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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Captain Marvel. If you have not yet seen the film, read on at your own risk!
There are many surprises featured within the runtime of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s Captain Marvel, but there is nothing more shocking than the turn that the film makes with the Skrulls. Given the history of the shapeshifting aliens in the pages of Marvel Comics, it was widely assumed going in that they would be the antagonists of the new blockbuster, but everything changes about half way through the film when it’s revealed that Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos and his compatriots are seeking home and security – not invasion and war.
Because of this significant move, there has been a lot of exciting chatter about what the future may hold for the Skrulls in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Specifically, does this mean that all Skrulls are good, and simply at the mercy of the all-powerful Kree? Fortunately, I recently had the chance to discuss that topic with the man who holds all of the answers: Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
I sat down with the filmmaker/executive one-on-one during the Los Angeles press day for Captain Marvel, and I wasted zero time diving into spoiler territory and asking about the role of the Skrulls in the film as my first question. Acknowledging that the green, pointy-eared extraterrestrials have basically always been “bad guys” in the comics, I inquired about how the movie chose to approach them. Feige explained that it was a concept that was developed early in the creative process with the intention of fans who think they have everything figured out even before they’ve sat down to watch the film. He explained,
I think subverting expectations is always fun, and I think breathing reality and life and emotion and pathos into characters you wouldn't expect to have those attributes is also fun, and a good way of storytelling... I think '90s and Fury, of course, Carol Danvers, of course the Kelly Sue [DeConnick] run, and Goose, sort of came together, and then the notion of [good Skrulls]. Because this whole movie is about who can be a hero. Who should be a hero? What does a hero look like? What does it mean to be a hero? And it felt like additive to that theme to do what we did with Talos. And Ben Mendelsohn's the greatest.
In Captain Marvel, the Skrulls definitely do appear to be the villains for the first half of the story – ambushing and capturing Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) during a Starforce mission, and then chasing her to Earth after her escape. She eventually learns the truth about Talos and his crew, however, understanding that they used to work directly with Mar-Vell (Annette Bening), a Kree living on Earth developing a light speed engine with the hope of helping the Skrulls establish a new homeworld. After that point, the objective totally changes for the heroine, and Carol finds herself teaming with the shapeshifters and on a quest to end an intergalactic war.
As noted by Kevin Feige, the change-up works because you never see “Good Skrulls” coming, but on a larger level it was also stressed that a big part of the move was disrupting generalization and absolutes. Part of any conflict is the fact that there are shades of grey, and there are always going to be members of opposing forces with philosophies and ideologies that both compare and contrast in surprising ways. The presence of the Skrulls in Captain Marvel is a perfect example, as while Talos and his crew are just looking for safety, Feige also explained there are plenty out there that don’t have the same kind of peaceful intentions and goals:
People have asked, 'Oh, so are they all good?' And I'm like, 'Is anybody all good?' So that's part of becoming dimensionalized characters. [The capacity for them to be bad is still very much out there], as it is - for better, for worse - for all of us.
So while the end of the blockbuster has Carol Danvers supporting a group that definitely deserves help, you shouldn’t count out the possibility that we still could see some nefarious Skrull plots play out in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For example, there has been a lot of speculation about potentially one day seeing an adaptation of the 2008 comic book crossover arc Secret Invasion, and there is nothing in Captain Marvel that disrupts the idea of that happening one day. There is also the fact that the Fantastic Four will soon be a part of the franchise, thanks to the still-developing Disney-Fox merger, and that is a team that has done a whole lot of clashing with the Skrulls over the last 60 years (including fights with the Super-Skrull, who is a Skrull imbued with the powers of all the members of the Fantastic Four).
Of course, for right now the future of the Skrulls is as mysterious as any aspect of the developing Marvel Cinematic Universe, with everything happening past the release of Jon Watt’s Spider-Man: Far From Home this summer being maintained as a question mark. That being said, you can be sure that there will be fans globally excited to see more of the paranoia-inducing invaders, and it’s hard to imagine Marvel Studios only using them for this one blockbuster and then never utilizing them ever again.
For now, audiences everywhere can still enjoy the first ever big screen appearance of the Skrulls, as Captain Marvel is now playing in theaters worldwide – starring not only the aforementioned Brie Larson, Ben Mendelsohn, and Annette Bening, but also Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Clark Gregg, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, and Lee Pace. And be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend, as we still have plenty more coming from my sit down with Kevin Feige, discussing not only the new blockbuster, but also looking ahead to what’s in the future of his franchise. So stay tuned!