When Captain Marvel arrives in 2019, it doesn’t just herald the big screen debut of one Marvel’s greatest heroes, but also one of its biggest threats: the Skrulls. These green-skinned warrior aliens have been attempting to invade the Earth since the second issue of Fantastic Four, and thanks to their shapeshifting powers, they’ve come pretty darn close. Over the years, the Skrulls have used their gift for mimicry to impersonate a number of prominent public figures – even superheroes! Most notably, in the Secret Invasion storyline, the Skrulls infiltrated several major supergroups and government organizations, nearly taking control of the planet in the process.
With the Skrulls set to storm into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it stands to reason these alien baddies would adopt similar tactics to their comic book counterparts. It's possible that in Captain Marvel or Avengers: Endgame, we'll find out that more that a few of the MCU’s superheroes – as well as several of their closest allies – have been replaced by Skrulls in disguise. Some fairly big names should be outed as extraterrestrial agents – otherwise, why should audiences care?
That said, while we have some guesses as to who the likely candidates are, we’re also fairly confident we’ve figured out which characters likely won’t turn out to be Skrulls, too. How did we determine who in the MCU we regard as “off limits?” It’s simple: we weighed up the in-universe and real-world benefits and drawbacks involved, and ruled out anyone where the pros outweighed the cons.
Here’s a round-up of 10 MCU Characters Who Might Secretly Be Skrulls (And 10 Who Can’t Be).
20 Might Be – Falcon
Falcon is one of the more prominent “second-tier” Avengers in the MCU canon. However, Sam Wilson isn’t quite so well developed that he qualifies for “protected character” status. On the contrary, this high-flying hero is actually a prime example of someone Marvel Studios could conceivably declare a Skrull without any adverse repercussions.
True, Falcon is a reasonably popular character, thanks to his cool flying apparatus and star Anthony Mackie’s charismatic performances. However, audiences haven’t grown so attached to him that divulging much of his on-screen history has been a lie would generate excessive outrage. That said, Sam’s friendship with Captain America is meaningful enough that him being a Skrull would nevertheless carry the degree of emotional heft required for this twist to matter.
19 Can’t Be – Vision
On the one hand, a Skrull did pose as Vision in Secret Invasion, and even possessed the means to replicate the android Avenger’s superpowers – something Skrulls typically can’t do. It’s also worth pointing out that Skrulls are as adept at taking on inorganic forms as they are those of organic beings. Mimicking Vision’s cybernetic internal workings would be a cinch for these aliens.
On the other hand, when Vision loses his life in Avengers: Infinity War, his body stays the same. If he were secretly a Skrull, he would – according to comic book tradition – have reverted back to his green-skinned, pointy-eared anatomy, instead. Unless a Skrull substitutes in for Vision sometime after his inevitable revival, it’s safe to say he’s definitely who he says he is.
18 Might Be – Happy Hogan
Happy Hogan isn’t just one of Tony Stark’s oldest friends, he’s also one of his most trusted employees – someone who’s worked his way up from bodyguard to Head of Security at Stark Industries. In short, he represents an ideal prospect for anyone (like say, the Skrulls?) looking to plant a sleeper agent close to Stark, and his armored alter-ego, Iron Man.
From a storytelling perspective, replacing Hogan with a Skrull is a no-brainer, too. Happy has been a part of the MCU since its inception, so viewers have built up a degree of affection for him that will lend his betrayal weight. At the same time, he’s also a fairly peripheral player in the grand scheme of things, so nobody’s going to get too upset if he winds up being an alien spy.
17 Can’t Be – Black Panther
There are two main reasons why Marvel Studios is unlikely to swap out Black Panther for a Skrull substitute. F rom a strictly in-universe standpoint, Black Panther is from Wakanda – a secluded kingdom that, until recently, concealed its true nature from the wider world. As such, asking fans to believe that the Skrulls were not only able to penetrate Wakanda’s defences, but also successfully emulate the esoteric rituals and behavior associated with its ruler, is a bit much.
Turning to the business side of things, Black Panther raked in over $1 billion at the global box office, garnered rave reviews, and nabbed several awards and nominations. Marvel Studios isn’t going to risk tarnishing the film’s reputation – nor the upcoming sequel’s performance – by revealing that its hero was an otherworldly imposter all along.
16 Might Be – Sharon Carter
The first love of Captain America’s life was Peggy Carter, a trailblazing female operative who served with him in WWII. Sadly, Cap and Peggy were denied their chance to live happily ever when Steve sacrificed himself. Of course, Steve Rogers later turned up preserved in suspended animation in the Arctic wastes, but by the time he’d been unfrozen, Peggy was an elderly woman. It was obvious that Cap needed to move on, and he has – with Peggy’s great-niece, Sharon Carter!
What could be more heartbreaking for the First Avenger than to discover that the first woman he’s fallen head over heels for since Peggy is, in reality, a shapeshifting alien tasked with deceiving him?
15 Can’t Be – Black Widow
Marvel Studios may be comfortable taking the occasional creative gamble, but it's not likely to mess around too much with its major characters-- and cash cows. Chief among these characters is Black Widow.
Why? Well, Natasha Romanoff has undergone significant character development since 2010’s Iron Man 2, and she’s set to graduate to lead protagonist status in her own solo outing, due out soon. Exposing her as a Skrull just doesn’t seem like a very sound creative or commercial decision!
14 Might Be – Thunderbolt Ross
If the Skrulls do end up resorting to the same play book in the MCU that they’ve relied on in the comics – “invasion through infiltration” – some of their moves seem almost predictable. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross seems like an obvious target for them.
Impersonating Ross fits these shapechangers’ established modus operandi like a glove. For starters, assuming the persona of the Hulk’s archenemy grants the Skrulls access to top level military intelligence vital to a hostile power trying to take over the planet. Better still, it also positions them within the upper echelons of the US Government, courtesy of Ross’ role as Secretary of State.
13 Can’t Be – Captain America
At first glance, unmasking Captain America as a Skrull would be a master stroke. Think about it: what could be more unexpected (or crushing) than learning that the wholesome heart and soul of the Avengers is actually a fraud? However, it’s hard to fathom Marvel Studios pulling off a plot twist of this magnitude without alienating the vast majority of the MCU’s fanbase.
For Cap as a Skrull to work, Marvel would need to find a way to do it that doesn’t invalidate most (if not all) of his previous big screen exploits. Simply put, audiences aren’t going to react too kindly if they find out the hero they’ve been rooting for since 2011 has been a phoney for at least part of that time.
12 Might Be – Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel doesn’t drop until March 2019, but we know the movie is set in 1995, and that it sees Carol Danvers assume the mantle of Captain Marvel after finding herself caught in the middle of a war between the Kree and Skrulls. What’s more, we also know that Danvers is set to appear in Avengers: Endgame, despite not having been around for the rest of the MCU.
A plausible theory currently doing the rounds is that Carol’s lengthy absence is the result of her being imprisoned by the Skrulls. This theory goes on to suggest that the Captain Marvel who shows up in Endgame will be a Skrull imposter; the first of many spies sent to gain a foothold on Earth while the planet’s defences are at their weakest.
11 Can’t Be – Spider-Man
It took Marvel Studios years of exhaustive negotiations with Sony Pictures – which holds the film rights to Spider-Man – in order to reach a deal whereby Spidey could appear in the MCU. The Wall-Crawler’s eventual debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War was therefore the culmination of a lot of effort on the part of Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige. Do we really believe that Feige would go to all of that trouble, only to drop the bombshell that Tom Holland has portrayed a web-slinging Skrull imposter in any of his MCU adventures? Hardly.
Then there’s Far From Home – the upcoming sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming – to consider. Would Marvel endanger that film’s potentially massive box office earnings (its predecessor banked a tidy $880.2 million) just to score some shock value points? Doubtful!
10 Might Be – Hank Pym
Let's use the Secret Invasion storyline from the comics as a guide once more – specifically, the moment when Hank Pym is outed as a Skrull. Although Pym’s role and characterization in the source material is markedly different from how he is depicted on the big screen, there’s still a decent chance his MCU incarnation will likewise be portrayed as an imposter.
The original Ant-Man definitely counts as a “person of interest” in the ongoing Skrull guessing game. However, there are equally good odds on Marvel Studios opting not to translate Pym’s fate in the comics over to the movies, to ensure long-time readers are just as surprised as non-readers when the Skrulls are finally exposed – we’ll just have to wait and see.
9 Can’t Be – Thor
There’s really no way that Thor is secretly a Skrull. Although some Skrulls can duplicate a superpowered being’s special abilities along with their physical form, this doesn’t extend to any mystical attributes they possess. This means that there isn’t a Skrull alive who could imitate the magical “worthiness” that enables the God of Thunder to lift his hammer, Mjolnir, or battle-axe, Stormbreaker.
If that weren’t enough to verify Thor’s identity, there are also more prosaic, non-fiction factors to bear in mind. Thor's own franchise only just hit its stride critically and commercially with last year’s Thor: Ragnarok, and it seems unlikely Marvel Studios would jeopardize this newfound form with an ill-advised Skrull reveal.
8 Might Be – Maria Hill
Maria Hill is another obvious candidate for the Skrulls to impersonate, for three main reasons. One: she’s a former high-ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D., so if the Skrulls moved early enough, they could have had a covert operative embedded in Earth’s premier intelligence organization for years.
Two: even after Hill left S.H.I.E.L.D., she remained Nick Fury’s right-hand woman. Posing as Hill would bestow upon a Skrull spy invaluable insight into Fury’s plans for the ongoing protection of the planet, which their masters could exploit.
Three: Maria just isn’t that a big a deal within the context of the wider MCU. Marvel Studios could make her a Skrull without harming any previous installments in the overarching franchise, given that she’s such a relatively minor character.
7 Can’t Be – Pepper Potts
It’s hard to imagine any supporting character’s “You’re a Skrull!” moment generating a bigger emotional gut punch than Pepper Potts'. As the love of Tony Stark’s life and a MCU mainstay for the last decade, if Pepper spills the beans that she’s an imposter, it won’t just leave Iron Man distraught, but break fans’ hearts as well.
After all, we’ve spent 10 whole years becoming invested in Tony and Pepper's relationship – watching it evolve from a professional association to a romantic one. That’s a long time, so the crew at Marvel Studios should think long and hard before doing anything that could undermine the special bond that this pair shares.
6 Might Be – Hawkeye
From a purely practical point of view, Jeremy Renner is the only member of the original Avengers lineup not headlining his own franchise. It’s more than tht, though: Hawkeye’s failure to report for duty in Avengers: Infinity War is a little fishy.
Yes, Clint Barton was under house arrest at the time, but that’s a rather flimsy excuse when the fate of half the sentient life in the galaxy was hanging in the balance! Could it be that Clint was kept from the battlefield by his Skrull captors? Is the Hawkeye who re-enters the fray in Avengers: Endgame – sporting drastically different attire and preferred weaponry – really an imposter?
5 Can’t Be – Hulk
In many ways, the Hulk would be a cinch for a Skrull to impersonate – provided they’re the “Super-Skrull” strain of the species, capable of copying the Green Goliath’s unparalleled strength. The question is: Why would they bother? Hulk is an international pariah, thanks to his penchant for destroying city blocks when he sees red. The Skrulls aren’t exactly going to prioritize an outsider like Hulk (or Banner) when they can impersonate another, more popular hero, instead.
Besides, the visual impact of an already-green creature being revealed as a different green creature would likely be too confusing for the more casual MCU viewers.
4 Might Be – Everett K. Ross
Government employees are the best targets for Skrulls. Sub in for one of these guys or gals, and there are often additional bonuses, aside from those traditionally associated with their employers.
Like if you were to replace secret agent Everett K. Ross, for example, he would nab particularly awesome double-whammy: you aren’t just breaching the spy agency, but Wakanda as well! This is due to Ross’ good-standing with Black Panther and his people, which ensures he – or a Skrull pretending to be him – will always be welcome among this otherwise guarded community.
3 Can’t Be – Valkyrie
The whole point of the Skrulls impersonating the Avengers and their allies is get close to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and bring them down from the inside. For this scheme to pay off, it depends largely on selecting prospects who share a deep bond with as many other heroes as possible. Which is why a Skrulls taking the place of Valkyrie simply doesn’t stack up.
After all, why go to all the trouble of mimicking someone who can only claim a newly-forged friendship with a lone Avenger (Thor) when there are so many other candidates to choose from? What’s more, Valkyrie has only the most tangential connection to any Earthlings, so she’s not even well-positioned to help the Skrulls secretly invade.
2 Might Be – Nick Fury
What better way to unravel the Avengers – and by extension, the rest of the MCU – than by pulling the rug out from under their collective feet with the news that Nick Fury is secretly a Skrull? The spymaster has been pulling the strings that make everybody else in this shared universe dance since it began with Iron Man, when he started recruiting for the Avengers Initiative.
What if it turns out that every thread that Fury has tugged so far hasn’t been in service of defending Earth from external threats, but rather in aid of one of them? Nick is just important enough that his treachery would pack a real punch, but he's still enough of a supporting character that rewriting some of his past wouldn’t cause too much outcry.
1 Can’t Be – Iron Man
Does anyone genuinely believe that Marvel Studios would entertain the idea of making Tony Stark a Skrull for even a second? We all know that Iron Man is arguably the most popular character in the MCU. revealing him to be a fake is a recipe for fan fury, and not worth the undeniable astonishment it would elicit.
That doesn’t mean we’d rule out Marvel teasing audiences with the possibility that Stark is a Skrull, similar to what writer Brian Michael Bendis did in early issues of Secret Invasion. This way, they can keep fans guessing and ratchet up the tension permeating proceedings, without causing any lasting damage to the franchise!
Who are some other MCU characters who could (or couldn’t be) Skrulls in Avengers: Endgame? Let us know in the comments!