Things are awfully green around here today. No, I’m not referring to our attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions by keeping the beans away from Darryn, but rather to the green skin of the Skrulls. Earlier today I posted a theory of how the inclusion of the comic book alien race in the upcoming Captain Marvel could perhaps lead to the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Secret Invasion, Brian Michael Bendis and Lenil Francis Yu’s best selling 2008 crossover event. If that happens, the shapeshifting Skrulls are going to be everywhere in the MCU, which leads to the question: How can the Skrulls be anywhere in the MCU?!
As you may know, Marvel doesn’t own the cinematic rights to all its characters. The studio currently has a co-producing deal with Sony for Spider-Man, but when it comes to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, they belong solely to Fox. In the case of the Fantastic Four, this also includes all the characters that were created alongside or are primarily associated with the foursome. Since the Skrulls have traditionally been FF villains, most fans assumed this to mean that Marvel couldn’t touch them. So when it was revealed during the Marvel panel that Captain Marvel would see the Skrulls as the main antagonists, this led to many scratching their heads. Luckily James Gunn is here to unscratch them.
When a fan asked the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 & 2 writer/director about it on Twitter, Gunn explained in a series of tweets that the Skrulls actually exist in a bit of a rights grey area. Much like how Fox and Marvel could use different versions of Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers: Age of Ultron respectively because he’s a both mutant and an Avenger, so too the Skrulls can also be used by both studios under certain circumstance. However, according to Gunn, while “the Skrulls as a whole are co-owned… Some specific Skrulls are [only] at Fox.”
Those specific Skrulls which Gunn are referring to are the Super-Skrulls, or more specifically the original Super-Skrull, K’lrt. This elite warrior first appeared in Fantastic Four #18 way back in 1963, and was the Skrull Empire’s first attempt at a super-being of their own who innately possessed all the individual abilities of the Fantastic Four but only dialled up to 11. There have been many other Super-Skrulls since then, all using different combinations of heroes’ powers, and they are apparently all off-limits to Marvel.
As Gunn explained in a follow-up tweet, the same “subset of a species” red tape applies to Uatu, a member of the Watchers, the ancient race of super-intelligent beings who just observe the happenings in the universe. The Watchers are also co-owned by both Fox and Marvel, which is why they could recently make a brief MCU appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but Uatu, the most famous of the lot, was not among them. That’s because Uatu has mainly featured in Fantastic Four stories, and is thus wholly Fox’s property.
Gunn went on answering some more questions, some of which dealt with whether Marvel and Fox have to check with each other about how they use these co-owned characters (“No”), whether Galactus would be used in Guardians Vol. 3 (“No”) or why Fox doesn’t let Marvel use the Fantastic Four as they played such a big role in so many iconic stories (“For the same reason I don’t give my car to my next door neighbor”). That sounds about right.
Look for the Skrulls to make their first official appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when Captain Marvel releases on March 8, 2019.
Last Updated: July 25, 2017