conception of Flerken Chewie extended beyond her run with Captain Marvel, which ended in 2015. Margaret Stohl wrote Carol Danvers in the 2018 comic The Life of Captain Marvel,and leaned into Chewie’s other powers like shapeshifting:
“I had so much fun messing around with his very ‘merf’ ‘yawn’ ‘so over it’ reactions,” Stohl told me. “I played around with his shape-shifting on my first run, ‘Alien Nation’, but most of the time he functions like comic timing, a reaction shot to some of Carol’s epic superhero-sized physical humor.”
I asked both DeConnick and Stohl to assess Chewie’s power levels by posing each a simple question: Would you rather fight 100 Chewie-sized Thanoses or one Thanos-sized Chewie?
“One huge Chewie!” Stohl declared, noting that Flerken powers render the idea of a Chewie-sized Flerken moot. She said that “Chewie-sized” truly means nothing in that context, since size and density mean nothing to shape-shifting Flerkens.
DeConnick said she would just give up.
“Oh man, do I have to?” she said. “Can’t I just surrender? I for one welcome our new Flerken overlord.”
Look at How Much “Game of Thrones” Characters Have Changed Over 8 Seasons
During the summer of 2019, the final season of Game of Thrones aired. The show had gone on for almost 10 years which is a long time not only for the characters but also for the actors who portrayed them.
Bright Side is remembering what characters looked like in the very first episodes of the groundbreaking series and is comparing them to what they look like in the final season of the show.
1. Cersei Lannister
2. Jon Snow
3. Tyrion Lannister
4. Daenerys Targaryen
5. Sansa Stark
6. Arya Stark
7. Jorah Mormont
9. Jaime Lannister
10. Sandor Clegane
11. Brienne of Tarth
12. Samwell Tarly
13. Davos Seaworth
14. Theon Greyjoy
15. Brandon Stark
Did you watch Game of Thrones? Did you enjoy season 8? Tell us in the comment section below.
Baltimore’s ransomware attack, explained – Vox
Thirteen bitcoins are standing between the city of Baltimore and many of the services and processes its citizens rely on after hackers seized thousands of government computers at the start of the month. The ordeal has been going on for two weeks, and there’s no clear end in sight.
Here’s what’s happening: On May 7, hackers digitally seized about 10,000 Baltimore government computers and demanded around $100,000 worth in bitcoins to free them back up. It’s a so-called “ransomware” attack, where hackers deploy malicious software to block access to or take over a computer system until the owner of that system pays a ransom.
Baltimore, like several other cities that have been hit by such attacks over the past two years, is refusing to pay up. As a result, for two weeks, city employees have been locked out of their email accounts and citizens have been unable to access essential services, including websites where they pay their water bills, property taxes, and parking tickets. This is Baltimore’s second ransomware attack in about 15 months: Last year, a separate attack shut down the city’s 911 system for about a day. Baltimore has come under scrutiny for its handling of both attacks.
The ransomware attacks in Baltimore and other local governments across the US demonstrate that as ransomware attacks spread, and as common targets such as hospitals and schools beef up their online systems’ security, there are still plenty targets vulnerable to this kind of hack. It also exemplifies the conundrum that ransomware victims face: pay up and get your access back, or refuse — potentially costing much more in the long run.
What’s going on in Baltimore, briefly explained
Hackers targeted the city of Baltimore on May 7 using a ransomware called RobbinHood, which, as NPR explains, makes it impossible to access a server without a digital key that only the hackers have.
The Baltimore hackers’ ransom note, obtained by the Baltimore Sun, demanded payment of three bitcoins per system to be unlocked, which amounts to 13 bitcoins to unlock all the seized systems. The note threatened to increase the ransom if it wasn’t paid in four days, and said the information would be lost forever if it wasn’t paid in 10 days. Both deadlines have now passed.
“We won’t talk more, all we know is MONEY! Hurry up! Tik Tak, Tik Tak, Tik Tak!” the note said.
The city government is refusing to pay, meaning that the government email systems and payment platforms the attack took down remain offline. The attack has also harmed Baltimore’s property market, because officials weren’t able to access systems needed to complete real estate sales. (The city said transactions resumed on Monday.)
Baltimore Mayor Jack Young, who’s officially been in his office less than a month, said in a statement on Friday that city officials are “well into the restorative process” and have “engaged leading industry cybersecurity experts who are on-site 24-7 working with us.” The FBI is also involved in the investigation.
“Some of the restoration efforts also require that we rebuild certain systems to make sure that when we restore business functions, we are doing so in a secure manner,” Young said. He did not offer a timeline for when all systems will come back online.
The Baltimore City Council president also plans to form a special committee to investigate this latest attack and try to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
A similar attack using RobbinHood hit government computers in Greenville, North Carolina, in April. A spokesperson for Greenville told the Wall Street Journal that the city never wound up paying, and that while its systems aren’t entirely restored, “all of our major technology needs are now being met.”
More than 20 municipalities in the US have been hit by cyberattacks this year alone. And such attacks can be expensive, perhaps especially if targets say they won’t pay. In 2018, hackers demanded that Atlanta pay about $50,000 in bitcoins as part of a ransomware attack. The city refused, and according to a report obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News, the attack wound up costing the city $17 million to fix.
Ransomware attacks aren’t new — but we’re still figuring out how to deal with them
In 2017, a ransomware called WannaCry targeted tens of thousands of computers using Microsoft Windows operating systems in more than 100 countries. Officials in the US and the United Kingdom eventually blamed North Korea for the attack. Also in 2017, corporations in the UK, France, Russia, Israel, and Ukraine experienced ransomware attacks. US hospitals were also targeted.
Here’s how Timothy Lee explained for Vox what was going on and how ransomware had become more prolific:
The basic idea behind ransomware is simple: A criminal hacks into your computer, scrambles your files with unbreakable encryption, and then demands that you pay for the encryption key needed to unscramble the files. If you have important files on your computer, you might be willing to pay a lot to avoid losing them.
Ransomware schemes have become a lot more effective since the invention of Bitcoin in 2009. Conventional payment networks like Visa and Mastercard make it difficult to accept payments without revealing your identity. Bitcoin makes that a lot easier. So the past four years have seen a surge in ransomware schemes striking unsuspecting PC users.
Some ransomware schemes are so sophisticated that they even invest in customer service, helping victims who want to pay their ransoms navigate the complexities of obtaining bitcoins and making bitcoin payments.
Since then, a number of sectors and organizations have made improvements to their security practices to protect against ransomware. But the latest Baltimore attack exemplifies what a whack-a-mole game this is: One area improves its practices and hackers just go looking for another.
Recode and Vox have joined forces to uncover and explain how our digital world is changing — and changing us. Subscribe to Recode podcasts to hear Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka lead the tough conversations the technology industry needs today.
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