Okay, so, now that you’ve seen Captain Marvel (and, if you haven’t, you shouldn’t be reading this because there are spoilers ahead), you now know the movie’s Big Twist. Or, maybe, you’ve seen the movie and, right now, you’re thinking, “Wait, what twist?” I have met people who have expressed both sentiments. And your sense of what is a twist and what is not a twist really depends a lot on your familiarity with the comic book version of the Skrulls.
For a deeper dive into that, you can read all about it right here. But, for the sake of brevity, let’s just sum up decades of comic book narratives into a tidy bow and say that, historically, the Skrulls have been “bad guys.” Back when 2012’s The Avengers came out, the big rumor was that the invading fleet of aliens attacking New York City would indeed be the Skrulls. But, in the end, those wound up being the Chitari – a, let’s say, more cinematically disposable villain who served their purpose of being, basically, a faceless army of villains. Now, with Captain Marvel, we learn the Skrulls have been saved to play a much more important role in these movies.
So, yes, about halfway through Captain Marvel, every comic book geeks’ world got turned upside down when it’s revealed that the shapeshifting Skrulls were actually not the villains we had been led to believe and, instead, pretty much just want to be left alone – but the Kree keep chasing them across the galaxy, destroying homeworld after homeworld. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), who had been fighting alongside the Kree, learns that she’s been on the wrong side of history this whole time and, when we leave her, has vowed to help the Skrulls find a new home.
Again, your reaction to all this will vary. I’ve spoken to people who had no working knowledge of the Skrulls and Kree and didn’t even know this was “a thing.” Then there’s the owner of my local comic book shop who was like, “What?!?! The Skrulls can’t be … nice!”
And this is why Ben Mendelsohn’s performance as Talos has been so widely hailed. For the first half the movie we are convinced Talos is a villain – -and, partially, this is our own mind playing a trick on us because we are so used to Mendelsohn playing the villain role – but when we learn the truth, Mendelsohn’s nails that fine line where the whole thing doesn’t come off as “a cheat.”
Wherever the MCU is going after this next Avengers movie is a guessing game at this point, but there had been pretty safe speculation that the Skrulls would play a big part in the whole thing. And that still appears to be true, but just not how we thought they would. It certainly won’t be the Secret Invasion storyline a lot of people guessed. Or, at least, not how Secret Invasion all went down on the comics. But one thing is for (almost) sure, I have no doubt we’ll be seeing Mendelsohn’s Talos again – that character is just too good.
(One of the bummers about Rogue One is that we lost Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic to future movies. I understand, with the nature of that movie, that he couldn’t really be around anymore as it morphed into the original Star Wars. But I would love some more Krennic. I wish he could have lived. I mean, if we’re getting picky, it’s weird he’s never mentioned in one of those Death Star meetings anyway. “Hey, where’s Krennic?” … “Oh yeah, we shot him with a laser from the Death Star yesterday.” … “That guy, he’s always up to something.”)
But all this opens up a much wider world of possibilities. Let’s think about this for a second. After Thanos, how in the world could an evil Skrull invasion be that scary or threatening? But, now, as allies, they become much more interesting. Maybe they show up in Endgame? We know Carol Danvers plays a big role in this next film, why couldn’t she have brought Talos along for help? And, as shapeshifters, who knows what they’ve been up to this whole time? Anyway, I don’t want to sit here and predict a bunch of possible storylines because, as we just saw in Captain Marvel, the MCU isn’t playing by the rules set from the comic books. But, I do think this change gives the next phase of movies a lot more options.
(Though, as an aside, I didn’t love, or quite understand, the Mar-Vell storyline. In the comics, Mar-Vell was basically the first Captain Marvel. And he was, frankly, kind of boring. But it might have been better to just have Jude Law play Mar-Vell, then wind up being evil. I love that Annette Bening is in this movie, but her storyline felt a little … convoluted. And a “twist” just for the sake of having a twist. As opposed to the Skrulls twist, which makes it a better story.)
Look, if you grew up hating the Skrulls, I understand this will take some getting used to. It would kind of be like learning that the Romulans were the good guys all along and that the Vulcans were evil. But, personally, I welcome our new Skrull friends. Long live the Skrulls! Long live Talos!
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