SECRET INVASION1 of 9
There must be a reason Captain Marvel is set in the 90s.
Marvel’s only previous period piece movie is Captain America: The First Avenger, which established the building blocks of MCU history. So we don’t think it’s a leap to assume there’s a similar motive for bringing Captain Marvel to the 1990s – and the film’s primary villains, the Skrulls, into the MCU.
We’ve already explored the possible implications of Carol Danvers' updated origin, but now we’re going to go in-depth on another aspect that can be extrapolated about the plot of Captain Marvel.
Given that the Skrulls’ stock-in-trade is impersonation and infiltration, and Ben Mendelsohn's lead Skrull Talos has a secret identity as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in Captain Marvel, we can't help but speculate that there's at least one more Skrull still hiding in the present day MCU - and it could be someone we recognize.
So we started thinking about who could fit the bill. Who would make sense to appear in Captain Marvel (even if just a cameo), that would have been active in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the 90s, and whose subversion would have the necessary impact even stretching to the modern-day films? Along with those key points, we eliminated anyone who has had their own movie since we've experienced their point of view, and (almost) everyone that would have been a young kid in the 90s.
We've narrowed it down to a few choices that we'll outline here. And that's leaving out the possibility that there could be more than one...
HANK PYM2 of 9
Hank Pym meets a lot of the criteria to be a Skrull. We know he was around in the 90s and that he was connected to S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s got a connection to the modern Avengers. His subversion would have an impact.
And of course, he’s technically a shapeshifter. No, he doesn’t change his appearance, but that’s not the only way Skrulls use their power. No, we’re not necessarily asserting Hank Pym’s been a Skrull since the 60s (though it’s not technically impossible…) or that Pym Particles are some kind of Skrull tech (though that’s not technically impossible either. Remember Repulsor tech is based on an Infinity Stone), we’re saying that impersonating someone who already changes shape is a great cover for a Skrull.
Maybe there are a few too many moving parts here, especially given the family movie frankness of Ant-Man and the Wasp, but in Secret Invasion, Pym was replaced by a Skrull for a time so there’s also a comic book precedent.
BLACK WIDOW3 of 9
Yes, we’re breaking our own rule about characters that were children in the early 1990s, but on the other hand... if the Skrull can shapeshift, they can certainty mimic the size and appearance of a child and simulate growth and maturity, right?
Black Widow is just too much of a chameleon herself not to garner some consideration.
Moreso than her changing her appearance (though her hair is always different), her true talent is becoming whatever is necessary to fulfill her mission. And her physical abilities have always bordered on the ... well, more than - if not overtly super - human.
The Winter Soldier started her on a path to apparent growth - she appeared to start developing a conscience over her instinctual duplicitous nature, but her motivations can certainly still be questioned.
Making Widow a Skrull would be the ultimate MCU mind-!@#$, but it would also 100% be in keeping with her entire reason for being.
Bottom line, if there's an original MCU Avenger who might be a Skrull in disguise, Natasha makes the most sense.
JAMES 'RHODEY' RHODES4 of 9
We’ve already discussed how and why Rhodey could/would/should appear in Captain Marvel - and that’s exactly why he’s a great candidate to be a Skrull in modern continuity. Tony Stark’s best friend – and fellow Avenger – being an imposter and an infiltrator for an alien takeover would be a clutch move for the Skrulls, to be sure.
But that may be the only thing really stacking the odds against him. For one thing, he’s already been partially paralyzed by the Avengers’ inter-team clash in Captain America: Civil War which seems like something a Skrull could avoid (though he did get somewhat better by Avengers: Infinity War. Hmmm...). More than that, the MCU is going to have to move away from being Tony Stark-centric sooner rather than later.
NICK FURY5 of 9
Until relatively recently, Nick Fury seemed like one of the strongest candidates to be a Skrull in the modern day MCU. He’s the most secret of secret operatives they’ve got, he’s constantly revealing new bombshell secrets, and he’s a master manipulator of events.
As the guy with his finger on the pulse of the superhero community, he’s also got intimate knowledge on the whereabouts and capabilities of the MCU’s most powerful beings – knowledge that would undoubtedly be useful to a Skrull seeking to take over the Earth. And when it comes to his role in Captain Marvel, Fury’s story is about learning and recognizing the power of superheroes (and learning not to trust the wrong people). That’s a lesson a Skrull coming to Earth would learn quickly – and which could drastically effect how they go about their invasion.
All of that definitely adds up – and when you consider Fury’s role as the only guy who knows what the Skrull are up to in the comic book Secret Invasion you can see how easy it would be for Marvel to make a twist on that story and reveal Fury as a Skrull.
But there are some big problems with the idea of Fury as a Skrull – problems that seem to grow the more we learn about Captain Marvel. For one thing, Fury and Talos, the Skrull villain of the film, definitely seem to be on opposite sides. Talos’ human identity has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., putting him theoretically at odds with Fury. And then there’s the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, in which Fury activates a space pager (hello 90s setting!) that summons Captain Marvel just before he’s dusted by Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet snap. Why would a Skrull villain call the person most likely to beat up a Skrull for help?
Of course, that doesn’t account for the possibility that Fury is a Skrull, but is working alongside the heroes anyway, which isn’t entirely unheard of in Marvel Comics. Nor does it account for the potentially much scarier possibility that Carol Danvers is also a Skrull.
AGENT PHIL COULSON6 of 9
Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson returns to the MCU in Captain Marvel after years relegated to television - presumably to show what he was up to back in the 90s and offer fans some level of closure on his role in the movies.
But what if there's more to it than that? Coulson being a Skrull sure could explain that whole "Nick Fury and Coulson stealing an alien corpse to resurrect Coulson" thing.
That said, there are some holes in the theory - making Coulson a retroactive Skrull would definitely put the connectivity of the MCU and Marvel TV to the test - and make for some interesting future seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
On the other hand, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 6 doesn't premiere until after Captain Marvel (and Avengers 4) are released - meaning that revealing Coulson is a Skrull in a big blockbuster movie would be a surefire way to goose the show's notorious shaky ratings.
EVERETT K. ROSS7 of 9
Everett K. Ross, like Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (no relation) is a government liaison for superheroes - a prime position for a Skrull invader to surreptitiously occupy. In fact, he found a way into Wakanda - something few others in the MCU had been able to do.
And, as revealed in Black Panther, Ross is yet another former Air Force fighter pilot - one who would have been active in the 90s around the same time as Carol Danvers and Maria Rambeau and James Rhodes - a fact that still seems purposeful to us. It seems like a rather conspicuous coincidence to establish just so Ross could credibly fly a Wakandian plane in the final act.
Of course, there is the little matter of Shuri's scanners not registering Ross as anything but a normal human - but in comics' Secret Invasion, the infiltrator Skrulls figured out a way around that kind of detection.
THADDEUS 'THUNDERBOLT' ROSS8 of 9
Thunderbolt Ross checks all our boxes – he’s more than old enough, was in a position of power in the early 1990s, has acted (very) shadily in the past, and is driven by personal agenda.
Sure, maybe a patriotic Ross wanted to recreate and weaponize Hulks to establish an unstoppable U.S. military force for good - or maybe he wanted them under his control to serve as a mole Skrull army…
But it isn’t even his possible motivation than rung our bell. Ross’ return of Secretary of State in Captain America: Civil War was just a little… well, odd, and we thought so even back then.
His role was at best superfluous, delivering exposition that any new character could have delivered, without requiring a slightly awkward account of a heart attack on a golf course seemingly explaining his change in character from someone who wanted to create raw power to someone wanting to mute it. His similar background role in Avengers: Infinity War only added another layer to the mystery of why Marvel is going out of their way to have Thunderbolt Ross appear in their films.
Maybe it was just a 'why not' callback to an earlier film, but it isn’t like 2008’s The Incredible Hulk is particularly well regarded - if anything you'd think Marvel Studios would distance itself from it. And Ross isn't remembered as a standout character.
So why him?
Maybe, after failing his attempts to create new Hulks for the Skrull, his mission changed to helping direct the future - which included jailing half of - the superhero team that successfully fought off a Chituari invasion?
1 of 9
2 of 9
3 of 9
4 of 9
5 of 9
6 of 9
7 of 9
8 of 9
9 of 9