It looks as if the Skrulls may make their live-action debut in next year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The superhero movie world is full of characters being rebooted, but the genre's long life and proliferation means next years will bring about the first story arc reboot. While X-Men: The Last Stand loosely wove the threads of The Dark Phoenix Saga into its cluttered film, next year's core X-Men movie will see Simon Kinberg attempt to finally tell a more fleshed out version of the tale. Of course, the sprawling, intergalactic plot is unlikely to be fully brought to the big screen.
Earlier this year, as more information arrived regarding X-Men: Dark Phoenix, word broke that the film had cast Jessica Chastain as Lilandra. The ruler of the Shi'ar Empire, Lilandra plays a huge role in the comic story involving the Phoenix inhabiting young Jean Grey. But while the actor was confirmed to be a villain in the film, Chastain later shot down that she was playing Lilandra. Now, a whole new wrinkle has been added to the story.
As part of EW's cover story for X-Men: Dark Phoenix, new tidbits of information have been revealed about the film. While they're all naturally vague and don't spoil anything, we finally have a better idea of Chastain's role. Indeed, she won't be Lilandra or another member of the Shi'ar Empire, but will instead play "an otherworldly shapeshifter who comes into contact with Phoenix." The first image of Chastain in Dark Phoenix has also been released, along with a quote from the Oscar-nominee about her character:
"Simon [Kinberg] and I were talking about the character and I said, 'I keep thinking of the vet who tells you you need to put your dog down. There’s something very clinical about it."
Though their are many shapeshifters on Earth in the Marvel Universe—Mystique, for example—intergalactic races with the power are limited. In the Ultimate Universe, there's the Chitauri, but they're firmly owned by Marvel Studios. The most popular, however, are the Skrulls, and they just happen to be co-owned by Marvel and Fox. 2019 will see the aliens play a major part in Captain Marvel, but it looks like X-Men: Dark Phoenix will introduce them first.
The Skrulls do play a small role in The Dark Phoenix Saga, but only as one of several civilizations who vote on how to handle the Phoenix. Ultimately, it's the Shi'ar who factor the most into the cosmic story. If Chastain's big role is a Skrull rather than Lilandra, it does beg the question of whether the Shi'ar Empire will even be in the film. As for which Skrull Chastain could play, that's a bit complicated.
The Skrull analogue to Lilandra would be Princess Anelle. She's the daughter of Dorrek VII, the ruler of the Skrull Empire, and they both play a big part in the Kree-Skrull War. Thanks to Skrull character descriptions for Captain Marvel that arrived last week, it seems both Anelle and her father could be prominent characters in the MCU film. Whether X-Men: Dark Phoenix would also use them seems unlikely, but Fox's deal with Marvel gives them the first rights to any characters they own. For now, the speculation will have to continue regarding Chastain's role, but given a rumor from October that the Skrulls will be in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the alien races presence does seem all but confirmed.