‘Captain Marvel’: What the Hell Actually Is a Flerken?

The adorable orange tabby, Goose, isn’t actually a cat. Here’s what that means.

Goose the Cat Captain Marvel

(Spoilers ahead for “Captain Marvel.”)

If you’ve seen “Captain Marvel,” then you know that one of the film’s standout characters is Goose, the adorable orange tabby that becomes fast friends with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).

Of course, we eventually find out that Goose isn’t a cat at all — it’s actually an alien creature called a “flerken.” So, uh, what the hell is a flerken anyway?

Created in 2014 by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist David Lopez for “Captain Marvel” vol. 8, issue #1, flerkens are a very rare, apparently extremely dangerous alien animal with human-level intellect that just happens to look indistinguishable from earth cats. They’re also able to do some really freaky things.

For starters, they lay eggs and can reproduce asexually, and in great quantities. (More on that below.) They also hide a giant maw of tendrils, fangs and tentacles in their mouths that can gobble up just about anything they want. It’s pretty gross.

But the weirdest thing of all is that flerkens have a pocket dimension in their mouth that can store anything they want for easy access. Think of them as the cat version of the TARDIS from “Doctor Who”: they’re much bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. By the way, this pocket dimension also, apparently, gives them the ability to teleport.

Their only major weakness is that all of their special powers originate in their mouth-area. So all you have to do to disable a flerken is muzzle it.

Like the movie version, the first flerken encountered —  named “Chewie” instead of “Goose” — was mistaken for an ordinary cat for years. Created by writer Brian Reed and artist Roberto De La Torre in 2006, Chewie was simply Carol Danvers’ pet cat back when she still used the superhero name “Ms. Marvel.” She didn’t seem out of the ordinary except for being maybe a little smarter than most cats.

But after Carol Danvers adopted the Captain Marvel persona, she decided to explore the universe in a cool space ship, and took Chewie with her. Very quickly after she encounters the Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon freaks out about the fact that there’s a flerken aboard Carol’s ship, and tries to kill Chewie before she can lay eggs — it’s implied that because of how feared they are, flerkens have been hunted to near-extinction. Carol protects Chewie and insists she’s a regular cat, but lo and behold, Chewie lays 117 eggs all at once. (Don’t worry: Once hatched, Carol took the babies to an alien wildlife sanctuary, and Chewie chose to continue traveling the galaxy with her.)

In “Captain Marvel” the movie, Goose was originally the animal companion of Mar-Vell (Annette Bening) before her death. Encountered years later by Carol and Nick Fury, Goose is absolutely adored by Fury and ends up tagging along with him and Carol on the rest of their adventures. And yes, just like in the comics, Goose is recognized for what she is immediately by the aliens who see her. We also get to see a little bit of her powers when she gobbles up a couple of enemies, and then manages to swallow the Tesseract without being destroyed.

It turns out that the movie version of flerkens also have an additional power that, so far, hasn’t been seen in the comics — powerful venom that necrotizes the afflicted area. Poor Nick Fury learned this first hand when he accidentally scared Goose, who lightly scratched his eye in response.

Ouch. But hey, now we know how Fury ended up with his cool eyepatch.