Captain Marvel will transport audiences back to the 1990s. That’s not only a setting that’s full of pop culture relics including Blockbuster video-rental stores and Nine Inch Nails t-shirts (Carol Danvers was a fan) but a time when the Kree-Skrull War impacts Earth. This intergalactic war spans thousands of years and fills a mammoth chunk of Marvel comic-book lore, but the long-standing conflict hasn’t materialized onscreen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe until this movie. Yes, the Kree (through the characters of Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer, along with rejected Kree slave Yondu, who’s Star-Lord’s adoptive father) were actually introduced into the MCU in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. However, they’ve still largely been sidestepped in favor of showcasing extraterrestrial foes like the Chitauri until now.
That’s an interesting tactic and ties into how Captain Marvel has so far stayed absent from the MCU, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man. Suddenly, we’re staring down the Phase 3 capper, Avengers: Endgame, as it’s due to arrive on April 26, and Carol Danvers interfaces with Nick Fury to confront a “bad guy”/Skrull infestation on Earth. The possibilities for introducing this war are endless because the backstory is almost mind-boggling in its breadth, so it’s worth digging into and wondering whether the war will be confined to this movie, or whether it will hold implications for Endgame (and beyond). Let’s talk it out.
The Timing Of The Set Up
As seen above, there’s no love lost between Carol Danvers and her enemies while she furiously mocked a Skrull in this television spot, but it’s useful to consider the timing of when Captain Marvel surfaces on Earth. If this movie takes place in the 1990s, where has she been throughout the MCU? Given that Marvel chief Kevin Feige shut down Joss Whedon’s hope of introducing her in 2015’s Age Of Ultron, we can gather that Captain Marvel’s been purposely held back for a big reveal (because she’s a title character and deserves as much). Nick Fury didn’t call for her until right before he was dusted in an Infinity War post-credits scene, and she’s presumably been quite busy with a mystery task in outer space. She’s his secret weapon of sorts, and he knows that she could possibly be the only Avenger who’s powerful enough defeat Thanos.
Carol Danvers begins Captain Marvel with a strong identification to her Kree heritage. In fact, she very much believes that she’s 100% Kree, who she describes as a race of “noble warrior heroes.” She’s the first extraterrestrial on Nick Fury’s radar and sets out to figure out what the Skrulls want. In the process, she also learns about her own links to humanity. As for Jude Law’s character, he was originally believed to be Mar-Vell, the original incarnation of Captain Marvel in the comics, but he actually plays Yon-Rogg, the Starforce commander who trains Carol. Lee Pace returns to the MCU as Ronan the Accuser, and Ben Mendelsohn has been hailed as a surprise MVP while playing Skrull leader Talos, who arrives on Earth to hunt down Danvers. According to UPROXX’s Mike Ryan, Mendelsohn infuses the role with humanity. (Without spoiling anything here, this leads to other unexpected outcomes that don’t necessarily line up with comic book lore, but let’s do this anyway.)
Boiling Down The Comic Book Mythology
The Kree-Skrull War first surfaced in Marvel comics in 1971 and quickly sprouted several branches. We could easily spend thousands of words summarizing the conflict, given that the issue has loomed large throughout decades of stories. At this point, it’s a massive undertaking to bring the war to the big screen in any capacity, yet there’s also the reality that there’s no way to sum up the war in one film — after all, the Skrull’s distaste for humanity has led to skirmishes involving the Fantastic Four, the Inhumans, and the Avengers. Still, it’s worth touching upon the essentials, much of which the film simply won’t explore.
The Skrulls (who Nick Fury describes as “the bad guys” while speaking to Danvers) weren’t always so confrontational. They’re a technologically advanced society who began beefing with the Kree after denying them their technology following a cutthroat competition between the Kree and their sister species on the same planet. This led to a violent clash and an ongoing conflict, yet while the Kree weren’t without clean hands in the bloodshed, the Skrulls held onto the resulting grudge and transformed into a war-loving species (in the comics). Incidentally, the war also resulted in the Kree performing experiments on humans (who weren’t on Earth) in an effort to breed anti-Skrull soldiers through a process that ended up creating the Inhumans. That’s not exactly what happened to Carol Danvers to make her part Kree — more on that in a moment.
As far as the aforementioned offshoots go, a relevant arc harkens back to the Mar-Vell days. He tangled with the Skrulls in an alternate dimension before traveling to Earth, where he interfaced with the Avengers. Not long after, Ronan the Accuser hoped to transform the Earth into ground central for a Kree-Skrull battle, which exposes Mar-Vell’s alien status. This dilemma becomes pretty darn political with a lot of back and forth while the Avengers try to protect both Mar-Vell and their own reputation, and the shapeshifting of the Skrulls comes into play with all sorts of shenanigans and secret identities taking over politicians, and yeah, it’s nuts. Needless to say, Mar-Vell’s influence in the MCU doesn’t appear to be strong, other than the fact that, in the comics, Carol Danvers and Mar-Vell were tight, and due to an accident, she acquired powers similar to his when she received a dose of Kree DNA.
Interfacing with Avengers: Endgame … And Beyond?
Captain Marvel’s an immensely powerful superhero, so much so that that it worried the Russo Brothers. There’s reason to believe that she’ll be along for the ride in Avengers: Endgame, and from what we’ve seen in the film’s trailers, it seems probable that she (who possesses time traveling abilities) could team up with Ant-Man to explore the quantum realm in some way. Will this be the way that the Avengers take on Thanos and/or attempt to reverse his genocidal snap? Only Marvel Studios and Disney know for sure at this point.
Yet given that the MCU took so long to approach the Kree-Skrull War, also it seems unlikely that they’ll dispense of the issue within one standalone film. And the MCU might also take a different turn from comic book lore, rather than making either side the straight-up villainous one.
Now that Skrulls are being introduced, it’s possible that they’ll be a part of Phase 4 after the Thanos issue resolves itself (or not?), and whether or not any tangents from the comics are explored. Beyond the straightforwardness of the intergalactic war, it’s conceivable that the MCU will begin diving into established comic book arcs, possibly to continue what appears to be an exploration of the Secret Invasion storyline. This wouldn’t refer to the fact that the Captain Marvel trailers clearly show shapeshifting Skrulls assuming human appearances to go as undetected as possible while Danvers tries to root them out. Nope, such an invasion goes deeper in the comics — to the point where Skrulls have already been laying ground on Earth for years and replace some of Marvel’s known superheroes, possibly even including Avengers.
Could the Secret Invasion begin with Endgame? It seems unlikely that this would be a main focus, given that the Avengers are tasked with resurrecting the lost half of the universe that could be trapped in the Soul Stone or another dimension or elsewhere, and that’s already going to take up the bulk of the reported three-hour runtime. However, it’s very possible that Endgame could spare a few minutes to lay groundwork for future Skrull appearances. Will they start small or go big right away? We won’t know more clues until both Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame both drop in theaters.
Captain Marvel soars into a multiplex near you on March 8.