The Skrulls are like something out of the wildest conspiracy theories: a race of shape-shifting space lizards that’s been trying to covertly take over our planet for generations. They hail from a vast galactic empire and wage an endless war against their ancient enemy, the Kree. While the Skrulls are capable of using brute force, they prefer to operate through subterfuge and infiltration.
First appearing on the pages of The Fantastic Four, the Skrulls were introduced as a comic relief. Over time though, they grew to become more complex and menacing. The Skrulls have their own heroes, villains and gods. Their history is filled with dark deeds and unimaginable tragedies, as you’ll see in our list of 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Skrull Empire.
In places, this list may sound far too sympathetic toward these alien invaders. We assure you this is absolutely not because Screen Rant writers are actually alien shape-shifters spreading pro-Skrull propaganda!
15. The Skrulls first appeared in 1962
Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the Skrulls first appeared in January 1962 in The Fantastic Four #2. At first, they were just silly little space goblins inspired by the then prevalent sci-fi cliché of the little green men.
How silly were they? Well, in their first appearance the Skrulls try to turn mankind against the Fantastic Four by posing as them while stealing diamonds and sinking oil rigs. In response, The Fantastic Four infiltrate the Skrull mothership by pretending to be the Skrulls who are pretending to be the Fantastic Four. They convince the Skrull commanders that Earth is a dangerous place by showing them magazine drawings of sci-fi monsters. Later, when an abandoned group of Skrull spies surrenders to the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards advices them to turn into cows and hypnotizes them into forgetting about their past.
14. There used to be three distinctive Skrull races
Millions of years ago, mysterious omnipotent beings known as the Celestials traveled around the universe, creating and advancing life in the cosmos. On a distant planet they performed genetic experiments on the primitive reptilian ancestors of the Skrulls. The result were three distinctive races of green-skinned lizard-like humanoids.
The Deviant Skrulls were natural shapeshifters. The Eternal Skrulls were immortal. The “baseline” Skrulls were capable of evolving into Celestial-like beings. However, under the leadership of a warrior princess Sl’gur’t, the Deviant Skrulls start a war against the other two races. The only Eternal Skrull to survive this genocide was Kly’bn. He convinced Sl’gur’t and her warriors to spare his life so that the Skrulls can fulfill their destiny of ruling over all the other, inferior races of the universe. Kly’bn and Sl’gur’t were married and ascended into godhood. Kly’bn became a representation of true form of the Skrulls while Sl’gur’t became a symbol of their shape-changing abilities.
13. The origin of the Kree-Skrull war
As Skrulls developed space travel, they started meeting other races. At first, the Skrulls were a mercantile civilization, interested in free trade with any civilization they deemed worthy. Their shape-shifting abilities allowed them to quickly and easily integrate with the new races and civilizations. The Skrull Emperor ruled over 978 worlds, each of them administered by its own governor.
And then the Skrulls met the Kree. Originally, the Kree were barbarians from the planet Hala, co-existing with a race of plant creatures called the Cotati. The Skrulls organized a contest to determine which of these two races will represent their planet within the Skrull Empire. When the Kree realized that Cotati will win, they killed both them and the Skrull delegates. Stealing the space-faring technology from the Skrulls, the Kree soon became a fearsome galactic power of their own. Over the millennia that followed, the war with the Kree made the Skrulls change into a militaristic society.
12. The Skrulls have their very own superhero – the Super-Skrull!
The Super Skrull is an early attempt by the Skrulls to defeat the Fantastic Four using brute force. The Skrulls chose a dutiful and decorated Skrull warrior called Kl’rt to become the first Super-Skrull. Using their knowledge of genetics, the Skrulls increase Kl’rt’s natural shape-shifting abilities until he is able to match all the powers of the Fantastic Four. Nevertheless, Reed Richards defeats the Super-Skrull by deducing that his powers are beamed to him from the Skrull throneworld.
Throughout the decades, the original Super-Skrull reappears as villain, hero and pretty much everything in between. He joins forces with other super villains, assumes identities of other superheroes and, for a while, even pretends to be a special effects artist! Unable to defeat The Earth’s superheroes, the Super-Skrull nevertheless proves himself to his people fighting their hated enemy, the Kree. In the aftermath of wars and disasters that leave the Skrull Empire shattered, it is the Super-Skrull who manages to unite his people and get crowned as the new Skrull Emperor.
11. They have their own mutants, too!
Skrull mutants are an accidental result of a government-sponsored fecundity-supplement program that causes an increased number of mutant births. Despite (or because of) the Skrulls being natural shape-changers, the very existence of the Skrull mutants – officially designated as K-class Deviant Skrulls – is seen as a threat to racial purity. Shunned and hunted, a number of these Skrull mutants turns to Professor Charles Xavier to help them.
It is his assistance that initiates the events of Maximum Security, a 2000 cross-over series written by Kurt Busiek and pencilled by Jerry Ordway. Trained by Professor X, Cadre K makes its first appearance in this story, protecting the Skrull mutants from extermination. For this, the Skrull ambassador demands that the Intergalactic Council take measures against Earth. Despite Cadre K saving that very same Council from an attack by Ego the Living Planet, they end up imprisoned. A number of alien civilizations then decides to prevent mankind from meddling with galactic affairs by turning entire Earth into a penal colony, with Ronan the Accuser as its warden.
10. And vampires! The Skrulls have their own vampires as well!
The Dire Wraiths are a race so evil and foul that even the Skrulls are afraid of them, seeing them akin to our vampires and demons. The Dire Wraiths have a uniquely cruel approach towards shape-shifting. They use their long, sharp, hollow tongues to drill holes in their victims’ skulls and suck out their brains. This allows the Dire Wraiths to gain their victims’ memories.
An off-shoot from the main Skrull race, the Dire Wraiths were irrevocably changed when they started studying dark magic millennia ago. Shunned even by their Skrull brethren, the Dire Wraiths left the galaxy for Dark Nebula where they settled on a world orbiting a black sun. The Dire Wraiths were created by Bill Mantlo and Al Milgrom and made their first appearance in 1979 in Rom #1. Originally created as the enemies of the heroic cyborg Rom the Spaceknight, the Dire Wraiths were only later retconned into the relatives of the Skrull.
9. The Human Torch falls in love with a Skrull spy
The Thing’s girlfriend Alicia Masters was first introduced in November 1962 in Fantastic Four #8. Over the years, this blind sculptor occasionally appeared in the adventures of the Fantastic Four. For a while, the Thing leaves Earth to live on an alien planet where he can better control his shape and form. Meanwhile, back home, Alicia falls in love with Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch. The Thing isn’t too happy about this but stoically attends their wedding.
And then the story gets crazier! In October 1991 issue of Fantastic Four it is revealed that, for at least a decade, Alicia has been replaced with the Skrull spy called Lyja. Forced by the Thing to reveal her true identity, Lyja then helps the Fantastic Four release the real Alicia Masters from captivity. Lyja’s betrayal means the end of her marriage with Johnny… until Lyja returns, pregnant with Johnny Storm’s child. They begin to grow close again, only to Lyja betray Johnny yet again when it turns out that she’s actually carrying the Skrull bio-weapon! Even after Johnny is officially done with her, Lyja continues to stalk him which is really easy when you are a shape-shifter.
8. Galactus devours the Skrull throneworld
As the more perceptive readers have probably deduced by now, the Skrulls originate from a planet called Skrullos. Due to the Kree attacks, the Skrulls later move their capitol to a planet called Tarnax IV, turning it into their throneworld.
Until Galactus devours it.
Galactus is among the bolder – or sillier, depending on whom you ask – concepts in the Marvel universe: a giant cosmic being that draws sustenance by devouring the energies of entire planets. Once Galactus sets his sights on Tarnax IV, literally nothing can stop him. The Skrulls cloak their entire galaxy to hide it from him, but to no avail. They send out their entire war fleet to stop Galactus, but such is the might of his herald Nova that she alone easily destroys them all. Destruction of the Skrull throneworld leads to an era of civil war within their Empire which ties directly with the next entry on our list.
7. Skrull agents took the place of Spider-Woman and Elektra
Long before the destruction of planet Tarnax IV, Skrull princess Veranke warns Emperor Dorrek VII about it and accuses him of not heeding the words of the sacred prophecies. In response, he exiles her to a prison planet. After Galactus destroys Tarnax IV, Veranke is liberated by her followers and proclaimed Empress. Convinced that Earth is the new Skrull throneworld told of in the prophecies, she orders an invasion or our world.
In preparation for a full-scale attack, the Skrulls try to saw discord among the superheroes by replacing some of them with their own agents. A number of the new Super-Skrulls are sent to Earth, with the powers of superheroes such as Luke Cage and Thor. A Super-Skrull called Pagon replaces Elektra while Empress Veranke herself poses as Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew.
All these events take place in 2008 Secret Invasion comic book crossover storyline by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu. In a later interview, Bendis admitted that his plans for a Spider-Woman imposter go back all the way to 2005 when she was re-introduced into the Marvel universe after a long hiatus.
6. One of the Skrulls is a Superman spoof
This story might sound familiar to you. Ethan Edwards is a mild-mannered news reporter working at the Daily Bugle, AND he’s actually a lone survivor from the Skrull throneworld Tarnax IV. Ethan’s father – a brilliant scientist who helped create the first Super-Skrull – endows his infant son with an unprecedented level of super powers before sending him out to Earth. Ethan’s life pod crashes in American Midwest, where he’s raised by decent and deeply religious couple.
Created by Reginald Hudlin and Billy Tan, Ethan Edwards first appears in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #13 (June 2005) as a thinly-veiled spoof of Superman. Calling himself Moral Man and later Virtue, he wants to use his powers for good, but the poor guy is so naive he believes he can hide his true identity behind a pair of glasses. Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four try to help Ethan, but instead accidentally activate a subliminal message in his life pod that makes him violent. Aunt May and Jarvis calm Ethan down, reminding him of all the good he can accomplish. Ethan then chooses to retire from the superhero career and become a missionary.
5. The Skrulls like gangster movies
The Skrulls really like old gangster movies. In fact, they enjoy them so much, they build a city-sized theme park inspired by them! In Fantastic Four #91, the Thing is kidnapped by the Skrulls. He expects to end up in some kind of a futuristic space prison, but he’s amazed to instead find himself in Prohibition-era USA.
It turns out that in the 1930s, a gangster called “Machine Gun” Martin escaped out of prison and mistook a Skrull scout ship for an escape vehicle. It is from him that the Skrulls first learn about mobster movies and lifestyles. They’re so entertained by the concept, that they build a giant theme park on the planet Kral IV where the idle rich can pretend to be 1930s movie gangsters. Skrulls then introduce the gladiator fights for an added kick, having their fake gangs resolve their fake conflicts by having their real slaves fight to the death. It doesn’t take long for the Thing to incite the gladiators into a full-scale riot against the Skrulls.
4. Skrullovoria Induced Skrullophobia
Remember how, in their first appearance, a group of Skrull spies decides to spend the rest of their lives as cows? In 1995 writers Grant Morrison and Mark Millar got inspired by the Mad Cow Disease panic to came up with an idea for a comic called Skrull Kill Krew. In it, we learn that milk and meat from the Skrull cows doesn’t really agree with the human metabolism, killing most of those who consume them.
Rare survivors suffer from a condition called “Skrullovoria Induced Skrullophobia”. They become able to shape-shift just like the Skrulls while developing an irrational hate towards these green-skinned shape-changers. Throughout the five issues of the comic, this group of psychopathic superheroes led by a mysterious man known only as Ryder hunted Skrull infiltrators on Earth, slaughtering them in gory and graphic fashion. Second volume of Skrull Kill Krew was published in 2009, written by Adam Felber and with the art by Mark Robinson.
3. The Skrulls are behind the 1947 Roswell incident and the Watergate scandal
In 2000, Marvel Comics published a limited miniseries titled Marvel: The Lost Generation. Scripted by Roger Stern and pencilled by John Byrne, this limited 12-issue series explores the period between the WW2 and the emergence of the Fantastic Four. One of the protagonists is Velmax, a Skrull Lieutenant whose scout ship crashes in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Velmax manages to survive the crash and avoids capture by pretending to be human.
Over the next decades, Velmax comes to see himself as a naturalized US citizen. He joins the super-hero group the First Line and helps them on numerous occasions. When in the early 1970s President Richard Nixon threatens to publicly expose the members of the First Line, it is Velmax who assumes the identity of the informant Deep Throat and leaks the details of the Watergate break-in to Bob Woodward. Decades later, Velmax dies while preventing a full-scale Skrull invasion of Earth. It’s only then that his team members learn his true identity.
2. The Skrulls used to pose as The Beatles
In 1963 a group of Skrull agents is sent to Great Britain on a covert mission posing as… the Beatles! The Skrull Beatles quickly realize they enjoy money and fame so they ditch their orders. Skrull John Lennon goes so far to begin a relationship with Captain Boko of the Free Kree Liberation Army.
Skrull John Lennon was created by the writer Paul Cornell and the artist Trevor Hairsine. He first appeared in the 2006 limited series Wisdom as an agent working for MI-13, a British covert intelligence agency tasked with investigating and fighting the supernatural threats to Queen and country. At one point, Skrull John joins forces with the other members of the Skrull Beatles to help secret agent Pete Wisdom fight the invasion of the Martian tripods from a parallel reality. Unfortunately, a Skrull infiltrator later has three members of the band executed. As for Skrull John Lennon, he gets captured and executed as a traitor by the Skrull invaders during the Secret Invasion storyline.
1. Currently, both Marvel and Fox hold movie rights for Skrulls
Now that you know how splendid, strange and silly the Skrulls can be, the obvious question is when do we get to see them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? After all, races such as the Chitauri and the Kree have already appeared in The Avengers (2012) and Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
Over the years, the Skrulls have been featured – both as villains and as supporting characters – in a number of animated TV shows based on the Marvel comic books: in all four Fantastic Four cartoons, in the 1990s X-Men cartoon series, in the 2009 The Super Hero Squad Show and in recent cartoon series The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. According to James Gunn, the film rights to the Skrulls are currently co-owned by Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox. Recently, there were rumors that Fox might be interested in working with Marvel. There is a precedent for such co-operation, since Sony worked with Marvel to integrate the Spider-Man into Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, there just might be hope of seeing our favorite shape-shifting space lizards on the big screen!
So, what are your thought about the Skrulls? Are there any Skrull characters you’d like to see on TV or in the movies? What are your favorite Skrull storylines? Share them with us in the comments!