Skrulls, Secret Invasion, and the MCU’s Path in the 2020s

The Skrulls in ‘Captain Marvel’

During 2017’s San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios announced the reptilian, shapeshifting aliens known as the Skrulls would be the villains of the Captain Marvel movie. The Skrulls, who were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for January 1962’s “Fantastic Four” #2, are among the greatest intergalactic powers in the Marvel Comics Universe, and are best known for the 1971 storyline ‘Kree-Skrull War,’ and 2008’s ‘Secret Invasion.’

Captain Marvel looks set to ape the former, introducing Brie Larson’s half-human, half-Kree Carol Danvers as a member of the Kree’s Starforce, who returns to her homeworld Earth when the Skrulls begin infiltrating it. The movie will take place in the ’90s, and reintroduce Guardians of the Galaxy villain Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) as Carol’s commanding officer, well before he went rogue and launched a campaign of genocide against the people of Xandar in that film.

Lee Pace as both versions of Ronan the Accuser

We know at some point Captain Marvel will abandon the Kree colors of green-and-black in favor of her classic blue-and-red, and that Ronan will go from stern superior to frothing mad terrorist (likewise jettisoning the Kree dress code). Coupled with comments from actor Ben Mendelsohn (who plays the Skrull commander Talos), where he describes the Kree as “punks” and the Skrulls as “just misunderstood,” it’s extremely likely that Ronan will emerge as the true villain of the film.

It’s possible then that Captain Marvel will end on a civil note between her and the Skrulls, revealing they’ve been quietly living on this planet since that time. It would, as many fans speculate, set up a film version of ‘Secret Invasion,’ where the Skrulls are revealed to have replaced certain prominent Marvel characters as part of a planned takeover.

Skrull Queen Veranke, in the guise of Spider-Woman, addressing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in “Secret Invasion” issue 8. Script by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils from Leinil Francis Yu.

But how would that be reconciled with a seemingly progressive message in Captain Marvel, that the ugly reptilian aliens aren’t the bad guys after all? The Skrulls in “Secret Invasion” are two-dimensional religious fanatics, who never come across as sympathetic despite the loss of their homeworld. This wouldn’t be the first time Marvel Studios has adapted less nuanced source material though: namely, the comic book version of ‘Civil War,’ which depicted the pro-registration heroes in a far less sympathetic light than the movie.

A film version of ‘Secret Invasion’ could depict the whole incident as a misunderstanding, or caused by more malevolent Skrull factions. It’s important to remember that ‘Secret Invasion’ was the set-up for 2009’s ‘Dark Reign,’ which saw Norman Osborn — yes, Norman Osborn, Spider-Man’s Green Goblin — being given oversight of global security after personally killing the Skrull Queen. And put simply, the story of an unhinged maniac exploiting a conflict with a feared and misunderstood minority to gain power remains sadly relevant.

Norman Osborn killing the Skrull Queen in “Secret Invasion” #8.

We’ll find out when Captain Marvel arrives in theaters March 8, 2019.

Autistic British know-it-all. I like gods and monsters. Bylines at @multiversitycom and @nerdypoc.

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