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Captain Marvel is going to have her hands full come 2019. Marvel Studios finally dropped some plot details about the Captain Marvel solo film this past weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, and it's safe to say that just about everyone was caught off guard. Not only will the film take place in the '90s and feature a younger Nick Fury, but the Skrulls will be the main antagonists. That's pretty neat by itself, but Kevin Feige also teased that the Kree-Skrull War storyline would also play a factor in the movie. It's one of the bigger Avengers stories out there, and we think that the mythology of the conflict between these two alien races in Captain Marvel could potentially lay the foundation for what's coming to the MCU in Phase 4.
While the Kree-Skrull War is an iconic Avengers storyline, it's not the most well known to the public. The story arc occurred in pages of Avengers #89-97 in the late '70s. Written by Roy Thomas, the comic is considered to be a highlight of the era, with critics citing its real world comparisons to conflicts at the time like Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for Soviet spies. The eight-issue storyline followed the Avengers as they found themselves and the planet Earth stuck in the middle of a long standing intergalactic conflict between the Kree and the Skrull. The story is kicked off by the arrival of Captain Marvel (the original one, the Kree Mar-vell) on Earth, where his alien presence sends the populace to fear extraterrestrials and hate the Avengers for not cooperating with the recently formed "Alien Activities Commission."
Turns out this paranoia is partly fostered by the Skrulls, who use their shape shifting abilities to sow unease in the public and ruin the Avengers image. Meanwhile, Ronan the Accuser, the main villain from Guardians of the Galaxy, is busy trying to devolve Earth back into the prehistoric era (Hank Pym gets turned into a caveman) in order to use the planet as a base against the Skrulls. The Avengers thwart that particular scheme, but the Skrulls end up kidnapping Mar-Vell, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, taking them to the Skrull homeworld in the hopes the Mar-Vell can be coerced into building a machine to wipe out the Kree. The remaining Avengers stage a rescue mission, save their buddies and end the war (well, this iteration of it, anyway), as well as uncover the remaining Skrull spies on Earth.
It's a wild storyline, though maybe a bit tame by today's modern comic book "events." It almost doesn't feel like one cohesive storyline because the Avengers essentially go on several mini-adventures that vaguely end up having something to do with the Kree or Skrull (the Inhumans even show up for a bit). If the Kree-Skrull War was ever done today, it would be treated on a much bigger scale. That doesn't mean that the storyline wasn't important and the fact that it has something to do with Captain Marvel means that Marvel Studios is looking to further expand their cosmic world.
It's important to note that Captain Marvel will likely not be an adaptation of this particular event. A 100% adaptation of the Kree-Skrull War is pretty much impossible thanks to its use of characters Marvel doesn't have the rights to, and the fact that it's drenched in '70s era comic book sensibility (See: Hank Pym becoming a caveman). Kevin Feige said that a "huge portion of the mythology" of the war would belong to Captain Marvel. This likely means that the history of the war will be introduced and will play a factor in the story, but it won't actually be the focus. Traditionally Carol Danvers gets her powers from the Kree, so it's easy to connect the dots to how she comes to be in the target sights of the Skrull.
We already know that Marvel Studios is working on expanding its cosmic universe, with James Gunn serving as a key creative figure. These new stories will be important in Phase 4, presumably setting the stage for the next major conflict that the coming years of films will build toward. A war between two alien races who want to use the beings that battled Thanos as their pawns definitely qualify for an epic arc. It could be that in addition to setting up Captain Marvel herself as a major player, Carol Danvers' solo film could be planting seeds for future movies.
With the Skrulls around, it's impossible not to think of Secret Invasion, their biggest story. That 2007 comic book event was a massive crossover that revealed that the Skrulls had secretly replaced several superheroes with Skrull sleeper agents with the purpose of taking over the planet. The idea that any of our favorite MCU characters could be Skrulls would feed Reddit theories for years if set up well enough. That event could lead to a more direct and modern adaptation of the Kree-Skrull War, where the Avengers are once again thrust onto the intergalactic stage. There's a number of ways Marvel could play this out. Plus, it would be something we haven't seen before and introduce us to new corners of the MCU.
Captain Marvel comes right at the time when Marvel is going to be thinking about future storylines for Phase 4. It makes a lot of sense that deepening the history of the cosmic universe is the way to open the path to those stories. Maybe the Kree-Skrull War won't be the focus, but it's not a name to just be ignored or forgotten. It's definitely something to think about while we wait for Captain Marvel to hit theaters on March 8, 2019.