A dangerous and warlike race of shapeshifters, in the comics the Skrulls have set their covetous gaze upon the Earth many times. EW's exclusive first look at Captain Marvel revealed that the titular hero will head to Earth when she learns the Skrulls are on her homeworld. According to the synopsis, the Skrull leader Talos "spearheads a Skrull invasion of Earth."
That single line has caught the attention of every moviegoer who's familiar with the original comics. It's evocative of one of the most important Skrull-centered stories of all time, 2008's Secret Invasion, and it suggests the beginning of a plot that could transform the future of the entire MCU.
- This Page: Secret Invasion In The Comics And Captain Marvel
- Page 2: How Will the MCU Handle Secret Invasion?
Secret Invasion Explained
The early 2000s saw the Avengers divided over the Super Human Registration Act, with Captain America and Iron Man leading rival teams of heroes. When the dust settled from the so-called superhero Civil War, Iron Man had won, and he began to establish a network of superhuman teams across the world. Meanwhile, the remainder of Cap's allies went on the run from the law, continuing their unlicensed superhero careers in spite of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s pursuit. This was the backdrop against which writer Brian Bendis began to develop the Secret Invasion plot. One of the Avengers teams discovered that Elektra, leader of the Hand, had been replaced by a shapeshifting Skrull for years. Disturbingly, the heroes only learned this when Elektra was killed and the body shifted back to its natural state. After examining the corpse, the Avengers realized that there was literally no way to detect a Skrull impostor.
The Skrulls had essentially been overtaken by a group of religious extremists, who were determined to claim the Earth as their new homeworld after their planet was devoured by Galactus. They'd studied Earth's heroes carefully, learning both how to mimic their powers and how to hide from all detection - even magic. Over the course of years, the Skrulls had systematically infiltrated the planet's defenders, compromising both S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. Tony Stark - who at the time was the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. - began to sense the scale of the threat, but he didn't know how to counter it. After all, as the tagline for Secret Invasion asked - "Who do you trust?"
With America's superhero community in chaos after the Civil War, the Skrulls accelerated their plans. They used Iron Man's network of teams as a conduit to spread their own influence, and systematically undermined his Initiative. When the invasion itself kicked off, it was with crippling strikes against S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and the Initiative. Major heroes such as Hank Pym and Spider-Woman were revealed to have been Skrull impostors for years. The Avengers barely defeated the invasion, and the victory came at a terrible cost.
The strangest thing about "Secret Invasion" is that it took Marvel so long to do it. Until this plot, few Marvel Comics really exploited the idea of a shapeshifting race of aliens. There had been occasional flashes of brilliance; a Skrull impostor fell in lover with the Human Torch, Wolverine was revealed to have been replaced by a duplicate, or the Skrulls secretly infiltrated the Shi'ar Empire. But, when it came to invasions of Earth, until the days of Brian Bendis they'd been treated as just another race of warmongers. That's why "Secret Invasion" has become synonymous with the Skrulls in the minds of comic book readers. It was the first story to develop them to their full potential.
How Captain Marvel's Skrulls Start the Arc
According to EW, the Skrulls have launched their invasion of Earth in Captain Marvel, which is set in the 1990s. Ben Mendelsohn plays the main villain, Talos, and he's apparently gone undercover as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. That certainly suggests that, just as in Secret Invasion, the Skrulls have begun their attack by systematically infiltrating Earth's defenders. Presumably their modus operandii is the same as in the comics: identifying key targets, capturing them, and then replacing them. The Skrulls would then work their way up the chain of command, gradually taking on positions of key influence.
There's a sense in which S.H.I.E.L.D. is facing an even worse threat than the one seen in the comics. After all, as far as we're aware this is the first time S.H.I.E.L.D. has encountered aliens in the MCU. What's more, given that they're a race of shapeshifters, S.H.I.E.L.D. probably don't even know they're there, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is unlikely to be the only organization the Skrulls have infiltrated (the US Air Force is confirmed to play some sort of role in Captain Marvel as well). In the comics, the Skrulls have something of a history of launching attacks on Cape Canaveral, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the movie saw them launch a strike against NASA too. The seashore in the above photograph could easily be the beach near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center.
The fundamental concept is the same as the comics. The Skrulls have come to Earth, they've begun to infiltrate the planet's power structure, and nobody even knows about the silent threat. This definitely seems inspired by Secret Invasion - but where will the story go from here?
Page 2 of 2: How Will the MCU Handle Secret Invasion?
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019