Captain Marvel Villains: Who The Skrulls Are And How They Can Affect The MCU

Skrulls Marvel Comics

Marvel Studios made many exciting announcements during their Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year, but few were as thrilling to comic fans as the news about Captain Marvel. It was not only confirmed that the film would be taking place in the 1990s, but also revealed that it would be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to introduce the alien menace known as the Skrulls.

This news means a lot to those who have been reading Marvel Comics for years, but it's understandable that everyone else might not quite get what the deal is. To prepare you for a whole lot more news about the Skrulls as Captain Marvel moves through development, we've put together this handy guide to provide all of the need-to-know information.

The Skrulls Were Introduced As Fantastic Four Villains

Because the Fantastic Four was one of Marvel Comics' first forays into superhero and cosmic stories, many of the great original villains were introduced in the pages of those books. The Skrulls are a perfect example of this, showing up in just the second issue of the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby series in 1962. They showcased some serious ambition right away, arriving on Earth with the intention of taking over the planet, but before you can reach the back cover Reed Richards figures out a brilliant way to stop them (in short, it involves convincing the invaders to live out their lives as cows).

As we will discuss throughout this feature, however, the Skrulls did not remain limited to the pages of Fantastic Four comics. Instead, they have been somehow involved in many different series and events over the years involving many different heroes -- both cosmic and Earthbound. This is primarily due to their special gift as an alien species, which is what we'll get into next...

Skrulls Marvel Comics

The Skrulls Are A Race Of Shape-Shifters

When the Skrulls first tried to take over Earth, they did so by impersonating the Fantastic Four and committing various acts of destruction. They were able to do this because they are a race of shape-shifters who can basically take any form they desire within certain size constraints (they can take both organic and in-organic forms simultaneously, meaning they can transform parts of their body into weapons). While they are a very highly advanced species technologically and have developed horrific armaments, their preferred method of invasion is disguise and infiltration -- which has led them to conquer many planets in the universe.

The reason why the Skrulls have been a staple of Marvel Comics for decades is because the idea of an enemy that can shape-shift is utterly terrifying, and only more so when you factor in that they can't be detected via even telepathy. When it comes to their appearance in the Captain Marvel movie, you can be sure that there will be at least one sequence featuring a group of insanely paranoid individuals who have grown to learn that they can't trust anyone.

Skrulls Marvel Comics

The Skrulls Are Reptilian In Their Normal Appearance

There are a number of shape-shifting aliens in science-fiction history that, as a result of their powers, don't really have any kind of "normal" appearance, but the Skrulls are different. The ancient ancestors of the aliens was a reptilian race that was transformed as a result of experimentation done by the god-like Celestials. The ability to shape-shift was gained as a result of these experiments and wound up being a part of the genetic lineage, but still they kept a very distinct look.

When not pretending to be someone or something else, Skrulls are easily identifiable by non-humanlike features. They have green skin, pointy ears, and chins with numerous vertical folds. As Reed Richard proves in early Fantastic Four comics, particular technology can be used to expose their true form, but without it there's really no telling a Skrull from anything or anyone else around.

Kree-Skrull War Marvel Comics

The Skrulls Have Been At War With The Kree For Centuries

As noted earlier, the Skrulls are an ambitious species, and that fact really wound up biting them in the ass when they first came into contact with the Kree. Exploring the universe, the Skrulls arrived on the planet Hala and discovered two primary species: the Kree and the Cotati. In an attempt to determine which race would represent the planet of Hala in the Skrull Empire, the Skrulls took 17 of each, dropped them on separate planetoids, and watched to see which developed faster. To the horror of the Skrulls, the Kree wound up killing the Cotati, and then they murdered the Skrull delegates -- using their technology to vastly advance their own. It was this event that wound up launching centuries of Kree-Skrull warfare.

The intergalactic conflict between the two alien species has been a key part of Marvel Comics for years, famously at the center of the Kree-Skrull War event series that played out in the early 1970s. Marvel Studios has already brought the Kree to the big screen via Guardians of the Galaxy, but now we may get to see a live-action take on their battle with the Skrulls in Captain Marvel.

Carol Danvers Ms Marvel Marvel Comics

The Kree-Skrull Conflict Directly Ties To Carol Danvers' Origin Story

Interference by the Skrulls led the Kree to become one of the more aggressive alien species in the universe, and it didn't take too long for them to start wondering about Earth and whether or not humans would be a threat to their growing empire. In order to attain information about us, Captain Mar-Vell was assigned the job of spying on the planet, and took on the identity of military scientist Dr. Walter Lawson. It was as Lawson that Mar-Vell first encountered Carol Danvers, and wound up completely changing her life.

While it's been said that the Captain Marvel movie will be changing the character's origin story, Carol Danvers' powers come from the fact that she was present alongside Captain Mar-Vell during the explosion of a Kree device. Exposure to a particular energy caused Danvers' DNA to meld with Mar-Vell's, turning her into a human-Kree hybrid with incredible strength, and the abilities to fly and absorb/project energy. And none of it would have happened if the Skrulls hadn't messed with the Kree in the first place.

Secret Invasion Marvel Comics

The Skrulls Once Executed A Secret Invasion In The Marvel Universe

The Skrulls have consistently existed in the pages of Marvel Comics for a long time, but the last time that they were truly front and center in the universe was back in 2008/2009. It was at this time that writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Leinil Francis Yu launched Secret Invasion - a crossover storyline that revealed that the Skrulls had slowly been infiltrating Earth for years, specifically by replacing key members of the superhero community.

This is a particularly interesting storyline to consider for the Marvel Cinematic Universe when you consider how the Skrulls are being introduced. Captain Marvel will establish that the shape-shifting aliens were on Earth all the way back in the 1990s, which means that it takes place before all of the MCU movies we've seen so far with the exception of Captain America: The First Avenger. Is it possible that a character we've grown to know and love has actually been a Skrull the whole time, or was replaced at some point? Only time will tell, but you can be sure that fans will be looking out for clues.

Super Skrull Marvel Comics

There Is One Skrull Who Is Off-Limits For Marvel Studios

Because of the movie rights that Marvel sold off back in the 1990s, there are a few characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who are bound by particular rules. The Skrulls fall under this umbrella, as like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, they can be used in films by both Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox. There is an extra step in the agreement, however, which is that the character known as Super-Skrull is off limits to Marvel.

Just looking at the picture of Super-Skrull -- real name Kl'rt -- should clue you in to why he will never be featured in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. Following their defeat at the hands of the Fantastic Four, the Skrulls genetically engineered one of their own to be a perfect weapon against the superhero team, and Kl'rt was imbued with all of their respective powers. Fox still holds on to the Fantastic Four big screen rights, and while it was determined that the Skrulls are more Marvel villains than specifically Fantastic Four villains, there was a line drawn in the sand with Super-Skrull.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.