Is Captain Marvel setting up the MCU version of Secret Invasion?

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We’re still recovering from all the awesomeness that happened during San Diego Comic-Con this weekend past, so it’s taken us a day or so to truly wrap our minds around some of these announcements (mainly, because said mind had been repeatedly blown over the last few days). During the Marvel panel, it was understandably the new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, and the exclusive footage for Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther (the former of which leaked out in very low-res form) which took top billing and had fans the most excited. However, it may just be that one of the studio’s other announcements is potentially the most important out of the lot.

After a while of not really hearing anything about it, Marvel pulled back the covers a bit on the upcoming Captain Marvel. We had previously known that Oscar winner Brie Larson would play Carol Danvers, the US Airforce officer who becomes the superhero Captain Marvel, and that the duo of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck would be directing. But during the Marvel panel we also learned that the main villains in the movie would be the alien Skrull race, while the movie itself would be set in the 1990s and co-star Samuel L. Jackson as a young Nick Fury who still has the use of both his eyes. We even got some concept art to go with it.

This should have immediately set geek alarm bells ringing, but like I said: Too much mind blowing. Now some background on the Skrulls: They are a humanoid alien race from the planet Skrullos. Two of their defining characteristics are their green skins and pleated chins. They are also one of the three major alien races in the Marvel Comics universe, the other being the Kree and the Shi’ar. While the Shi’ar form part of Fox’s X-Men universe, we’ve already seen the blue skinned Kree several times in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – it was their experimentations on early humans that resulted in Inhumans – and Guardians of the Galaxy. The Skrulls have not really made an appearance in the MCU yet though… Or have they?

My skepticism stems from the Skrulls’ other, most famous characteristic – They are shapeshifters. In the comics, the Skrulls have historically used this ability to peacefully ingratiate themselves with a new civilization they meet, and in so doing diplomatically expand their empire. However, in the massive 2008 crossover comic event Secret Invasion, it was revealed that under the rule of a new Queen, the Skrulls had actually secretly invaded Earth years ago with the intention of conquering it completely. The Skrulls’ shapeshifting is not just for appearances but even allows them to mimic things on a genetic level, meaning they can impersonate a superhero along with all their powers and abilities. Which is just what they did, as Secret Invasion revealed several prominent heroes to have secretly been Skrulls for years – the real heroes having been imprisoned in outer space or killed – kicking off mass paranoia and eventually a war between the actual Earth heroes and the invading Skrull armada.

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Back to Captain Marvel, and we’ve previously learned from Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige that the movie will be tackling an approximation of the Kree/Skrull War, one of the most famous cosmic comic storylines as the two alien civilisations engaged in an epic war with each other which spilled over to Earth. Since Captain Marvel is set in the 90s, we know the MCU version of this will not be happening on Earth as somebody would probably have mentioned this by now. Feige has also previously said Captain Marvel would be the “the most powerful hero” they’ve introduced to the MCU. If she was so powerful, why has nobody heard of her since then?

So here’s what I think is going to happen. In the comics, Captain Marvel (or as she was still known back then, Ms. Marvel), got her powers from the Kree and the same is going to happen here in the movie. But Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers is going to get those powers after being swept up off Earth into this massive galactic conflict with the Skrulls in outer space (think The Last Starfighter, but with superpowers). While I don’t know the details of said conflict or how Captain Marvel factors into it, of course, I’m hazarding a guess that during the movie she learns – or maybe just the audience learns – of a Skrull plan to infiltrate Earth by impersonating key figures.

After this version of the Kree/Skrull war is wrapped up, Captain Marvel has to get back home to Earth. Whatever mode of transport she takes, be it a spaceship or flying, due to the distance from Earth and the speed she would be traveling, the concept of relativity is going to kick in. For her, it might just be a trip lasting a few months or even a few years, but on Earth nearly three decades would have passed. More than enough time for Skrulls to long have replaced characters in the MCU.

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This relativity is also how Larson can play a character in the 90s and still be the same age when she eventually shows up in next year’s Avengers: Infinity War. I’m guessing that she won’t have a big role in that team-up movie, but that Marvel will instead actually be taking a page out of DC Comics’ book. Just like with Wonder Woman debuting in Batman v Superman and then getting her own movie, I suspect Captain Marvel will debut all powered up already in Avengers: Infinity War and then her solo movie, which is set for 2019, will reveal her origin story. This could then feed into the fourth, still untitled Avengers movie which follows a few months later. I can totally see that movie ending with some credits scene revealing a big name hero to have been a Skrull all along.

We’ve heard how the subsequent Phase 4 of the MCU is going to be a very different place to what it is now and having a thick air of paranoia as heroes don’t know who is real would certainly do that. When Marvel previously shook things up with the reveal that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD in Captain America: Winter Soldier, the ramifications of that event set the stage for several other stories to follow. Is Captain Marvel that next big inciting event, eventually maybe leading us to a big hero vs Skrull-ified hero showdown in the future?

Avengers: Infinity War releases on May 4, 2018, while Captain Marvel debuts on March 8, 2019. The untitled Avengers 4, marking the end of Phase 3 in the MCU, is scheduled for May 3, 2019.

Last Updated: July 25, 2017

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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